Practical Work in the Vineyard Goes Digital


In the summer semester 2020, many face-to-face courses had to be switched to digital formats due to Corona restrictions. This was particularly challenging for modules with a high amount of practical components. In the module “General and Organic Viticulture Project“, students supervise various practical project in small groups. After a joint introduction, the groups get down to work in their assigned parts of the vineyard under the supervision of the instructors. Due to Corona restrictions, however, this was not possible at the beginning of the semester.

In the previous semesters, it was this individual responsibility for one's own part of the vineyard that made the students feel involved. To compensate for this practical experience, the teachers created groups in Stud.IP and organized weekly video conferences to inform the students about the current conditions in the vineyard and organizational aspects. Every Monday, they posted videos and PowerPoint presentations with audio comments (15-20 minutes) on different topics. These topics were then discussed in video conferences with individual groups (15 people).

While the students in the project module were able to draw on previous knowledge, the "Introduction to Viticulture" module in the second semester of the International Wine Business program had to focus on the basics of viticulture. That's why the course consisted mainly of video conferences, videos and presentations, which were easily integrated due to the small group size. A survey and chat tool allowed students to provide feedback. The biggest challenge was to keep the students involved and engaged.

In retrospect, there were a few factors that proved to be key in online teaching: being approachable and available for questions, addressing problems as quickly as possible, fostering trust. These factors where challenging sometimes, but essential. However, self-discipline in communication is also crucial. On the one hand, students have the right to receive a timely response, but on the other hand, it is also important for teachers to maintain some distance, i.e. not to be available all the time. Overall, this form of implementation was very time-consuming, but was rewarded with good feedback from the students.   

Communication and collaboration
Student communication was a top priority throughout the whole semester. Different tools and approaches were tested and adjusted based on student feedback. In addition to teaching technical knowledge, it was important for the success of the module that students had the opportunity to get to know each other and actively participate in class. To encourage student participation, the “Krähennest” project group tested several participation tools and games in video conferences. In addition to icebreaker games such as “I packed by bag – viticulture edition”, digital whiteboards were used for collaboration, which increased student participation and group discussions.  Sometimes, the video conferences were scheduled on a flexible basis because the students worked in the family businesses during the day as no seasonal workers were available during that time. Therefore, the video calls were often scheduled in the evenings.

Practical phase

When the project group came together for the first face-to-face session in the vineyard at the end of May/beginning of June, they were able to get right down to the practical work despite the purely digital preparation in front of the computer. Since the basics were explained in advance, the students could focus even more on the practical work in the vineyard. Even with a return to classic classroom teaching, some digital elements will therefore certainly be integrated into the module concept.

Learning objectives
The students will…

  • … get to know the basics required for practical work in the vineyard
  • … be able to apply these skills in the vineyard


  • PowerPoint Presentations with audio comments and instructional videos
  • Video conferences for consolidation
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Preparation for practical work in the vineyard

Technical implementation

  • Stud.IP course
  • MP4 videos (PowerPoint presentations with audio comments)
  • BBB and Zoom with breakout rooms