The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has had a lasting impact on all areas of personal life. However, the political, economic, legal and healthcare system, as well as the education system have also experienced the effects. Universities had to face new challenges and requirements in teaching and examinations as quickly as possible in order to be able to guarantee high-quality education for their students.This study aims to examine how the German-speaking medical faculties of the Umbrella Consortium of Assessment Network have dealt with the challenges but also the opportunities that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic created in medical education and whether digitalisation has been driven forward as a result. In an initial online-survey we focused our questions on the current teaching situation with regard to digitised teaching content, the support or establishment of adequate framework conditions by the medical faculties and IT facilities and also the execution of examinations during the summer semester 2020.Between August and September 2020, a total of 88 examiners, educators, dean of study and/or technical admins from 32 partner faculties took part in the survey. Students were not included in our survey. Most respondents stated that a switch to a digital semester had worked, the use of e-learning increased compared to previous semesters and that most courses could be converted, with the exception of practical courses, which were largely cancelled. The respondents also indicated that most examinations could still be taken, with the exception of practical examination formats, like Objective Structured Clinical Examinations. However, in the case of face-to-face examinations, strict distance and hygiene conditions had to be obeyed or there had to be a switch to distance-online examinations, which raised many open issues such as equal opportunities of students and attempts at deception.In conclusion, we identified several issues regarding the rapid transition to a digital semester due to COVID-19 which were categorised into the following topics: Face-to-face teaching could not take place, know-how of educators, integrity aspects, technical aspects, additional personnel required, additional time and effort required for implementation of digital teaching. Our study shows that a switch to digital teaching and distance online examinations is feasible, but many problems were encountered concerning academic integrity and basic ethical principles still need to be solved. In order to investigate whether above mentioned issued could be solved one year after the transition to a digital semester, we conducted a second survey in which the 32 initially surveyed institutions were questioned again.
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DOI 10.1007/s40979-021-00084-8
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