05. May 2021

Sitem-insel School: reshaping blended learning

Ester Elices - Other topics

Rapidly growing its blended learning portfolio, the sitem-insel School keeps evolving according to its students’ needs. It clearly lives up to its mission – to convert scientific findings into clinical applications.

Founded in 2015 as part of the University of Bern, sitem-insel School offers personalised continuing education (MAS, DAS, CAS), promotes research and trains executives and graduates from engineering, life sciences and medicine backgrounds in the fields of Translational Medicine and Biomedical Entrepreneurship; AI in Medical Imaging and Medical Device Regulations.

We find out how the School coped with the challenges COVID-19 poured into the education system, how they develop blended learning programmes, their research and start-up activities.


The Learning approach

The School’s blended learning approach integrates self-pace e-learning in combination with face-to-face on-site workshops (moved to videoconference due to COVID-19), giving students the flexibility to customise their learning experience. Such concept aims to provide a more collaborative and engaging classroom environment. In fact, peer review and feedback are core elements of the programmes. The programme team has also integrated the flipped classroom concept – a learning setting where students prepare for lectures through digital materials and discuss concepts among themselves and lecturers during face-to-face and online sessions. The School’s lecturers include more than 130 seasoned experts from industry, academia, hospital environments and government agencies.

Impact of COVID-19

Prof. Dr. Juergen Burger, Director of the School and SATW member, explains how the School had to re-think the delivery of the programmes. “The pandemic showed that the current education system has some drawbacks, especially if we focus on our target audience – most of our students work part-time or have other commitments. It was important for the School to allow students to attend face-to-face sessions, so we moved our programmes to an online format overnight”.

The School continued to deliver its MAS, DAS and CAS programmes despite lockdowns and restrictions. “We adapted relatively well thanks to the flexibility that our programmes offer. Some students were already studying fully online. On the other hand, we intend to resume face-to-face workshops at sitem-insel in September 2021, at the latest. We understand that in-person learning brings high level of student engagement and provides more opportunities for networking, which is very important as our students continue to develop their projects. A good balance between e-learning and face-to-face suits most of our students”, concludes Prof. Burger.

Course design and quality

Dr. Pascale Anderle, Vice Director of the School, underlines how the programmes are developed to ensure course quality. “We develop our courses together with subject matter experts from industry and academia. Our upmost priority is to offer relevant, state-of-the-art content that students can apply to their project”, states Dr. Anderle. “The coaching aspect to our programmes is a major factor to our students’ success. Experts from industry mentor our students so that their projects move along much quicker. Our module leaders and lecturers are entrepreneurs, doctors and consultants from life sciences and healthcare industries – they guide our students every step of the way”.

Custom programmes, research and start-up support

The latest concept developed by the School is the Industry-based Learning, an elective available in the MAS/DAS in Medical Device Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance programme. Through the partnerships the School has forged over the past years and with the purpose of bringing junior candidates into the job market, students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at a MedTech company while they study.

Furthermore, the School has started to develop custom-designed programmes. The School’s programme team co-designs innovative learning solutions and suitable curriculums to fit the needs of different target audiences within a company, allowing them to train their staff in key areas to their success. The School is able to deploy programmes at national and international level, as well as in different languages.

Alongside training, the School has additional foundations in research under the sitem Center. The state-of-the-art research Center focuses on the development of new medical technologies – from conception to clinical use – and the effects of healthcare regulation. The Center is also involved in teaching activities (Masters of Science such as in Biomedical Engineering and Artificial Intelligence in Medicine) and its broad portfolio of national and international multidisciplinary research projects focus on five clusters:

  • The Cardiac Technology and Implantable Devices group investigates novel technical solutions for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, i.e., cardiac arrhythmias.
  • The Smart Surgical Instruments and Medical Devices group focuses on developing novel and minimal-invasive implantable devices, smart surgical instruments and technologies.
  • The Personalised Medicine Research group investigates novel technologies to ensure that the right treatment is delivered to the right patient at the right time, focusing on the development of automated technologies (i.e., AI technologies) for patient specific screening, diagnosis, treatment planning and outcome prediction.
  • The Center of Excellence for Decision Analytic Modelling and Health Economics Research supports decision makers in making evidence-based and scientifically robust decisions in an increasingly complex world, such as in a Corona pandemic.
  • The Healthcare Regulation and Management group investigates the effects of regulatory measures in the healthcare sector.

Currently, the sitem-insel School supports 23 start-ups across various healthcare sectors in Switzerland; by offering scholarships to outstanding projects in MedTech, biotech and pharma. Located on the Inselspital campus, the sitem-insel School is ideally positioned to strengthen the Swiss start-up ecosystem. It also offers co-working space and laboratory access to start-ups in cooperation with the newly founded Sitem StartUp Club (SSC) and Sitem MedTech Hub (SMH).


If you wish to learn more about the School, the MAS and CAS programmes and upcoming events, please email: school(at)sitem.unibe.ch

Ivan Santos - Learning & Marketing Project Manager

sitem-insel & University of Bern

This is a guest contribution.

New comment