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1. Presentation

An unexpected shock

Nobody predicted the magnitude of everything that has happened. Less than 90 days went by from the detection of the first case of Covid-19 in the world, in mid-December, to the closure of the campuses at UPF and the other Catalan universities on 13 March. Less than three months for a virus initially viewed as not particularly aggressive to spread unchecked around the planet, forcing billions into lockdown.

Less than three months to learn a single truth: the world will not be the same in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. That is the one thing we know for sure. The questions concerning exactly how it will affect the social, economic and cultural aspects of humanity are myriad and daunting.

So far, in the specific case of universities, the immediate impact has been remarkable. Face-to-face teaching has been suspended until at least the end of the academic year, and the entire system has been overhauled. The change was abrupt and sudden, taking place virtually overnight, and it has placed a great strain on all institutions, whose objective is to enable the academic year to go on as smoothly as possible.

Crises such as today’s often give rise to opportunities we could never have imagined. The current crisis, for example, has suddenly aligned the entire UPF community around the need to explore and exploit online learning more efficiently and effectively.

At UPF, the goal was to transition as agilely and efficiently as possible from face-to-face to online teaching. That goal has been achieved through the efforts of a team of people aware of the exceptional situation we are in and our students, who are likewise fully cognizant of the extraordinary nature of these times. It was also made possible by the university’s digital transformation, strategically planned and executed over the last ten years, which has afforded us accessible, flexible and scalable environments.

Crises such as today’s often give rise to opportunities we could never have imagined. The current crisis, for example, has suddenly aligned the entire UPF community around the need to explore and exploit online learning more efficiently and effectively. That is a path we had already started down thanks to the EDvolution project. Now, we have the opportunity to accelerate some aspects and tackle a new challenge.