The country needs more educational activists

They are called Bildungspunks and have their own Twitter account. They see homeschooling as an opportunity to be creative – and to exchange ideas about what has already worked out in digital lessons. Before the Easter holidays, they started to collect “support materials” that committed teachers have featured on Twitter for lists to make them widely available.

Tips range from recommendations for the best conference platforms to on specific tasks for distance learning in all grades and school types.

“The educational punks were active before the school closed and now they are even more active – and they take a lot of teachers with them,” says Felicitas Macgilchrist , Professor of Media Research at the University of Göttingen. She heads the Media Transformation department at the Georg Eckert Institute – Leibniz Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig, and various studies on the digitization of schools. And she is currently observing the colorful educational scene in the corona crisis.

Such educational activists and other active teachers, who also romp under #TwitterLehrerzimmer (or #twlz), discuss the situation in which digital educational media suddenly become essential are, in order to still be able to take lessons at all, “reflective and in solidarity,” says Macgilchrist.

“You know that digital work at school is completely different than at a distance.” And they have Ideas to overcome these additional hurdles – with tasks that meet the interests of the pupils.

Two examples that the Göttingen educational researcher noticed: A biology teacher writes that she also has to do distance learning continue the curriculum. The answer from the community: Nope, do something with Corona, everyone is interested now.

Another colleague suggests a challenge against the boredom during the Easter holidays spent at home 20 “give up” fun-filled tasks, such as: paint the view from your window and put the picture for everyone on our digital pin board. Teachers learn how such a “padlet” works in a colleague's YouTube film.

The initiatives of educational activists are one of three ways for Felicitas Macgilchrist how education comes into the connected children's room, kitchen and living room during school closings.

The second option is commercial platforms, who have increasingly been making free offers since mid-March. “This is nice support so that schools have ad hoc digital materials with which they can get started right away,” says Macgilchrist. “But of course it is also targeted marketing for the future.” If you try out commercial apps now, you may stay with it after the crisis – and pay.

Praise from the major platforms, however please stay creative

The second way also includes learning platforms such as “itslearning”, “school manager” and non-commercial learning environments such as the school cloud sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam – or the “Lernraum Berlin”.

Macgilchrist sees these platforms, which offer everything from tried-and-tested chat functions to concrete teaching material, as a good basis for schools. Even if they “commit themselves to a single system” and may no longer take up the creative ideas from the Twitter teacher's room.

Our reports on school closings and homeschooling

  • How homeschooling has been going so far: school barometer – a current survey in three countries
  • Interview with a school psychologist: “The parents should not take on the teaching role”
  • Tips for learning at home: reading aloud, Youtube, experiments
  • At home with the Tagesspiegel: The new everyday life in Corona times

But is reaching for the “clouds” really mandatory for all schools and teachers? Is digital teaching only good teaching, even though experience with it and the equipment for it is not available to many teachers and students? No, says Felicitas Macgilchrist – and pleads not to mislead this third access to distance learning.

Those who “only” copy worksheets work barrier-free

Because teachers who pack an envelope with copied worksheets for their pupils and send by post, act “barrier-free”. You can also reach the children without their own laptop and WiFi. “If they still call and offer support, that's a package that children and parents can work with,” says Macgilchrist.

But no matter which way schools and teachers choose, by a lot Probably offering homeschooling from a distance even after the Easter holidays: you need a plan. It is important to enable asynchronous and independent learning.

Teachers should not expect their students to have daily 10 until 14 o'clock work for the school, but give them a weekly schedule when they can work through their “challenges” at their own pace. A regular class chat, in which everyone reports on their experiences with the new situation, can help to stay on schedule, advises Macgilchrist.