Digital teaching – many lecturers feel prepared

How well are teachers at German universities prepared to switch to distance learning in the wake of the coronavirus crisis? After all, a quarter consider themselves able to continue the teaching program digitally immediately.

Approximately 20 Percent consider the switch to online-based teaching concepts feasible within a month. Ten percent consider the start of the semester to be a realistic fixed point – it took a little longer for this to take place at the time of the survey. Only four percent state that they cannot switch at all.

This is the result of an ongoing study by the Berlin Wheat Tree Institute for networked society. The head of the WI research group “Education and Continuing Education in the Digital Society”, Gergana Vladova, has lectured professors to more than 100 German universities asked about the online competencies of their chairs.

“Opportunity for sustainable digitization of teaching”

The results are still included To be cautious – on the one hand, the survey has not yet been fully evaluated, on the other hand, the various subjects in the study are not mapped evenly. Nevertheless, you can give a first insight into the web skills of the universities.

“More than half of those surveyed see the Corona crisis as an opportunity for a sustainable digitalization of university teaching,” says Gergana Vladova.

Fragen und Antworten zum Coronavirus

In addition to the study by the Weizenbaum Institute, the IT specialist also spoke to numerous school and university teachers abroad, not least to colleagues from the von Covid- 19 particularly troubled Chinese province of Hubei. There, teachers at schools and universities have long had to deal with the difficult question of how lessons can be digitized.

Challenge: the psychological component of homework

The same applies to Hong Kong, for example, where digital substitutes for traditional classroom teaching have already been tried out in the course of protests against the Chinese central government. It has been shown that the main problem of digital teaching is less the technical feasibility than the social and psychological component.

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Thus, technical development not only provides the possibility of broadcasting lectures and frontal lessons via live stream or video recording. Events such as seminars and school hours can also be carried out digitally.

But it is a blatant difference whether you learn in physical contact with others or spend hours alone in front of the screen, says Vladova . “Social interaction is extremely important for learning, especially among children and adolescents.” The senses would also be challenged if you only learn on the computer.

There is a lack of training for teachers

Vladova's assessment is reflected in the answers from the current wheat tree study. Because less than 30 percent of the respondents see the technology as the biggest challenge – far more than half, however, holds the acceptance of teachers for the digital university and its central organization for the current main problem.

Above all, there is a lack of training for teachers. In addition, the respondents complain that so far there have been predominantly isolated solutions that vary depending on the subject and university.

A common digital strategy is needed especially for schools

Even more than for universities, a common digital strategy is needed for schools, since students are more willing than students to work independently, says Vladova. Together with her colleague André Renz, she wants to research how such a system can look and how it should be implemented in the coming months. “What doesn't work is that we transfer the common didactic concepts and methods one-to-one into digital”.

Educational research must therefore provide comprehensive scientific support for the changeover process. “With the Corona crisis, we are in a live experiment that requires us to develop new methods in education,” says Vladova.

Purely online-based concepts are one Emergency solution

The mere conversion to online-based concepts can only be a corona-related and hopefully temporary emergency solution. Whether in China or Germany – despite all the acceptance for technological change, nobody wants an exclusively digital teaching program, says the scientist.

Because school and university teaching in its current form are also cultural achievements with which it is not just a matter of conveying information, but of developing values ​​together. Vladova sees a long-term tendency towards “blended learning”, a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching. “We have to find out together how to find the right balance between digital and analog teaching.”