Weisendorf - On January 11, the second lockdown began in Bavaria, and with it homeschooling at Weisendorf Elementary School. And with it, once again, the familiar learning environment "school" fell away almost completely for the students of the Weisendorf school. The school closures decided upon with the new lockdown show that distance and hybrid teaching are indispensable instruments for maintaining school operations. However, the Corona crisis also reveals that access to digital media is not sufficiently available everywhere. For distance and hybrid learning, students need access to a PC or laptop. In order to provide a contribution of support here, eleven end devices were donated in Weisendorf. But this is not the case everywhere in Bavaria, knows Simone Fleischmann, President of the Bavarian Teachers' Association (BLLV). She says not every child in Bavaria who needs a terminal already has one. There are many reasons for this. For one thing, the money from the Digital Pact's funding pot is not enough to provide all children with a loaner device. For another, many municipalities and schools throughout Germany cannot afford to maintain the additional devices.
Therefore, the school management and Meike Roberts, head of the parents' council as well as the development association for open youth work, were pleased to receive a welcome donation of eleven terminal devices from the companies Neumüller Elektronik, bITma Solutions and HSM Stahl und Metallhandel GmbH. Independent learning on the computer at home, on the other hand, has already become part of everyday life for our elementary school students. They meet via Cisco Webex meetings, access materials in the Padlet, plan group work in online lessons and research specific topics on the Internet, the principal told us.
"One of the great challenges in distance learning is to reach a heterogeneous student and parent body in a variety of ways so that each child receives optimal individual attention," said Principal Petra Pausch. Thus, digitization offers many opportunities for teachers to redesign their lessons, become more creative and organize themselves more efficiently.
The school administration in Weisendorf has also prepared for this and provides a variety of tools. For example, the direct exchange of printed worksheets, which are available for personal pickup in the auditorium, but also the postal route, fax or scan and collective e-mails via ESIS are available. In addition, there is a parent-student information system, individual mails to parents, the weekly schedule in paper form via mail or "Padlet" a digital bulletin board where texts, pictures, videos, links, voice recordings, screen recordings and drawings can be stored. Various templates are provided to get started in collaborative work. For example, the app makes it possible to create digital pinboards and start live chats. Every change from different computers can be followed live, so that the content is always up to date. A class can work on a pinboard simultaneously, fill it with content, comment on the entries and thus discuss them in real time. The possibilities for location-independent collaboration in real time give rise to completely new and diverse applications for teaching. Collecting, processing and comparing content in particular is simplified.
For example, there are subject-specific Padlets for religious education, handicrafts and design or sports, downloaded learning videos, self-created explanatory videos, class meetings, parent meetings via the Web or class group meetings and the personal one-on-one phone call with the teacher. "Padlet" is a "Swiss army knife for collaboration" and can be used in many ways in the classroom and beyond. The most important thing for me is that the focus here is on the activity of the learners, the principal explains.
However, some of these tools are only feasible with a tablet or laptop. After querying the need for digital end devices among the parents, the school turned to the material expenses provider, the market town of Weisendorf, to the government of Middle Franconia. The devices were immediately approved and ordered. Since the Weisendorfer school, were not the only users and interested parties was informed that the delivery of eleven tablets would take several weeks.
Uwe Fischer, Managing Director of Neumüller Elektronik and father of a school-age daughter as well as sponsor of the third grade, also learned of the long delivery time. He solicited support from friends and, in addition to Neumüller Elektronik, the companies bITma Solutions and HSM Stahl und Metallhandel GmbH also contributed laptops. Bernd Maier, managing director of bITma Solutions GmbH, and Jonas Neudecker, a former student and current trainee for IT and system administration at bITma solutions GmbH in Erlangen, spent a great deal of time equipping eleven end devices for school use. With the donation, the companies Neumüller Elektronik, bITma Solutions and HMS Stahl want to make a contribution to ensuring that students have enough hardware to participate well-equipped in distance learning. "The digitalization of schools and the digital competence that goes with it is an important factor for the future of our children, and not just in Corona times," says Uwe Fischer. The commercial manager of bITma solutions GmbH, Tina Maier pointed out that equipment is often scrapped because the connections to contacts and buyers are missing.
The system supervisor of the Weisendorf elementary school Luise Pöverlein installed the necessary programs. When face-to-face classes begin again in the Weisendorf student body, these devices will be donated to the support association for open youth work, in particular the lunchtime supervision. In the meantime, they will bridge the waiting period for the tablets officially subsidized by the government and be available to families or children without a terminal device.
"Together with the booster club, we very much welcome this donation and thank the energetic companies. They now enable the entire student body to access digital tools in distance learning," said the principal, who is delighted with the entire teaching staff.
People in the picture (from left to right): Uwe Fischer, Principal Petra Pausch, Luise Pöverlein, Meike Roberts, Jonas Neudecker and Tina Maier.