Author: Melanie Walter

Focus on Exploring AI in Academic Writing: Two innovative Innovedum projects

//Important note: This blog post was created with the help of Open AI’s Chat GPT and the project descriptions published on It is also an attempt to find out to what extent this tool adds value when composing blog posts.// 

In the realm of academia, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) has opened up new avenues for enhancing the process of scholarly writing. Two recently accepted, pioneering Innovedum projects at ETH Zurich, led by Prof. Dr. Lucio Isa and Dr. Melanie Paschke, delve into the integration of AI in the world of academic writing. Despite differing focuses, these projects share a common drive to elevate the quality and effectiveness of scholarly communication through innovative approaches. 

Project 1: Experiential learning: The publication process 

Led by Prof. Dr. Lucio Isa, this project aims to provide doctoral candidates with a firsthand experience of the publication process. Through an experiential learning approach, participants embark on a journey from idea conception to submission, honing not only their writing skills but also key competencies like teamwork, critical thinking, and self-reflection. By simulating the entire publication process with the inclusion of Chat GPT, this project offers a holistic understanding of academic writing. 

Project 2: Assessing the Potential of AI for Scientific Writing Techniques  

Under the guidance of Dr. Melanie Paschke, this initiative focuses on the integration of AI tools, particularly GPT-Bots and Large Language Models, into the realm of academic writing. The project’s core goal is to explore the potential of AI in assisting various facets of scholarly writing, ranging from supporting the writing process to addressing concerns like plagiarism and research integrity. A focus is on integrating ChatGPT into existing courses mainly at DUSYS where scientific writing is part of the course learning path and to co-develop with lecturers meaningful exercises and guidance to teach participants the use of generative AI and also the critical assessment of the outputs. Through collaborative development with educators, the project aims to define best practices for using AI responsibly in academia. 

In a changing educational landscape, projects like these are helping to improve learning and teaching experiences. By using AI as a tool to promote academic writing, they rely on innovative approaches to foster transferable skills and create best practices. Ultimately, they prepare students to succeed in an increasingly technological world. 

You can find more information on both projects at:

If you are interested in starting your own project feel free to contact Innovedum.

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New Innovedum Focal Point Theme: “AI in Teaching and Learning”  

As technology and education intersect more than ever, the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly apparent. Just as earlier pioneers revolutionized classrooms through the advent of the internet, we now find ourselves on the cusp of another educational evolution, this time driven by AI. The latest focal point theme for the Innovedum project, “AI in Teaching and Learning,” paves the way for a pathbreaking new era of education by offering a unique opportunity to integrate AI into teaching methods.  

A Glimpse into the Future: “AI in Teaching and Learning”  

Commencing on October 1, 2023, the focal point theme “AI in Teaching and Learning” sets the stage for innovative changes in education. With AI-driven tools and technologies becoming an integral part of our daily lives, lecturers face the task of effectively embracing these resources to enhance the learning experience. Simultaneously, they must ensure students acquire the crucial skills of critical thinking and problem-solving, enabling them to excel in a world powered by AI. The focal point theme “AI in Teaching and Learning” delves into the challenges and possibilities that arise from integrating AI into higher education, revealing how lecturers and students can harness the potential of this technology. 

Several intriguing aspects stem from this focal point theme, including:  

  1.  Personalized Learning Experiences: Lecturers can harness AI-powered tools to tailor learning experiences for students. By accommodating individual learning styles and preferences, engagement can be boosted, leading to improved academic performance.  
  1. Optimizing Course Design and Content: AI empowers lecturers to fine-tune course design and instructional materials, allowing them to dedicate more time to intricate tasks such as critical thinking and problem-solving. This, in turn, can lead to more effective teaching and improved learning outcomes.  
  1. Personalized Feedback and Support: AI-based tools offer students personalized feedback and support. This assists them in identifying strengths and areas for improvement, ultimately enhancing academic achievements and optimizing study time.  
  1. Fostering Transferable Skills: The integration of AI into education provides students with an opportunity not only to acquire AI-specific skills but also to cultivate transferable skills encompassing ethics, data privacy, and social impact. Such skills are pivotal in an AI-driven landscape.  

Your Invitation to Shape the Future: Join the Movement  

For lecturers at ETH, the Innovedum focal point theme “AI in Teaching and Learning” extends an unprecedented opportunity to play a pioneering role in the future of education. Starting on October 1, 2023, the project welcomes imaginative minds to conceptualize and present projects exploring the incorporation of AI into teaching and learning. Your project could be the catalyst for ushering in a new educational epoch—one that empowers students and lecturers alike to flourish in an AI-driven world.  

Innovedum remains committed to fostering innovative teaching practices. Whether you’re contemplating fresh approaches to course design, capitalizing on AI for personalized learning, or delving into the ethical dimensions of AI integration, Innovedum supports the actualization of your vision with practical consulting and valuable resources.  

As you embark on this transformative journey, remember that the future is being shaped by the capabilities of AI. It’s noteworthy that this very blog post was crafted with the assistance of AI—an illustration of the innovation we invite you to explore. Together, let’s forge a new educational era that fully embraces AI’s potential, paving the way for boundless opportunities in learning and teaching. 

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Behind the scenes: The making of a new blended learning course 

When designing a blended learning course, it is crucial to take multiple factors into account, especially for the online modules. These factors include selecting appropriate course materials, planning engaging activities, finding ways to keep students interested, and creating effective assessments. A good teacher-student relationship is also essential for online learning and requires special attention.

For our recently developed blended learning course on Radionuclides as Environmental Tracers, we showcased the versatility of natural and artificial radionuclides as tracers for environmental processes. By blending in-person and online modules, students explore the fundamentals of radionuclides and their potential for investigating various environmental processes through case studies. For the production of the “Meet Your Instructor” videos for each case study,  we collaborated with the Educational Media Team. This was funded by an Innovedum Grant. These videos serve various didactic and educational purposes. Firstly, they act as introductions to each section, establishing a connection between participants and the lecturers. Secondly, the camera team joined our lecturers on field trips, enhancing students’ learning experience by capturing authentic research activities in locations that may be inaccessible to them, such as the stalagmites cave of Milandre (see featured video). Additionally, we co-designed animations to illustrate complex concepts and emphasize aspects that cannot be effectively captured on camera.

Collaborating with the EMT has been a fantastic experience. They provided a wealth of knowledge and expertise in creating high-quality audiovisual content for teaching. Together, we gathered the expertise of different stakeholders to develop a series of dynamic and visually engaging introduction videos with our case study experts. We began the process by establishing the key concepts and ideas for each case study in co-design with the EMT. Based on these concepts, we formulated a set of interview questions for the experts. Filming took place at locations that were relevant to each case study, such as labs, mountains, and even caves. Working with a Spanish film team via Zoom also went smoothly. The interview video clips served as the basis for co-developing the script with the project leaders and the case study experts. We then identified sequences that would be suitable for animation, and the EMT designed – always in close collaborations with the case study experts, to guarantee scientific accuracy – beautifully crafted animations to illustrate the core concepts of the case studies. Throughout the process, we provided feedback and input to ensure that the videos aligned with our goals and expectations for the course.

The final product, a series of “meet your instructor” videos, will be available soon. We believe that these videos will help establish a connection with our students and generate excitement about the course material. The process of creating these videos was a collaborative and rewarding experience that allowed us to produce a high-quality, user-centered product that we are confident will improve the learning process for our students. As scientists who are not used to being in front of a camera, it was great to experience the empathy and practical advice that the EMT provided. We even enjoyed it, despite our initial apprehension.

In summary, our collaboration with the Educational Media Team was a valuable and enjoyable experience. We are eager to see the impact these videos will have on our students’ engagement and learning in the course.

Author: Caroline Welte (

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New Innovedum Focal Point Project Topic: Transferable Competencies

For the next round of submissions on 1 March 2023, the new topic transferable competencies” will be launched within the category of focal point projects. This supports innovative methods and technologies to build up method-specific, social or personal competences in the classroom and to test these in corresponding performance assessments. The aim is for students to acquire competences in the concrete context of subject-specific expertise and to be able to transfer and apply these to other subjects. Students are thus enabled to continuously develop and apply their knowledge in the further course or after completion of their studies.

Examples of projects:

  • Implementation of programming projects in student groups and a performance assessment that includes a group performance.
  • Development of peer feedback learning opportunities for students and associated peer grading.
  • Use of performance assessments that assess whether an individual has engaged critically and creatively with a problem.
  • Collaboration of students with external students or stakeholders. Inclusion of the external perspective in performance assessment

ETH Talent also focuses on the holistic teaching of competencies. The ETH Competence Framework provides a good overview of which interdisciplinary competences (i.e. method-specific, social and personal competences) are developed at ETH. Depending on the subject area and didactic design, a course typically focuses on a selection of these.

Innovedum not only promotes interdisciplinary competences within the framework of the focal point projects. There are other project topics and types to choose from – click here for an overview.

Are you a lecturer at ETH? ETH members who have at least a 50% post and a teaching assignment are entitled to submit an application to Innovedum. Innovative ideas for the fostering of teaching at ETH are supported by Innovedum from the first step onwards. You and your project team will receive support when it comes to fleshing out ideas in the project proposal or to initiate cooperation with the Emerging Educational Media Hub (E2MH).
This was also the case in 2022 – a total of 35 project applications were submitted, which has only been

achieved once since the Innovedum Fund was established. A record number of 24 focal point projects were submitted and a total of 20 projects worth around CHF 1.5 million were approved, including the D-ARCH study programme initiative.

Design your teaching with Innovedum’s support! 
Contact us and submit your project by 1.3.23

We look forward to many exciting project proposals!

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Neues Innovedum Fokusthema: Überfachliche Kompetenzen

Ab dem ersten Schritt durch Innovedum begleitet, auch zum neuen Fokusthema: Überfachliche Kompetenzen

Zur nächsten Eingaberunde vom 1. März 2023 wird innerhalb der Kategorie Fokusprojektedas neue Thema: «Überfachliche Kompetenzen» lanciert. Damit werden innovative Methoden und Technologien unterstützt, um methodenspezifische, soziale oder persönliche Kompetenzen im Unterricht aufzubauen und diese in entsprechenden Leistungskontrollen zu überprüfen. Ziel ist es, dass Studierende Kompetenzen im konkreten Kontext der fachspezifischen Expertise erwerben und diese auf andere Fächer übertragen und anwenden können. Die Studierenden werden dadurch befähigt, ihr Wissen im weiteren Verlauf oder nach Abschluss des Studiums kontinuierlich weiterzuentwickeln und anzuwenden. 

Hier einige Beispiele für mögliche Projekte:

  • Durchführung von Programmierprojekten in Studierendengruppen und einer Leistungskontrolle, die eine Gruppenleistung beinhaltet.
  • Entwicklung von Peer Feedback Lerngelegenheiten für Studierende und dazugehörigem Peer Grading.
  • Einsatz von Leistungskontrollen, die erheben, ob eine Person sich kritisch und kreativ mit einer Problemstellung beschäftigt hat.
  • Zusammenarbeit von Studierenden mit externen Studierenden oder Anspruchsgruppen. Einbezug der externen Perspektive in die Leistungskontrolle.

    Auch bei ETH Talent steht die ganzheitlich ausgerichtete Kompetenzvermittlung im Mittelpunkt.
    Der ETH Kompetenzraster bietet eine gute Übersicht, welche überfachlichen Kompetenzen (also methodenspezifische, soziale und persönliche Kompetenzen) an der ETH entwickelt werden. Je nach Fachgebiet und didaktischer Gestaltung steht in einer Lehrveranstaltung typischerweise eine Auswahl davon im Mittelpunkt.

    Innovedum fördert aber nicht nur überfachliche Kompetenzen im Rahmen der Fokusprojekte. Es stehen weitere Projektthemen und –typen zur Auswahl – hier geht’s zur Übersicht.

    Sind Sie Dozent oder Dozentin an der ETH? Mit einer Anstellung von mindestens 50 Stellenprozenten und einem Lehrauftrag sind Sie berechtigt bei Innovedum einen Antrag zu stellen. Innovative Ideen zur Förderung der Lehre an der ETH werden seitens Innovedum ab dem ersten Schritt begleitet. Sie und Ihr Projektteam erhalten Unterstützung, wenn es darum geht, Ideen im Projektantrag zu konkretisieren oder um eine Zusammenarbeit mit dem Emerging Educational Media Hub (E2MH) aufzugleisen. So auch im 2022 – insgesamt wurden 35 Projektanträge eingereicht, das wurde seit Bestehen des Innovedum Fonds nur einmal zuvor erreicht. Dabei konnte ein Rekord von 24 eingereichten Fokusprojekten verzeichnet werden. Insgesamt wurden 20 Projekte im Umfang von rund 1.5 Millionen CHF bewilligt, darunter auch eine Studiengangsinitiative des D-ARCH.  

    Innovedum fördert aber nicht nur überfachliche Kompetenzen im Rahmen der Fokusprojekte. Es stehen weitere Projektthemen und –typen zur Auswahl – hier geht’s zur Übersicht.

    Gestalten Sie die Lehre an der ETH mit Unterstützung von Innovedum!
    Nehmen Sie mit uns Kontakt auf und reichen Sie Ihr Projekt bis zum 1.3.23 ein.

    Wir freuen uns auf viele spannende Projektanträge!

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    A look back on the first Innovation in Learning & Teaching Fair

    The Innovation in Learning & Teaching Fair with the KITE Award Ceremony took place on May 4th, 2022.  By building on the previous successes of the Innovedum and KITE events, a wide community of around 200 engaged individuals were able to come together for discussion, feedback and inspiration on the topic of student learning. The focus for this year’s event was on online teaching and learning during the Covid pandemic.

    There were 44 innovative teaching projects showcased in the main hall of the ETH Main Building. The exhibition opened at 3.00 p.m. and was very well attended. As you can see in the pictures, lively discussions took place during the exhibition. You could see and feel that the teaching community at ETH was excited to come together again in person, to discuss their projects, exchange ideas and maybe just chat a bit with each other.

    The participants were so engaged in their exchanges, that they had to be reminded of the start of the KITE Award ceremony, at 5.00 p.m. in AudiMax. The event ceremony with speeches by Rector Günter Dissertori, KdL President Ulrike Lohmann and introductions of the finalists by Manu Kapur was very festive. While all three finalist were supreme projects, the worthy winner was Physics Lab Courses in Corona times project which enables students to conduct experimental physics at home.

    The KITE Award ceremony was followed by an aperitif which gave participants, jury and winners another opportunity to connect and discuss their experiences.

    Feel free to browse through the projects at the  virtual exhibition of the Innovation in Learning & Teaching Fair and maybe you can find some inspiration for your own teaching.

    We would be happy to welcome you to the next Innovation in Learning & Teaching Fair, maybe you could showcase your teaching there.

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    Showcase MOOC: Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems

    Supported by Innovedum, a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is happy to introduce itself: The new ETHZ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) series entitled “Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems” (DRRS) directly addresses sustainability transitions in complex systems as for dealing with nested crises. Professor Tobias Luthe tells us about his new MOOC and why it’s so exciting.

    The DRRS MOOC series hybridizes sustainability science, systemic design and transformative action. It provides worldviews, tools, illustrations and transformative networks to build capacities and engage in systemic innovation of complex systems. The MOOC series is featuring a virtual-real didactic concept, where local physical social outdoor action in the region the participant lives, is stimulated and incubated by virtual means. 

    The learning content is focused on stimulating new cultures beyond the current often disciplinary and compartmentalized approach to science: for hybridizing the analytical tools of science with the iterative doing of design, and the urge for transformative action. And this across spatial and governance scales, from green chemistry, materials, products, buildings, cities, landscapes, regions and transnational cooperation.

    The MOOCs’ didactics are designed to combine time and place independent virtual learning through pre-recorded conversations and presentations, both accessible as movies and audio files, readings, and practical engagement outside in nature. Virtual content is meant to stimulate physical and social interaction in the bio-region where the participant lives. Systemic Cycles takes the participants on a conscious exploration of place and regional supply chain actors on their bicycle, to playfully learn systemic design methods, to weave together local and regional networks and to explore the inner self through physical activity. An accompanying visual mapping process called Gigamapping acts as a designerly way to co-create your own learning journey and connect across the MOOC series to your final transformative design project. Your personal QUEST guides you through your learning journey. Weekly live tutorials in an online forum offer opportunities to discuss and brainstorm with teachers. Participants learn together with diverse experts in their field – sustainability scientists, systemic designers, consultants, local and European politicians, book authors, builders, mountain guides, self-compassion trainers, and together co-create and connect communities of practice for learning and engagement opportunities Starting May 9th 2022 on EdX – free participation w/o costs possible.

    Exciting real-world illustrations will take participants to Hemsedal Norway, Annecy France, Ostana Italy, and Mallorca Spain – from material supply chains, to products, buildings, communities and their services, to landscapes, bio-regions, and transnational cooperation. This offers a comparative understanding of communities and regions undergoing sustainability transitions across different contexts, cultures, climates and geographies.  

    The prominent methods participants will learn are systemic design and systems-oriented design, social network analysis, resilience assessment, life cycle and footprint analysis, circularity mapping, visual dialogue, cross-scale design, “view from above” perspectives, biomimicry, transdisciplinary research, real-world elaboration – and how this “cocktail” of methods becomes part of new cultures to deal with complexity and uncertainty. 

    For more information on this MOOC visit:

    We would be happy to talk with you about our experiences in making this MOOC!

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    Neues Fokusthema Innovedum Fonds

    Zum 1. März 2022 gibt es ein neues Fokusthema «Bildungsmedien für Visualisierung und Simulation» für Projektförderung im Innovedum Fonds. Zusammen mit diesem Fokusthema und den drei bestehenden setzt der Rektor und die Lehrkommission der ETH neue Schwerpunkte im Fonds Innovedum.

    Mit dem neuen Fokusthema sollen interaktive Visualisierungen und Simulationen für den Unterricht entwickelt und erprobt werden. Diese Medien sollen praktische oder persönliche Unterrichtsszenarien nicht ersetzen, sondern ergänzen. Es wird erwartet, dass die Projekte in Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Lehrkräften, dem Emerging Educational Media Hub am LET und den Studierenden entwickelt werden. Ein wichtiges Ziel solcher Projekte ist es, nachhaltige Bedingungen für die Projektleitenden zu schaffen, so dass sie die Medien in Zukunft unabhängig entwickeln und weiterentwickeln können.

    Bevorzugte Entwicklungsplattformen sind Unity ( oder Jupyter ( in Verbindung mit IPython ( 

    Beispiel einer Simulation mit Python. Hier die Lorenzkraft. Links eine Visualisierung. Rechts der Python Code.
    Visualisierung der Lorenzkraft mit einer Simulation in Python.

    Das Thema «Hindernisfreie Lehre» fokussiert auf die Zugänglichkeit der Lehre (Materialien, Online/blended/flipped Kurse, Methoden und Technologien) für alle Lernenden.  (à Anton als Ansprechpartner verlinken).

    Das dritte Fokusthema «Online-Lernmodule ausserhalb der Präsenzzeit» werden gezielt Projekte gesucht, welche die Studierenden durch den gezielten Einsatz von Methoden und Technologien (Online-Module) auf die Präsenzzeit vor- oder nachbereiten.

    Zu guter Letzt werden mit «Lernen und Prüfen in Gruppen» Fokusprojekte gefördert, die kollaborative Aktivitäten für Studierende in der Lehre (physisch und online) integrieren, insbesondere auch solche, die diese Aktivitäten prüfungsrelevant machen.

    Ein Fokusprojekt bei Innovedum hat eine Obergrenze von 60 kFr und die Begutachtung dauert rund 4 Wochen.

    Um die ganze Breite an innovativen Lehrideen an der ETH abdecken zu können, fördert der Innovedum Fonds auch Blended Learning und MOOC Projekte, ebenso wie themenunabhängige umfangreichere Lehrprojekte.

    Der nächste Eingabetermin ist der 1. März 2022. Antragsberechtigt sind ETH-​Angehörige mit einer Anstellung von mindestens 50 Stellenprozenten und einem Lehrauftrag. Mehr Informationen finden Sie unter:

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    New ideas for Innovedum, the ETH innovative teaching fund

    With the Innovedum Fund, ETH has an extremely successful instrument for promoting innovative teaching, especially with regard to community building (cf. Reinhardt, Korner, Walter, 2019). Topics such as student engagement (Healey, Flint & Harrington, 2014) and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Martensson & Roxa, 2015) are increasingly being considered globally as an important part of educational development activities. With this in mind, the Innovedum application process became the focus of a rethink and revision in 2020. The application process was updated to a webform and new criteria were included in the application process. These were; inclusion of the student perspective, dissemination of Innovedum projects results and communication. 

    Inclusion of the student perspective in the project design and the planned project implementation

    To encourage future applicants to take the student perspective into account, a new question was added to the application form. This is to meet the express wish of the Rector to further student perspectives and involvement when developing projects that innovate teaching and learning at ETH. Since the purpose of Innovedum is to have a positive effect on teaching and learning, it is important that the opportunity to include students in the application process is available:

    Student Involvement: Describe whether and how students were involved in the preparation and review of this project application. How will students be involved in project implementation?

    This question provides the project applicant with the freedom to decide if and how students can be involved in a possible project, while also pointing out easy steps how this could be done. 

    Dissemination of Innovedum Projects: Spreading good Teaching and Learning at ETH

    Currently there is a public project database and various community events (Refresh TeachingLearning and Teaching Fair) where Innovedum projects are made visible. To compliment this an explicit expectation to systematically reflect on the effectiveness of Innovedum projects is now also part of the application and reporting process. Applicants are now encouraged to consider the impact the project will have on teaching and learning and therefore develop a coherent evaluation strategy from the beginning.

    Evaluation strategy: Describe the evaluation strategy you will use to check achievement of project goals and effects on teaching. What approaches will you use? Are you planning measures for identifying interim results? If so, how will these results flow back into the project?

    For help with designing an evaluation strategy apropriate lecturers can always contact their LSPs or LET.  

    Project communication: Making project insights visible

    Taking the findings made during the evaluation and sharing them with others will make it easier for new applicants to profit from the lessons others have learned and increase the quality of their own applications. Ultimately a clearer picture of how innovation in teaching in learning works at ETH will emerge and flow back in to educational development as a whole. 

    Project communication: How do you plan to publicise and document the progress of the project? What form will the final report for the Innovedum project database take? How will you disseminate project results?

    There are a multitude of spaces both at ETH and beyond where results and experiences can be shared. At ETH the following spaces are available:

    • LET-Blog. The blog is a place where effective and innovative teaching is featured as well as general projects and activities relating to teaching and learning. 
    • Refresh Teaching. A lunch-time seminar series where lecturers share and discuss their innovations in teaching.
    • Innoview and Competence view are two different dynamic websites which respectively feature innovative teaching projects or projects where cross-disciplinary competencies are explicitly fostered.  
    • Learning and Teaching Journal. The Journal publishes discussion as well as systematic reflections regarding discipline specific contributions.

    Please contact LET ( if you want to share your teaching project in one of these spaces. Any kind of projects are welcome, funded and non-funded.

    Beyond ETH there are frequent conferences where teaching staff are welcome to present such projects. The Swiss Faculty Development Network hosts an annual conference of this nature and scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) conferences are also a great opportunity.

    The Education Developer in your Departement ( can advise and support the communication of your project.

    You can find further information on the Innovedum website or contact the Innovedum office. Applications deadlines for focal and teaching projects are March 1st and October 1st every year.  

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    Engaging students through technology enhanced Feedback

    Teachers’ written commentary on student assignments is a fundamental element of instruction in almost any discipline. However, it is unclear what impact the feedback has on students. Consequently, teachers face fundamental questions for which no ready answers are available: Which components of commentary are most helpful, and how are they most effectively delivered? How can students’ uptake of commentary be optimised, and how can teachers be most efficient when providing commentary?

    Giving and receiving feedback with Edword

    Edword is an assignment feedback tool that provides answers to these questions; it quantifiably improves the quality and efficiency of commentary and its uptake and measures previously unobserved aspects of learning. Edword is an online platform to which students can upload written assignments of any kind set by teachers.

    Teachers´view of sample comments for a microbiology lab.

    Teachers can then add commentary to the text. These comments can be written individually as done in many traditional teaching settings, but Edword also enables the rapid application of prewritten comments from comment sets. These comment sets can address any aspects of written work in any discipline. They can be prepared by teachers working individually or shared between colleagues in teams.

    Students´view of feedback through a comment with additional video material.
    Sample comment for a common mistake in lab reports.

    Because they can be adjusted and augmented, a comment set can evolve as individual comments are added and improved. The quality and level of detail that can be delivered within the time available for commenting on assignments is thus substantially increased.

    When the student opens the commentary, the most important comments, selected by the teacher, are presented first and repeated comments bundled so that the student sees every instance of the same comment in the assignment. This allows the teacher to optimise individual students’ uptake of their commentary. Edword enables further optimisation by measuring two aspects of students’ engagement with the comments: the time the student spends with each individual comment is automatically recorded, and the student gives one of three responses—helpful, neutral, or unhelpful—to each comment. These data points are automatically collated by comment and assignment to provide a fine-grained evidence base for further adaptation of comment sets and commenting practice to the specific requirements of programs and disciplines.

    Successful pilot project

    Edword’s suitability for use with UZH and ETH students was tested in a pilot project between February and May 2020. Writing instructors from the English unit of the Language Center of UZH and ETH Zurich (LC) attended a LET Refresh Teaching event at ETH on 4 September 2019 where selected EdTech startups from the Kickstart Accelerator program presented their tools; here, they were introduced to the Edword online writing assessment tool. Seeing its potential, four writing instructors collaborated with LET and ran a pilot project to test Edword in their courses comprising 167 students in all. The instructors created and shared comment sets containing a total of over 350 specialized comments. The participating students were surveyed online about their experience with Edword at the end of their courses (response rate 32%). Some 87% said they preferred commentary via Edword over traditionally delivered comments.

    Potential for broader application at ETH

    The feedback processes in Edword can be used to provide highly nuanced and sophisticated commentary for any kind of written assignment, and comment sets can be adapted to the demands of any discipline. The comment sets can be written centrally or developed collaboratively or individually, and the uptake of commentary is monitored in detail. Further test groups can demonstrate the range of academic contexts in which Edword is applicable. Please contact Melanie Walter if you are interested in trying out Edword in your ETH course.

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