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Connecting communities of learners across continents: the ShanghAI lectures

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 09:55 authored by Bonsignorio, F, Labhart, N, Lueg, C, Pfeifer, R
It is widely recognized that knowledge sharing and learning are most effective when occurring in an appropriate and supportive context. As a consequence when designing an educational process the context has to be carefully considered. Implementing “situated learning” is straightforward in traditional apprenticeship models that inspired the communities of practice model, and the centuries old university model, but poses a formidable challenge when knowledge and associated practices are to be shared with large numbers of students as it is the case in most contemporary, demand-driven universities and even more in MOOCs. The traditional, and well tested, face-to-face teaching model that is in place does not scale even if videoconferencing is utilized to include students at remote locations. A few years ago, MOOCs were presented as a viable “solution”, but while participant numbers remain impressive, experiences also suggest that the learning experience does not scale as easily. In this paper we discuss an alternative knowledge sharing and learning model, the ShanghAI Lectures (SHAIL) developed at the University of Zurich, Switzerland in response to the need of making top quality higher education available to a worldwide audience. SHAIL combines some of the strongest aspects of traditional face-to-face teaching, but also allows lecturing from and to a community which is globally distributed. Findings from delivering the ShanghAI Lectures annually over five consecutive years to up to twenty universities from across the globe (North America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania) suggest that SHAIL is a promising way to address “global teaching”, but there are also challenges to be addressed such as: finding a common base with respect to university requirements, student goals and expectations, teaching styles, and of course the actual technologies used.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 2014 International Conference on Intelligent Environments


JE Guerrero






School of Information and Communication Technology


IEEE-Inst Electrical Electronics Engineers Inc

Place of publication

New Jersey, USA

Event title

2014 International Conference on Intelligent Environments

Event Venue

Shanghai, China

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


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