Program Geared to Sustainability of New Learning Technologies: Building up the Swiss Centre for Innovations in Learning, from 2001–2012

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.

Objective: 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 programs 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 centre of excellence for new learning in 2001. Other than this flagship engagement, no projects were subsequently financed in the e-learning area.

Selection: Bundling of Funds

After consultation with an advisory committee, the board of trustees decided to issue a request for proposals for startup funding for 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.

Result: 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 startup 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 an entire decade.
The whole setup, development and consolidation process was overseen by a program 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, organizational and financial perspective.

Approved projects eTeach