Courageous expeditions to new territory

Is there a creative semester in which new ideas for the digital teaching of the future will be tried out under the pressure of the corona crisis and the resulting shutdown of the universities? Or does it amount to a non-semester?

The most likely option at the moment is probably a flexisemester, in which students who receive a reasonable digital offer and can take advantage of it technically and health-wise partly perform. And make up for the rest with everyone else when the presence operation gradually starts up again.

In any case, everyone is working on digital success – or still discussing whether and how. We were allowed to listen to some of these workshops. Five encouraging protocols were created – recorded by Amory Burchard.

Gabriele Penn-Karras is a lecturer at the Institute for Mathematics at the Technical University of Berlin.

Gabriele Penn-Karras steht in einem Gebäude der TU Berlin auf einer Empore.

Gabriele Penn-Karras, mathematics lecturer at the TU Berlin. Photo: Alexander Rensch / TU Berlin

Before a A few years ago, the Innovation Campus asked me if I would agree to record one of my lectures. At that time I refused, you give something away in front of the camera.

But now it was clear that I wanted the course that I had 24. February, continue. I like the students and didn't want to leave them in the rain after half a course.

I still had a week to record videos in the empty lecture hall, then the university was closed. So I was told: You can hold your lecture, we let the camera run along, but there is no time for editing afterwards. That's why you also hear how I wash the sponge and see how I wipe the board. This also gives the students time to catch their breath.

Background information on the corona virus:

  • Interactive map: All confirmed coronavirus infections by counties and federal states
  • Senate decides contact restrictions: What is still allowed in Berlin now
  • Closures, hotlines, contact points: You have to know that, here in Berlin you can get help
  • Sick of the corona virus or just a cold? What you know about the symptoms
  • Day by day: On our interactive map you can see how the virus has spread globally

If you are otherwise unable to write everything down, you can press the stop button. I did everything as usual in lectures: blackboard with formulas and drawings, my explanations. I can predict and answer some of the usual questions even without students.

After the week in the lecture hall I continued at home with a laptop, webcam, paper and pen. Do I need further training for this? There is no time for that right now, it has to go without. But of course it is an emergency solution, there is no direct interaction. I hope that I will be able to stand in front of the students again in the next course.

Norbert Palz is professor for digital and experimental design at the Berlin University of the Arts and has been President of the UdK since April 1st.

Norbert Palz steht im Treppenhaus eines Mehrfamilienhauses und hält eine Urkunde in der Hand.

Distant appointment . Norbert Palz, since April 1 2020 president of the UdK, got his Certificate of appointment in the stairwell in front of … Photo: Privat

My On Monday, an employee of the Senate Chancellery for Science placed the certificate of appointment to take office as UdK President on the landing in front of my apartment. Personal, but with a great distance and without the usual decor.

It was something of an emergency wedding in times of crisis. And it fits the experimental approaches that we should now find as an artistic university to our tasks.

I am in a positive mood because I always suspect that a change in the medium will also help me gain knowledge. Certain subjects do this better than others – and each member of the university in their own way. For many it is unusual that we cannot find a precise translation into digital from analog experiences.

But now it is important to develop pragmatic solutions from the available digital toolbox. This will work better in the art and media course than in a bassoon class. Our musicians, whether they teach or learn, are so difficult that we would need studio conditions on the transmitter and receiver side in order to be able to give the lessons fully digitally.

In this respect, we are going to the UdK from 20. April until the normalization of teaching about 30 until 40 Can digitally represent percent of the study and examination program. We want to fight – despite all the flexibility offered – to maintain our high artistic standards.

Overall, this improvisational note of the emergency situation sees the opportunity for a new exchange between the teachers and between the Faculties.

Martina Mörth heads the Berlin Center for University Teaching, a cooperation facility of 13 Berlin universities.

Martina Mörth sitzt mit Headset am Laptop, ihr Sohn zeigt ihr seine Arbeitsblätter.

Martina Mörth, director of the Berlin Center for University Teaching, manages a digital workshop at home office and homeschooling … Photo: Magnus Vogel

Over the past few days, I have hosted a webinar every day and also support our lecturers, who have only known face-to-face events, with their online seminars. These are, for example, didactic workshops for new professionals, which we digitized at short notice.

For many, digital teaching and learning is new – I now have around four weeks of experience. In addition to “normal” university didactics, such as the question of how we plan input, processing and discussion phases, there is now the task of doing this ad hoc in digital formats.

Information about the corona situation at the universities

  • Interview with the State Secretary of Science: “We do not want to speak of a cancellation of the semester”
  • Berlin universities in Emergency operation: How the Senate supports digitization and what universities are doing
  • Worries of the freelance lecturers: Uncertain times for lecturers
  • Students in financial need: An aid fund if jobs are cut and the student loan is no longer sufficient

In the webinar, the new professionals learn on two levels: content and as participants ehmende from the perspective of the students. You will also learn what can not work. Adobe Connect didn't work in one day, so we had to switch to Skype at short notice. A participant who was very experienced in it then took over the switch on Skype and invited everyone. It is a large laboratory where we learn together.

In addition, I work in the home office with two primary school children. So I look after them “in school” in the morning. After lunch I have a Skype conference with my team (three permanent employees and four student assistants), and from 14. 30 I will then prepare the content of the webinars and the layout in Adobe Connect.

If a webinar at 17 clock begins, the participants meet at 16. 30 clock for the technology check on (microphone, headset, camera etc.). After the webinar I have to prepare the self-study tasks and send the participants promised documents – this often goes to 23 o'clock.

Fortunately my partner does the shopping, because I can hardly get out of the apartment.

Susanne Zepp is a professor of Romance Studies at the Free University and co-initiator of the German-Israeli Virtual Campus.

Susanne Zepp sitzt in ihrem Wohnzimmertisch mit Headset vor einem Laptop, neben ihr liegt ein Smartphone.

Susanne Zepp, Romance Professor at the Free University , is recording her introductory lecture as a podcast – about the networks and the … Photo: A Zwirner

Two years ago we recorded various lectures as videos for the model project of the German-Israeli Virtual Campus. With a lot of time in our studio in the university library, accompanied by a team from the FU's Center for Digital Systems (CeDis).

Now I'm sitting at home with a smartphone and notebook and taking my overview lecture on the Spanish one Literature history as a podcast – and I think the result will be very good.

From the German-Israeli Virtual Campus I know: A digital lecture is not allowed 90 minutes, but must be in units of at most 15 minutes. So I am currently rewriting my scripts accordingly.

I chose the pure audio format because we cannot assume that all students have a good network connection, their own computer and their own study have conditions to stream lectures via video. The asynchronous formats in manageable file sizes are simply fairer.

CeDis has set up a helpful website for all forms of e-learning. We can work very well with this.

In total, I am currently converting four courses. All course documents have already been scanned and placed on a blackboard. I also design self-tests and worksheets so that the students can work with the texts in a structured manner. At the seminar hours I will be online and ready for questions and discussions.

The current crisis, in which everyone is switching to e-learning at short notice and with great commitment, makes it even clearer how important long-term and sustainable promotion of meaningful digital teaching and learning formats is – especially for international cooperation, which is also strongly affected by the consequences of Covid – 19 suffers.

Jurik Stiller is a research assistant in didactics of teaching at Humboldt University.

Ein Porträtbild von Jurik Stiller.

Jurik Stiller teaches didactics of subject teaching at the Humboldt University – and dreams of new digital formats in which … Photo: private

In teacher training for we have a trial field in primary schools. Relatively new study regulations, much more students than before – we had just redesigned all courses. When it came to digitization, however, we mostly remained very classic. Apart from PowerPoint and the use for Moodle to communicate with the students, we used alarmingly little digital media.

The infrastructures for this were also not available. Now the data center tells us: You didn't ask. And now we should just get started with digital formats to start teaching without attendance 20. To perform April?

So far we have been discussing whether and how. For example, via the Zoom conference system, which we use as an alternative to the often overloaded existing offers of the German Research Network, although it is suspect in terms of data protection.

About the form of the digital courses: whether everyone likes their didactics seminar always pulling through and filming themselves, or whether we can get a joint cover, a wide range of options, where students can put together their own range of courses better than before.

Work performance is stop motion -Films, wiki or blog entries possible. I see this as a great opportunity to come up with contemporary, cooperative forms of teaching and learning. Others see the uncertainty as to whether they are technically and temporally capable of doing so. Or whether in the end we should not “digitize for the garbage can” if the semester either fails completely or takes place faster than expected in the classroom.