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?
KL: 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 dont 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
KL: I think its a completely new way of teaching, because
it needs much more on-site and teacher preparation. And of course,
its 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 dont 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.