Rethinking teaching: Charité relies on digital tools for students


Charite´-Studentin/Copyright :Charite´/Wiebke Peitz

Virtual scenarios, blended learning and augmented reality: this is how Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin wants to make its students fit for the medicine of the future. This project is now being funded by the „Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre“ (Foundation for Innovation in University Teaching) for three years with almost 2.9 million euros. It is part of the strategy „Charité 2030 – Rethinking Health“, according to which Berlin University Medicine is further developing research, teaching and healthcare for the healthcare system of the future.

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Medicine is facing a transformation: demographic change, the enormous pace of progress in biomedicine and digitalisation will permanently change the healthcare system and thus all healthcare professions. „In the future, we will not only need new job profiles, but also new skills, especially in digitalisation and cooperation between the medical professions,“ says Prof. Dr. Geraldine Rauch, Vice Dean for Studies and Teaching with a focus on life and health sciences at Charité.  The head of the now funded project „HEDS“ (Handlungs- und Entscheidungskompetenz Digital Stärken) emphasises: „HEDS is an important building block with which we want to prepare our students for this in the best possible way.“

The aim of the project is to support students in learning practical skills and developing clinical decision-making competence with the help of digital formats. The central element here: so-called blended learning, i.e. the combination of online and face-to-face teaching. „To this end, we will develop online scenarios that the students will use to go through clinical case studies from the recording of symptoms to the diagnosis to the decision on therapy. In the process, they have to indicate how they would act at each step and receive immediate individual feedback,“ explains Prof. Rauch. „These virtual practice cases are then followed, wherever possible and appropriate, by on-site teaching in the clinic on the subject. In this way, we will train the students‘ clinical decision-making skills much better than was previously possible.“

Blended learning will also serve to link four Charité degree programmes – human medicine, dentistry, midwifery and the Bachelor of Nursing – even better. To this end, it is planned to create virtual scenarios on the same topic from the perspective of the different professions – for example, on how to act in emergency situations from the point of view of a doctor, a midwife and a nurse. „We follow the same concept for all study programmes,“ says Prof. Dr. Harm Peters, head of the Dieter Scheffner Fachzentrum für medizinische Hochschullehre und evidenzbasierte Ausbildungsforschung (DSFZ) at Charité and deputy head of the HEDS project. „In this way, we enable a uniform understanding and approach to clinical decision-making to emerge in these treatment teams. And in terms of content, we will also focus particularly on interprofessional collaboration when developing the online scenarios.“ In addition, it is planned to explore the potential of augmented reality for teaching. For example, students in particularly sensitive areas, such as the intensive care unit or neonatal unit, will be taught at the patient’s bedside by a physically separate lecturer with the help of data glasses.

In addition, to make it easier for learners to identify their strengths and weaknesses at an early stage, so-called e-portfolios are introduced. In these digital portfolios, students will find an overview of their level of knowledge and performance in practical training. „So students don’t only find out where they stand in a subject at the end of a semester with the exam, but receive continuous detailed feedback on their level of performance,“ explains Prof. Peters. „This gives them the opportunity, for example, to make up for missing knowledge via online offers or to train individual skills in a targeted manner.“

The HEDS project is being funded as part of the funding announcement „Strengthening university teaching through digitalisation“, the first award of the Innovation in University Teaching Foundation. The aim is to provide public funding to address the particular challenges – caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – that teaching and learning face now and in the future.

Teaching at the Charité

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is the joint medical faculty of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The Charité is one of the largest medical faculties in Germany. More than 8,600 students are trained here in human medicine, dentistry, health sciences and nursing. From the winter semester 2021/2022, the degree course in midwifery will be established. In addition, there are 577 training places in 10 health professions. Charité has long played a pioneering role in the introduction of innovative study programmes, from the reform and model study programmes in medicine to the bachelor’s degree in nursing since 2020. Berlin University Medicine was awarded the ASPIRE Award for Excellence in Student Engagement by the Association for Medical Education in Europe in 2015 for the institutional integration of student engagement and the ASPIRE Award for Excellence in Curriculum Development in 2019 for the development of the model study programme in medicine.

Innovation in Higher Education Foundation

Established in 2020, the Innovation in Higher Education Teaching Foundation aims to enable innovation in higher education teaching and learning, and to strengthen the capacity for renewal in higher education teaching overall and on an ongoing basis. The Foundation’s programme and funding benefit the entire breadth of the German higher education landscape. The Innovation in Higher Education Foundation is a trust foundation under the auspices of the non-profit Toepfer Stiftung gGmbH. All funding for support, programme, organisation and administration is provided by the federal and state governments.


Förderentscheidung der Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre

Strategie Charité 2030

Prodekanat für Studium und Lehre

Dieter Scheffner Fachzentrum

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