Are the students happy at Ann Arbor

Digital education: Learnings from distance learning in times of Corona


by Annemieke Akkermans

published on 01/13/2021

The corona pandemic has turned everyday school life and learning at school upside down. For a year now, lessons can no longer take place as we were used to for decades. The schools are currently back in a mode of alternating and distance teaching. What are the lessons learned from this time? A plea from the teacher Annemieke Akkermanns that after the pandemic we will not return to everyday school life as we did before the Corona period.

The Corona traffic light for Berlin schools is red. From this week onwards, the schools will not run in regular operation either, instead they offer either distance or step-by-step alternation lessons - that is, a mixture of face-to-face teaching and school-guided learning from home is required again. Due to the school closings in spring 2020, the deficits of learning platforms and video conference tools as well as deficiencies in data protection have been and are currently being discussed in many places in Germany. Students and teachers flocked to Zoom, Meet and BigBlueButton. In Germany, where digitization is often slow, the media concept, server capacity, sufficient WLAN, digital end devices and functional learning platforms are still not part of the standard repertoire in schools. Nevertheless, despite the partially lacking framework conditions, some teachers have used the window of opportunity to try out new ideas, pedagogical concepts for learning and teaching using digital media or new digital tools in schools and lessons.

For the pupils, the sometimes lack of presence of the teachers gave them the freedom to learn independently and independently at their own learning pace. Some students found it difficult to do so and went underground. For some students, self-directed learning in distance learning was often a revelation, and they really blossomed. We could also observe these dynamics at our school. A survey carried out at our school before the summer holidays with a view to the first phase of distance learning showed that many students enjoyed the new freedom of action. They appreciated being able to decide for themselves which tasks they wanted to devote themselves to and when.
It is easy to understand that the students liked the newly gained scope for autonomy. That piqued my curiosity: How did other teachers feel, had they had similar experiences? So I decided to post a quick poll in education groups on Facebook. I addressed my survey to international teachers (Global Educator Collective, 129,000 members) as well as to German teachers (digital teaching in schools, 19,000 members). At the same time, I asked the same question in the teacher's room on Twitter: "Did you ever have students in distance lessons who were able to learn better online at the moment?"