When it comes to digital learning, Europe still has some catching up to do - as Pandemic-related school lockdowns show. Do you think that your e-learning offerings can remain an exciting supplementary tool even with the return to face-to-face teaching?
Röggla: Absolutely. Take the U.S. for example. The e-learning platform edX, developed by Harvard University and MIT, can absolutely compete with face-to-face classes. In 2020, 35 million people worldwide participated in edX courses - they are also an important source of revenue for universities. In the U.S., there are also now publicly traded companies like Coursera, which specialise in online education courses, in 2020 they made$200 million in revenue and had 76 million course participants.
In 2020, however, we also explored new opportunities. Today, because of webinars, I no longer have to travel halfway around the world to communicate South Tyrolean autonomy or participate in interesting events. I can beam well-known speakers to my home office or give a lecture in Munich and Bangkok in one afternoon. To have a Nobel Prize winner such as Joseph Stiglitz coming to the hard-to-reach South Tyrol, would be a bit of a reach to say the least however, Eurac Research was able to win him over for a webinar. This will remain the case even after the Pandemic. Video conferences are also more climate-friendly. According to a study by the German Transport Association, it pays to switch to a virtual meeting if you travel more than five kilometers by car.