Practicalities for the USI community

Teaching and learning in the age of Coronavirus


The spring semester 2021 will also be a little out of the ordinary. 

USI on the one hand, values in presence learning and university life, on the other hand, it has indeed been successful at organising online courses, taking advantage of opportunities and ensuring a flexible and continuous learning experience.

In defining modalities, USI has been inspired and will continue to be inspired by the four principles that have guided the University in recent months: protecting the academic community; seeking solutions that give continuity to the institution, contributing to the stability of the social fabric; ensuring the educational offer even in such difficult and volatile times; complying with the decisions of the competent public authorities.

USI has therefore decided that:

  1. The spring semester will take place on-campus if and as much as possible, online when necessary.
  2. Mixed (blended) modalities will be adopted, similar to those of the current semester, which will allow switching without interruption from fully online to a partial presence, if allowed, and vice versa from a partial presence to fully online, if necessary.
  3. The Faculties will define the specific modalities, taking into account the experience of the current semester. Schedules and more details will be made available by mid-January 2021.
  4. Those who, for legitimate reasons, will not be able to participate in campus lectures or synchronous online activities, will still be able to complete the semester.

As a result of the measures decided by the Federal Council on 13 January 2021, the training activities for the spring semester will start online, in accordance with these principles:

  • No more than 50% of the hours may be delivered synchronously.
  • Each lecturer will define in detail the activities to be carried out and will communicate them via iCorsi.


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  • Direction for online teaching


    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 when studying / working at distance.
    • 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 for online activities: make a realistic estimate of the time required for students to carry out the online activities you propose, ensuring that it is adequate to the course ECTS.

    3. Respect the class schedule: if you 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: for online weeks, 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, it is recommended to:

    • Prepare a detailed Syllabus of the course, with a clear indication of what goes on during each week (on campus and online).
    • Post materials of what has been done on campus by the end of the week.
    • 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.

    To start the new semester…

    • All the courses for the semester have been created on iCorsi3, and administration rights have been granted to the corresponding teachers and TAs.
    • If you want to add a new assistant to the course, you can follow this procedure:
    • If you want to import content from the last year’s course, you can follow this procedure:
    • If you have not yet done so, remember to make the course visible to students before the beginning of the semester (see



    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.
    • ATTENTION: recordings made with Ms Teams remain available for 20 days in the Ms Teams chat. Within 20 days, each teacher must download the video of their recording directly from the Ms Teams chat and make it available to students via Panopto.
    • 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: 19/02/2021