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Interview with Dr. Klaus Landfried,
President of the German Association of Universities

(the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz), an umbrella organization covering all German higher education institutions, currently with 258 members, including universities and non-doctorate awarding universities of applied sciences (the Fachochschulen), art and biology colleges.

WS: Could you please describe the influence of E-Learning on German and international universities?
For Germany the E-Learning process has increased dramatically during the last years. E-Learning, however, is only one module in the effective learning process of students in their programs. I don’t think we will see efficient and quality balanced programs that are completely E-Learning based. However advanced E-Learning programs become, examinations will still have to be taken at real institutions, not virtual.
The International Global University, an association and network of institutions, is a virtual university in Germany that offers a certain module of E-Learning, but they advise students to do their final work and examinations at one of the member institutions, where the quality of a student can really be tested. I think that E-Learning programs will improve the learning of the basics in a discipline and perhaps make the process more efficient through a dialogue-based learning outlet on the Internet.

WS: Do you think that E-Learning is a more efficient tool to support existing teaching methods, or is it a completely new teaching method?
I think it’s a completely new way of teaching, because it needs much more on-site and teacher preparation. And of course, it’s a revolution of the learning process because the monopoly of the professor in the lecture hall is penetrated by knowledge from the outside. So that is a real revolution. On the other hand, I don’t think it will ever be able to replace the professor or the lecturer in the lecture hall and in the laboratory for instance; many different disciplines demand real lab work, and E-Learning cannot compensate this.

WS: Do German universities intensify the use of E-Learning? Do they try to strengthen the implementation of E-Learning?
KL: The increase in E-Learning programs or modules is dramatic, especially at the FernUniversität Hagen and some other universities. For example, my old university, the University of Kaiserslautern, has something like 25% of the student population enrolled in distance learning programs, which is rather high. They are starting to rely increasingly on the Internet.

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