Practicalities for the USI community

Teaching and learning in the age of Coronavirus


On October 28, 2020, the Federal government announced that, starting Monday, November 2, all univerisities in Switzerland shall no longer be allowed to give lessons in attendance. Exceptions for certain specific training activities are foreseen.

Starting from Monday, November 2nd:

  • as a general rule, all classroom courses will be shifted entirely online
  • the time schedules for each course and all detailed information will be available on the iCorsi platform
  • a number of specific training activities in attendance will be permitted for certain learning situations with a limited number of students or of particular relevance within individual programmes. Those directly concerned will be contacted by the respective Faculty Deans.

The campuses, despite the current special arrangements, remain open: libraries, study rooms and open spaces for researchers will remain accessible.​



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  • Direction for online teaching

    As a result of the measures decided by the Federal Council on 28 October 2020, the training activities for the semester will continue online from 2 November 2020.

    In particular:

    • The activities already planned as online activities remain unchanged
    • As a rule
      - from Monday 2 November all face-to-face courses will go completely online
      - the classes schedule will be followed
      - all detailed information will be available on the iCorsi platform

    Below, as an example, some possible scenarios, not mutually exclusive:

    • synchronous video lectures on MsTeams (recorded for those who cannot participate)
    • recorded video lessons, for asynchronous use
    • other activities, both synchronous and asynchronous

    Exceptions and special cases, according to the exceptions provided for by the Federal Council, are defined by the Faculties.



    1. Information and communication with students is fundamental

    • It is important to limit as much as possible the feeling of isolation that students may feel. Please, note: campuses will not be closed, and study areas will remain accessible to students (please see Protection Provisions)
    • It is important to inform students very clearly about new ways of delivering the course and any changes in the programme.

    2. Consider carefully the workload required of students 

    When redesigning your next classes, make a realistic estimate of the time required for students to carry out each proposed activity, ensuring that it is adequate to the course ECTS.

    3. Respect the class schedule 

    If you want to give a live video lecture, schedule it according to the schedule published at the beginning of the semester.

    4. Differentiate as much as possible the online activities you propose 

    It is recommended not to propose only streaming/videoconferencing lessons. We suggest diversifying the teaching methods and activities, also carrying out activities that encourage the active participation of the students.



    The iCorsi platform is the reference point for everyone, where sharing and keeping up to date is safe and acknowledged, allowing thus to always keep the whole class together.

    In particular, during the period of distance learning, it is recommended to:

    • Always use the Announcements forum of iCorsi to give information to students, so that everyone is always up to date and on track.
      It is advisable to avoid answering individual e-mails to questions concerning the course (and therefore of interest to everyone) – which is not the case for requests concerning a single student.
    • Check that all materials are properly published on the platform.



    1. Broadcast the lesson live via MsTeams:

    • It can only be done at the times indicated in the course schedule.
      It is possible to use the "Together mode" view, which makes the students visible as if they were sitting in an auditorium.
    • In the case of 4 consecutive hours of lessons, it is recommended to alternate live lessons with other activities (for example, an individual exercise to be assigned via iCorsi; a paper to be read and commented or analysed on the iCorsi forum; see also point 3). Attending 4 hours of lessons in front of a screen is not the same as attending 4 hours in presence!

    2. Record the audio and/or video of the lecture:

    • Record the audio and/or video of the lecture with Panopto. Note: a 45' lecture in the classroom corresponds to a shorter videotaped lecture. It is therefore suggested, to record an equivalent lecture lasting about 20'.
    • Create slides with comments using PowerPoint, Panopto or Screencast-o-matic, to be shared on iCorsi.

    3. Assign activities to be carried out remotely:

    • Assign students additional bibliographic materials (books, book chapters, papers).
    • Assign students additional digital learning materials: online articles, videos (e.g. TED Talks, etc.), online courses or parts of courses (MOOCs), etc.
    • Create discussions or Q&A sessions via MS Teams (synchronously) or via the iCorsi forums (asynchronously).
    • Have students work together to create online conceptual maps of the course content (remote group work) using Mindmeister.
    • Propose students individual activities or in discussion/practice groups (e.g., logbook), to be published and shared on the ePortfolio platform.
    • Create self-assessment exercises for students through quizzes on iCorsi.
    • Assign students tasks or exercises to be submitted through iCorsi.
    • Others… be creative!





    On iCorsi, in the "#USIeLearning" section, which is always updated, you can find more information and some examples on the application of these strategies and the use of the tools proposed in these pages:



    eLab staff members can be contacted for personalised assistance, either for training or for the use of the technologies:


  • For an effective distance learning

    Some useful suggestions from the Pro-Rector for Education and Students' Experience Lorenzo Cantoni for effective distance learning.

    Distance learning is a fascinating and exicting challenge, which can require specific skills and talent.

    Distance learning means:


    1. Responsibility

    • Organize your work in a systematic way: schedule your day as if you were on campus, keeping up with the different activities that are proposed to you
    • Check regularly the iCorsi platform, where your lecturers will regularly publish teaching materials and updates
    • Manage your study time carefully: don't let the flexibility of distance learning become an alibi for putting off individual study time
    • Stay focused on studying: multitasking is not always a positive thing. When you study or follow remotely a lesson don't get distracted by other online activities: in other words, don't let iCorsi compete with Netflix...


    2. Solidarity

    • Stay in touch with your classmates through forums, online chat or messaging systems, on iCorsi, or other online services
    • Share the experiences and strategies that have proved to be useful
    • Help those who cannot follow any distance learning activities


    3. Studying

    • Make sure you make enough time to study: distance learning requires just as much time as studying on campus!
    • Find a quiet place to study, enabling you to carry out the required activities with due tranquility
    • Explain to your family members that you are not playing Fortnite but that you're studying, so you shouldn't be disturbed
    • Plan for recess time and do some physical exercise between study sessions (such as those suggested by the USI Sport Service: you can follow their suggestions from the YouTube channel of USI in the playlist Pillole di sport). 





Updated on: 29/10/2020