Programme geared to sustainability of new learning technologies:
Building up the Swiss Centre for Innovations in Learning
since 2001, completion of outphasing end 2012

In the general wave of Internet euphoria witnessed in the late 1990s, new learning technologies attracted a veritable flood of hype in Switzerland too. The universities were quick to announce a didactic revolution, but the individual projects frequently proved barely effective. Against this backdrop, Gebert Rüf Stiftung founded the eTeach Competence Centre at the University of St. Gallen in 2001, having invited tenders for a suitable university location.

An effectiveness perspective for e-learning

Even education and science policy suffered in the fallout from the bursting of the IT bubble. At all levels and everywhere, glad tidings of a new age of learning were proclaimed. State support programmes such as Virtual Campus Switzerland sought to give the topic a broad platform. All too frequently, the self-professed eLearning revolution proved to be a patchwork with little lasting substance. Resources were available in abundance, and nobody was keen to miss the new age journey. Hardly any exchange took place, and the question of effectiveness was rarely raised. It was against this background that Gebert Rüf Stiftung launched the initiative of creating a university based centre of excellence for new learning in 2001. Other than this flagship engagement, no projects were subsequently financed in the e-learning area.

Bundling of founds

After consultation with an advisory committee, the Board of Trustees decided to issue a request for proposals for start-up funding of a university Centre of Excellence. The technical universities, universities and the two Federal Institutes of Technology were contacted and informed of the initiative. Out of nine project submissions, the University of St. Gallen was chosen in a two-stage selection process.

Swiss Centre for Innovations in Learning «scil»
at the University of St. Gallen

Development of the Swiss Centre for Innovations in Learning «scil» commenced in 2003. Structured in annual stages and by milestones, the start-up financing was set at CHF 6 million and originally planned to run for five years. However, since scil very soon began contributing its own resources in the form of services and research projects, Gebert Rüf Stiftung was able to extend its support over one whole decade.
The entire setup, development and consolidation process was overseen by a programme coach and an advisory board. The total funding provided by Gebert Rüf Stiftung came to almost CHF 7 million.
When the outphasing stage reached completion at the end of 2012, scil was on a solid footing from a scientific, organisational and financial perspective.