Professor Kleinknecht, were we well prepared for the corona crisis in the field of digital learning?
No, but then again, we couldn't. Nobody expected such a sudden development. But we are on the right track. Last year, the federal government approved five billion euros for the Digital Pact alone. The money is to be spent in particular on hardware equipment for general education schools. As part of the "Qualitätsoffesive Lehrerbildung", new course concepts for the use of digital media in the classroom will be developed at Leuphana this year. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project with 2.1 million euros.
What can good digital teaching look like?
In short: Set varied tasks oriented on learning goals, frequently check the learning success in a digital way and give all students feedback on their learning process and learning success. In the last step, the weaker students in particular should be given more attention. School has two important goals: To enable achievement and to reduce the variance in achievement. Neither of these can be easily achieved by digital home schooling. Thanks to the additional support of their parents, socially privileged children in particular are now probably learning the most. Children from socially weaker environments, on the other hand, could become the losers of the crisis. That is why we need committed teachers. We know from many studies how important direct contact and high-quality support is for the learning progress of these children. Video calls are therefore an important tool. Unfortunately, however, we also hear from teachers who send the children assignments once a week and leave it at that. I suspect that there is often a lack of people responsible for steering and controlling the way the children are taught at the moment. We need standards for the Corona period just as much as for normal school lessons: what is the minimum that a teacher must now do? The ministries of education should definitely determine this. Conversely, we must not leave committed teachers on their own. Good headmasters support these teachers and give them feedback. As a society we should also appreciate the teachers for their effort in times of crisis and encourage them.
Many teachers, but also parents, are now using the Internet. Which offers are good, which are bad?
The range of offers on the Internet is diverse, confusing and unfortunately also partly dubious. There are practical recommendations, e.g. of the primary school teachers' association. However, I would always check back with the teachers before blindly relying on an internet offer. There is still a lot to be done for research on effective internet offers, i.e. on informal learning by children, for example via explanatory videos. And for teachers entire lesson plans and material packages have long been available on the Internet. In addition, there is informal learning on the internet, i.e. when teachers inform themselves about learning content or have terms explained to them by means of search engines. We all do this, but we know very little about the actual effect on the quality of teaching and the learning of students.
You are doing research on digital training for teachers. Why was networking important even before Corona?
Many teacher training courses are still unique face-to-face events: You meet once, exchange ideas in the best case and most likely never see each other again. Digital advanced training courses make it possible to convey content in a time-flexible manner and help teachers to network independently of location. In this way, teachers' learning and the exchange of experiences can be intensified. In addition, long journeys are no longer necessary. Our current research project "E-LANE" in cooperation with the University of Potsdam deals with this. The project name stands for e-learning offers as well as their use and returns. There is still a gap in research here. In four partial studies we investigate how supply and use differ in different federal states. We are currently planning questionnaire surveys in Brandenburg, Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein in order to find out how digital training offers can be made more effective in terms of learning.

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  • Prof. Dr. Marc Kleinknecht