Selected projects currently underway in the ERI sector
Educa is the specialist agency for digitalisation of the Swiss education system. Working in service of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) and SERI, Educa explores technological developments and how they can drive progress in compulsory education, vocational education and training, baccalaureate schools and specialised schools.
A data use policy office for the Swiss education system
The Swiss Confederation and the cantons have tasked the Educa specialist agency with creating an office to develop data use policy for the Swiss education system. The aim is to ensure that data is handled securely and responsibly in line with existing data protection practices, while enabling the targeted use of this data. Around ten projects will shed light on key aspects of data use, including legal, ethical, security-related and technical perspectives. Based on this work, the office will draw up a data use policy for the Swiss education system by June 2025, which will be used across the country for compulsory and upper-secondary education.
National data federation for vocational education and training
Data access and exchange in the vocational education and training sector is to be streamlined at national level, with a data federation at the heart of the project. The aim is to build a technical infrastructure allowing VET data to be shared, queried and analysed. Addresses, teaching responsibilities and course enrolment and results, for example, could be queried and shared among various institutions and cantons. In an initial phase running to October 2022, the legal basis for establishing such a federation will be clarified together with technical infrastructure requirements.
Higher Education Act
The Confederation provides federal project contributions defined in the Higher Education Act (HEdA) to support national cooperation initiatives between higher education institutions. These contributions are available to cantonal universities and universities of applied sciences, Switzerland's two federal institutes of technology, and selected other institutions within the higher education sector. Under certain conditions, universities of teacher education are also eligible for project contributions.
Fostering digital skills in higher education
The Swiss Conference of Rectors of Higher Education (swissuniversities) uses certain federal project contributions to coordinate a digital skills programme, with the aim of improving the digital competence of lecturers and students at higher education institutions. The Covid-19 crisis brought home just how important these skills are, while also showing what a huge opportunity online teaching presents for higher education. The pandemic accelerated development in certain areas, while also revealing some gaps in the current system that must be closed if students and lecturers are to take full advantage of the new possibilities of digitalisation.
The recently completed initial phase of the digital skills programme (2019–2020) included over 100 projects from every type of higher education institution. Despite the difficulties caused by the Covid pandemic, almost two thirds of the projects achieved or even exceeded their stated objectives. These targets included reinforcing data use and interpretation skills, raising awareness of the potential risks associated with the use of technological media as well as developing online learning platforms and content and providing the necessary training to lecturers. The current 2021–2024 programme phase will consolidate the tools already developed and involve 16 larger-scale projects where higher education institutions will work together in clusters. Topics include digital examinations and e-assessments, computational thinking, and the university of the future.
Academies of Arts and Sciences
The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (a+) serves as a bridge between science and society. SwissCollNet is an initiative sponsored by a member of a+, the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SNCAT), and receives funding from SERI under the terms of an additional protocol to the service level agreement established by SERI and a+. For its part, the Data and Service Centre for the Humanities (DaSCH) was initiated by a fellow a+ member, the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAHS), which also co-funded development from 2017 to 2020.
www.scnat.ch / www.sagw.ch / www.dasch.swiss
Digitalisation of collections in the natural sciences
Museums, universities and botanical gardens in Switzerland store in excess of 60 million specimens including animals, plants, fungi, rock, soil samples and fossils: an amazing treasure trove of knowledge. Fewer than one in five of these are currently digitalised, which means that a large percentage of these data sources are not easily accessible for research, education and society. Sponsored by the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SNCAT), the SwissCollNet initiative aims to develop these scientific collections digitally and make them available on a common platform, in order to make better use of their scientific and educational potential. The initiative also includes the provision of training to scientific and technical staff on how to classify, prepare and maintain collections.
Accessible research data for the humanities
The Data and Service Centre for the Humanities (DaSCH) pools expertise on digital methodologies and the long-term use of digital data to assist humanities scholars in applying modern digital research methods. The Centre focuses on text data and related digital objects (images, sound, video) from all areas of the humanities. DaSCH promotes standards and best practices that allow researchers to implement open data and open science policies in their field.