Is symbiosis distance learning worthwhile

Distance learning in intermediate level

I made my homework for the next week available on Fridays. On Mondays there was a mandatory video chat in small groups of five to six students each, so that an overview, good communication and personal relationship were maintained. After a bit of small talk about how they and their families would feel with the lockdown, we started by reciting a text by John Maynard. This was followed by an explanation of the tasks.

I limited myself to mathematics, German and geography. To explain an arithmetic operation I used the traditional blackboard and chalk, we read a German text in distributed roles "from the sheet" with the function "share screen" and the geography lectures were held using a presentation program that was visible to all. After an hour it was the turn of the next group with the same program. Every Wednesday, the students had the opportunity to have an individual video chat with me after making an appointment. Here they could ask questions about the tasks, present interim results of their work and receive brief feedback from me. In addition, it was also possible to have one-on-one small talk. About a third of the class took advantage of this opportunity. On the remaining days, I was always available in the mornings by e-mail or class chat for content-related questions. Tasks and work products were posted or processed together via the cloud, handwritten notes or pictures were sent by photo. Last but not least, some good offers from the Internet offered valuable assistance, and we also tried YouTube explanatory videos. A new creative task has emerged from this: "Make an explanatory video yourself on a topic of your choice!"

It was amazing how naturally the students dealt with the extraordinary school situation and how self-reliantly most of them were able to organize and use their working hours sensibly after a short time. The control of the work and the feedback from me worked almost better than in face-to-face classes due to the small groups and individual support. One student was not allowed to participate on the part of the parents and was provided with work orders via email attachment, the good old telephone helped here.

The fact that I had been creating my teaching materials almost exclusively on the computer for years and was now able to draw on all the resources with a few clicks made a significant contribution to relieving workload. In addition, it was even possible to take care of the students in a relatively differentiated manner according to their perception and performance.

All in all, it was a very educational experience for both the children and me: How do you cultivate relationships with other people with the help of technology, how do you use electronic communication and work equipment sensibly? Imagine if this lockdown had happened 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. The feedback from parents was surprisingly positive. And to be honest - I had less stress and more time for the family and myself during these weeks ... Nevertheless, everyone experienced that there is no substitute for direct, personal contact and I am glad to welcome the students back to face-to-face classes soon allowed to.

About the author: Martin Carle has been a class and high school teacher in Germany and Switzerland for many years. In addition, he conducts advanced training for class teachers and colleges. Literature: "Practical Media Studies in Middle Schools"