AndrianDinter, chemistry teacher at the StudyMind, talks about the advantages of digital teaching and the atmosphere in the virtual classroom in times of Corona.
The Federal Council decided that all schools will be closed due to the coronavirus and switched to distance learning. Did it all have to happen so quickly?
AndrianDinter: I thought that was great. It was a clear announcement and teachers are good at dealing with clarity. The question of the need for digital teaching was suddenly blown away. Otherwise this discussion would have continued for years. We formed a task force from the StudyMindand we were able to launch a website that supports teachers with distance learning.
The coronavirus really fueled the discussion about digitization.
So, you are happy that the schools were “forced” to switch over?
I would have liked to have had less of a priority. The transition should have been more through conviction. But yes: I’m basically happy about it. The coronavirus really fueled the discussion about digitization.
AndrianDinter hasbeen A-Level chemistry tutorat the StudyMindfor many years. How does a typical digital chemistry lesson work for him?
We primarily work with Microsoft 365, i.e., with Microsoft Teams for communication and Microsoft One Note for data storage. I usually start with a video conference. I ask everyone how they are and let them arrive. Most are on time; others are late even in digital classes. The behavior of the students does not change when you switch from the analog to the digital world. Next, we take a look at the learning objectives together, and then I often start with a brief introduction to a particular topic. I record anything that lasts longer than five minutes as a video beforehand. Even when I was teaching in the real classroom, I liked to use the “flipped classroom” model. I also integrate short videos into my lessons,
How does «flipped classroom» work?
Basically, the aim is for the students to prepare the lesson in a strongly structured manner that I have specified before the actual lesson. In the class itself, we then mainly discuss your questions.
Where do you see the advantages of this method?
The “flipped classroom” enables the students to prepare individually for which they can give themselves as much time as they need. I am not a fan of classic frontal teaching.
Does digital teaching also enable more individualized learning?
However, you often hear that digital lessons are especially suitable for strong students, but that weaker students would fall further behind. This may apply to the primary level, where direct addressing is very important. After that, in my opinion, it is more the case that strong and weak students move towards one another, precisely thanks to the more individual learning opportunities.
How do you experience the mood of the students in the digital classroom?
I have a feeling that they think it’s just fine. But that can also be due to the novelty effect. In my environment I see that they treat their teachers graciously because they know that most of them have never taught in this way.
And what causes problems for the students?
The most difficult thing for them is that their teachers use different platforms for data storage. The spectrum ranges from One Note to Moodle and Dropbox to emails. This is confusing for the students. However, we have freedom of teaching and methods so that you cannot tell teachers which platform they should use.
What is the mood like among the teachers when it comes to digital lessons?
Amazingly positive, I’ve only heard a few negative reactions. I think this has to do with the fact that they don’t have to question the need for the form of teaching and that they can be creative. For many, the change means a lot more work at first, which can be difficult. However, this is the case at the beginning of every new form of teaching and I am convinced that over time you will also see that teaching with digital means has a lot of positive effects and can also be time-saving in the long term.
What does not work in digital lessons, what is possible in person in lessons?
If someone is inattentive in the real classroom, I can speak to them directly and “bring them back”. This possibility is completely eliminated in the digital classroom – it is the total loss of control. But I’m also aware of this in real life. To counteract this, I try to pick up the students in real and digital classrooms with games and quizzes and to check whether they have understood the learning content.
How will (digital) teaching develop in times after Corona?
Are all teachers waiting for it to continue exactly the same as before? Or do they all want to teach digitally all at once? That would be the two extremes. I believe and hope that there will be a mixed form – «blended learning». I very much hope that we will use more digital media in the classroom in the future.
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