Blended Teaching and Safety: The New Year Is Starting at BocconiEAGER, CONFIDENT AND HAPPY STUDENTS ARE RETURNING TO CAMPUS TO TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THIS ACADEMIC YEAR. BECAUSE, AS RECTOR GIANMARIO VERONA SAYS, ACADEMIC LIFE SHOULD BE EXPERIENCED ON CAMPUS, WHILE RELYING ON DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES TO IMPROVE THE TEACHING EXPERIENCE
The new academic year, the first in the Covid-19 era, began at Bocconi on 24 August, with the welcoming of first-year undergrads and students enrolled in the first year of a Masters of Science. On campus, careful to follow the directions and the new signs that are crucial for ensuring social distancing, the first students arriving are ready to fully experience life on campus: 90% have chosen to follow the blended teaching model guaranteeing that at least 50% of their classes will be held in person. "Living on campus is essential to fully get the university experience, but we must also make the most of digital technologies to improve and make learning more effective and thus design the new Bocconi teaching model of the future," explains Rector Gianmario Verona.
The blended model and a focus on safety are the two elements that students are appreciating the most on these first few days. "Before getting to campus, Bocconi had already done a good job of communicating the procedure to be followed in terms of safety. And now that I'm here it seems that everything is very well organized," says Umberto Duranti. He just arrived from Perugia to attend the MSc in Accounting, Financial Management and Control. This is echoed by Mads Skanvig, a Danish student in his first year of the MSc in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology: "We'll be taking things one day at a time this year, but it is clear that Bocconi is doing everything it can to keep students safe." With signs reminding everyone to socially distance by at least one meter, paths for entering and exiting classrooms and buildings, single and high-frequency thermo-scanners to measure body temperature, Emiliano Zaza, an 18-year-old student from Puglia in his first year of the Bachelor of Science in Economics and Finance, says: "I feel safe."
Natalia Szperna, an 18-year-old Polish student enrolled in the BSc in International Economics and Management, has chosen the blended teaching model. "I want to take advantage of this opportunity to meet new people, broaden my horizons and learn the Italian language and culture," she says. "I appreciate everything Bocconi is doing to allow us to experience campus life as much as possible," says Johanna Sommarlund, a Swedish first-year student in the MSc in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology. "This is very important especially for those of us coming here from abroad." Ziying Wang, from Portugal, is a student in the Master of Science in International Management who started by attending the prep courses online. "The hope," he says, "is to have as normal a year as possible and in these first few days I have already met other international students."
In order to guarantee all 14,700 students the best teaching experience and a safe campus environment, Bocconi has invested over €3 million to equip classrooms with the best technologies (so that online students can also experience lessons immersively), sanitize the campus, increase medical care and have the necessary safety and social distancing equipment. Classrooms will be used at 50% of their capacity and students can attend lessons (which will all be available on the digital platform) in three different ways: 50% of courses will be held in person and will be attended with weekly shifts; 30% will be online for theoretical topics and in person in small groups for applied topics to allow for greater interaction between students and faculty and among students; finally, 20% of courses, in particular subjects that lend themselves to digital full immersion such as some computer science courses, will be online only.
"I'm lucky to be here and that the university is open," says Vincent Giese, a student from the University of Mannheim who is at Bocconi for a Double Degree. "I have friends who have had to give up their planned experiences in the US and Canada." Henrietta Goebel, a 22-year-old German student enrolled in the Master of Science in Accounting, Financial Management and Control, adds, "Now we all need to be responsible to make sure the health emergency doesn’t blow up again."
by Tomaso Eridani and Barbara Orlando. Photo by Paolo Tonato
Translated by Jenna Walker