Connecting communities of learners across continents: The Shangh AI Lectures

Fabio Bonsignorio, Nathan Labhart, Christopher Lueg, Rolf Pfeifer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


It is widely recognized that knowledge sharing and learning are most effective when occurring in an appropriate and supportive context. As a consequence when designing an educational process the context has to be carefully considered. Implementing 'situated learning' is straightforward in traditional apprenticeship models that inspired the communities of practice model, and the centuries old university model, but poses a formidable challenge when knowledge and associated practices are to be shared with large numbers of students as it is the case in most contemporary, demand-driven universities and even more in MOOCs. The traditional, and well tested, face-to-face teaching model that is in place does not scale even if videoconferencing is utilized to include students at remote locations. A few years ago, MOOCs were presented as a viable 'solution', but while participant numbers remain impressive, experiences also suggest that the learning experience does not scale as easily. In this paper we discuss an alternative knowledge sharing and learning model, the Shangh AI Lectures (SHAIL) developed at the University of Zurich, Switzerland in response to the need of making top quality higher education available to a worldwide audience. SHAIL combines some of the strongest aspects of traditional face-to-face teaching, but also allows lecturing from and to a community which is globally distributed. Findings from delivering the Shangh AI Lectures annually over five consecutive years to up to twenty universities from across the globe (North America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania) suggest that SHAIL is a promising way to address 'global teaching', but there are also challenges to be addressed such as: finding a common base with respect to university requirements, student goals and expectations, teaching styles, and of course the actual technologies used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2014 International Conference on Intelligent Environments, IE 2014
EditorsVic Callaghan, Liping Shen, Simon Egerton, Ruimin Shen, Jianbo Su, Juan Carlos Augusto, Minjuan Wang, Minjuan Wang, Tongzhen Zhang
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781479929474
StatePublished - Sep 25 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event10th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, IE 2014 - Shanghai, China
Duration: Jun 30 2014Jul 4 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2014 International Conference on Intelligent Environments, IE 2014


Conference10th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, IE 2014


  • Higher Education
  • Intercultural Education
  • MOOC
  • Multimedia
  • Videoconferencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications


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