Digital Literacy in University Contexts

Empowering university staff and students in the critical use of AI writing tools for first and foreign languages


  • Lead school School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences
  • Additional schools Business School
  • Institute Knowledge Systems and Knowledge Sharing
  • Research unit Knowledge Systems and Knowledge Sharing
  • Funding organisation BFH
  • Duration (planned) 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024
  • Project management Elizabeth Steele
  • Head of project Elizabeth Steele
  • Project staff Elizabeth Steele
    Mara Haller
    Daniel Dünner
    Tina Maurer
    Prof. Dr. Reinhard Riedl
    Nicole Küffer
  • Partner swissuniversities
    Berner Fachhochschule BFH
    Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften
    Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich
    Université de Neuchâtel
  • Keywords machine learning, generative artificial intelligence, neural machine translation, machine translation, large language models, automatic text production


This project is co-financed by swissuniversities via the P-8 programme. Recent developments in artificial intelligence have resulted in neural machine translation (NMT), eg DeepL, and automatic text production (ATP), eg ChatGPT. These are powerful tools for the tertiary-level teaching and learning of first, second and foreign language use. The project aims to foster digital literacy in university staff and students to empower them in harnessing these tools critically. Multilingual communication in the academic context should thus be facilitated.

Course of action

Comprehensive literature review; online survey of all Swiss university staff and students on their current use of and attitude towards machine translation; focus-group interviews at partner universities (staff only) regarding current use of and attitude towards automatic text production; interventions at all Swiss universities based on the survey results; follow-up online survey of intervention participants and subsequent individual interviews; dissemination of project findings via publications and conferences (Swiss and European); project website containing teaching and learning resources.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 4: Quality education