Germany’s Leuphana launches Online-University

Students from all over the world design models for life in the city – credit points against degree earned – architect Daniel Libeskind assumes the leadership

The Leuphana University Lüneburg is entering the online tertiary education sector. Participation in its new „Digital School“ is open to people from all over the world free of charge and with unrestricted admission. Leuphana is the first German University to offer its digital range via its own individual facility. A special feature is the awarding of credits. Depending on their home university these credits may be countable towards the participating students‘ degree program.

In the first Leuphana-Online-University course „ThinkTank Cities“ participants design models for future living in urban centers under the direction of renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. The closing date for applications is January 7. Details can be found on the Leuphana webpage The three-month course starts on January 9, 2013.

So-called social learning systems are radically changing the field of academic education and setting new standards for the communication of knowledge. Internationally distinguished scientists from the Columbia University New York, the Arizona State University, the London School of Economics, the Goldsmiths University of London, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the ETH Zurich, the Collegium Helveticum and the University of Zurich, the Sun Yat-Sen University Guangzhou and the City University Hong Kong, as well as leading experts from politics, media and economy will be advising students participating in the first online course at Leuphana.

The education platform used by Leuphana for its Digital School is called Candena Scholar and was developed by Candena, a Digital Media start-up of the EU Lüneburg Innovation Incubator, which specializes in conceptual design of educational platforms and making them available for global online courses.

Project partner is the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The course is supported by the campus management systems designer Datenlotsen, Tipp24 SE and the business and career network Xing.

Participants in the Leuphana online course „ThinkTank Cities“ will be working in teams of five. They will solve theoretical and practical assignments and accompany the work of the other groups through commentary and evaluation. Further down the line they will translate their ideas of the city of the future into 2D- and 3D-models.

For the architect Daniel Libeskind this project is „a chance to develop a vision for our living together in the 21st century using the intelligence of thousands of multi-disciplinary teams“. Libeskind has developed numerous innovative concepts around the world. One of his main works is the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Since summer 2007 he has assumed an avocational professorship at the Leuphana University. He also designed the new central building at the Leuphana University in co-operation with students. Building work has just begun.

„Online courses of study are the democratization of academic education“

The Digital School at the Leuphana University Lüneburg wants to set benchmarks for social learning. „It is the ideal way to democratize academic education“, says Holm Keller, Executive Vice President of Leuphana and responsible for the project. For him, the linking of social media such as YouTube or Facebook with traditional correspondence courses leads to a new form of university education.

„Online courses of study modularize the contents of teaching and make them available for anyone, any place and any time – without fixed timetables, money or admission requirements“ according to Keller. The aim would be globally standardized education platforms, which are flexible and can be adapted to the needs of the students while ideally offering recognized academic degrees.

The Leuphana University sees itself as a public university for the civil society of the 21st century. Its unique study model, the first of its kind in Germany, has received numerous awards. There are more than 8000 young people studying at Leuphana.