Top Swiss hospitality school shows how blended learning is the way of the future |

EHL blended learning
Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

These days, much of tertiary education has gone online – since the impact of COVID-19, rapid adoption of technology-assisted teaching methods means that blended learning models have become prevalent.

“Blended learning” integrates online educational materials and digital media like Teams, Zoom or other similar apps with traditional instructor-led in-person classes. Although students in the 21st century are highly accustomed to gathering information and learning online, the benefits of in-person discussions cannot be underestimated. Blended learning brings the teacher and classmates together to challenge each other to think more deeply, improve reasoning skills, and cultivate person-to-person skills that are essential in any career.

EHL is a pioneer in blended learning

Blended learning at EHL (Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne) isn’t new – it’s been happening since 2017 to make classes accessible to all students and maximise the individualisation of learning content for each of them. 

As Switzerland’s top hospitality university – ranked #1 in QS Top Universities from 2019-2021 – EHL has evolved and adapted along with the hospitality industry which has borne witness to plenty of disruptions over the years, long before COVID-19. It’s also a testament to EHL’s durability and innovation – after all, EHL is the world’s first hospitality school, having been founded in 1893. 

EHL is also one of the top 5 business management institutions in Switzerland. This is thanks to their core expertise of hospitality management as a key differentiator for teaching management, finance, and marketing courses. Their success is evident in the fact that EHL graduates have been sought after in a diverse range of industries, including banking, real estate, consulting, luxury goods, and more.

Blended learning caters to every learner

EHL adopts a HyFlex (hybrid flexible) mode of blended learning, where students can choose to take classes online, in a classroom, or both, giving them the freedom to study when and where they want. EHL uses virtual reality for practical demonstrations and facilitates learning through gaming and video content. Exams are done online with the aid of anti-cheat artificial intelligence systems. 

As each student is different – some love homework, some prefer lectures, some are procrastinators – the blended learning model makes it easier for them to adapt. As physical class sizes have reduced, there is more opportunity for one-on-one interactions, and with lectures recorded, students who have missed a session can still access materials. “The recorded lectures are really useful because I can go through them again and again. It reduces the time for me duplicating questions that teachers have answered. And I can raise more valuable questions to the professor while attending classes in-person,” says Year 2 student Ginny Wang.

Depending on the class or module, a variety of blended learning styles are applied. In some modules, you may find every class divided equally between online and classroom sessions. Other classes may adopt a flipped classroom model where students view lecture material before going to class where they engage in exercises with the teacher and fellow students. Some classes may even be conducted completely online.

“Today’s students have grown up in a world of technology. While learning can now be delivered on-demand, certain key skills still need to be cultivated: critical thinking, creativity, relationship-building, questioning, problem-solving, and communicating. Every student learns differently, and this is where good educators act as facilitators, bridging the gap between online and in-person experiential learning,” according to Jenny Ang, Managing Director, EHL Campus (Singapore).

via Pexels

For many students, the adaptation to blended learning was swift and easier than they expected. “With the Hyflex model, I have been able to retain the very important relationship and interaction with teachers. Even when learning from home the teacher’s interaction with students in class helps to foster participation,” says Year 2 student Guilhem Echivard. Fellow Year 2 student, Lena Chan agrees: “Some teachers really try to engage students by encouraging the ‘raise hand’ feature, compulsory videos, asking questions[…] They incorporate games as well, like Kahoot and Menti.”

The BSc in International Hospitality Management programme at EHL is normally undertaken in Singapore, Switzerland, or both, with internships anywhere in the world slotted in between. Even with the blended learning model, the trajectory of students hasn’t changed. Most students have continued with their internships at companies like Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Black Sheep Restaurants, PwC, and Daniel Wellington as planned.

Blended learning at EHL’s new campus

For hospitality students, where person-to-person interaction is vital, physical classes are obviously essential. However, blended classes utilising the latest technology are proving to be the ideal way of incorporating both in-person and virtual classes, allowing educators to better cater to every learner. EHL recognises this, so it is well prepared to cater to both blended and future in-person learning at the new campus in Singapore.

In addition to its original campuses at Lausanne and Passugg in Switzerland, its first Asia-based campus in Singapore is located on Lady Hill Road in the leafy Tanglin area near Orchard Road. Once a boarding school for children of British soldiers, the former Kinloss House has since been restored to its classic beauty. 

The newly-restored building is a blend of history and the latest technology, with super connected classrooms fully equipped with the latest hardware and software to facilitate blended learning. This sprawling campus will receive its first cohort of the internationally recognised BSc in International Hospitality Management degree in the fall of 2021.

Making blended learning work

Given how highly globalised the hospitality industry is, by design EHL has always embraced the potential for digital education as part of a rigorous hospitality education, giving graduates the confidence to manage the digital revolution in addition to hospitality and management skills. 

EHL’s successful implementation of the HyFlex learning system is leading the way into a new realm of education.

“With blended learning, we are able to accompany the student for a longer period of time in their learning process and to be able to make the best use of face-to-face time to make this moment an exchange rather than a frontal transmission, which is often less effective,” says Dr Luciano Lopez, Dean of EHL Campus (Singapore).

Studies have shown that blended learning reduces failure rates, improves learning, and boosts engagement. About 73% of teachers say blended learning increases engagement, while 60% of teachers noticed that it improves academic ability.

What does the future of hospitality hold?

The world for hospitality looks very different from the one we know just a few years ago thanks to the changes that the pandemic has introduced. While nearly every industry has been affected by the pandemic, hospitality has been hit particularly hard. However, the undeniable fact is people are still interested in exploring new places and having new experiences. The question lies in uncovering what these experiences will look like moving forward, and EHL’s programmes are now focused on what the hospitality industry will look like in the future.

via Unsplash

The 4-year BSc in International Hospitality Management is uniquely structured, offering 2 specialised pathways: academic and professional. Both cover everything from operations to key management tools, and business strategy, complemented by two different styles of internships throughout the course. The first is an operations-related internship where you hone your practical skills, and the second is where you take on an administrative role to flex your business management skills. These 24-week (minimum) internships enhance your CV by helping you build real-world experiences and give you valuable connections in the industry. 

The popular academic pathway is split between EHL’s campuses in Switzerland and Singapore. Students based in the Singapore Campus will take their first semester in Lausanne before finishing their remaining 3 years in Singapore, while those based in the Lausanne Campus will take all 4 years in Lausanne with opportunities to do an exchange in Passugg or Singapore. Regardless of which campus they’re based in, students will be bouncing worldwide on internships for two semesters. This academic pathway is ideal for those who thrive in a dynamic university environment with group assignments and internships. 

The professional pathway, on the other hand, suits those seeking a deeper physical immersion and who are passionate about the culinary arts, communication, and hotel management. Students will learn at the hotel-resort setting at Passugg before finishing their final semester at the Lausanne campus. 

Seize the opportunity now 

The future cohort of hospitality leaders will be a smart community of people who can deliver added human value to our ever-changing world. Are you ready to help redefine the future of hospitality? Then see how EHL can equip you with a blend of autonomous thinking, empathy, and leadership skills – delivered via a flexible blended learning model – to fulfill your dreams. Visit EHL to learn more about their Bachelor programme.