Do you like a safe space?

Berlin, March 16, 2020 - All federal states have interrupted the schooling of children and young people or lifted compulsory schooling, at least until the Easter holidays.

Not only to give students the opportunity to prepare for their exams, but also to support children and adolescents in learning at home, many teachers are currently asking themselves how digital distance learning can be meaningfully structured for two weeks.

Explanatory videos, interactive exercises and self-study units are currently in demand, as are tools and apps for collaborative, collaborative work in online teams. There are many messengers that teachers can use to stay in touch with students, but which ones are safe?

The offer is confusing and it is difficult to distinguish between serious and dubious providers. In order not to endanger the safety of children and young people in the digital space, risks must be excluded.

Principles for safe digital teaching

If possible, use the learning platforms of the school authorities or the media centers in your state.The pioneer is the MEBIS information portal in Bavaria, which has published recommendations for location-independent teaching. Online courses on most school subjects are also available on the learning platform Lernraum Berlin, which is the responsibility of the Berlin Senate Department for Education, which is currently being expanded. You can also create your own courses for students in both platforms. Thanks to the templates, this can be done safely and easily. If you have any questions, please contact the support of the school authority or use the help pages in the portals.

If your school allows this, use learning management systems (LMS) such as Moodle: If you work at a school on whose server an LMS such as Moodle is available, use this. In LMS you can create courses, publish content such as texts, but also learning videos, create interactive tasks and evaluate solutions. Alternatively, you can also use the Padlets tool to create digital pinboards and watch lists.

Note data protection: When using learning apps or web portals and offers, do not carelessly ignore concerns about data protection law. Check whether personal data such as e-mail address, address or telephone number are requested or transmitted to third parties.

Advertising freedom:The ban on advertising also applies to your digital distance learning. Do not recommend or use any commercial apps or web portals that advertise products in addition to their learning opportunities. This also applies to video portals such as YouTube or Vimeo.

In - purchases:Find out about the range of services offered by the learning apps and web portals. Many supposedly free offers reveal themselves as a cost trap because certain functions can only be used when payments are made.

Recommendations of the DsiN project DigiBitS - digital education meets school

The DsiN project DigiBitS - digital education meets school provides you with a pool of materials. Browse there for teaching materials, recommendations for tools and apps as well as link tips from many different providers. The material pool can be used free of charge and is accessible to everyone - even without registration.

To make your search easier, here is a small selection of apps:

Self-learning apps for the classroom: The Anton app offers a large number of applications for German, mathematics, specialist knowledge and music. There are tasks for grades 1-6. The exercises are supplemented by mini-games as a reward.

With learning snacks, short “bits of knowledge” can be created and tried out. The content is presented in a kind of chat format as a question-and-answer game.

Collaborative work:School always means learning together and working in teams. This also works online. You can, for example, instruct a group of students to write a short story together in an Etherpad. Etherpads are also suitable for transmitting tasks that students can work on together in the same document. Secure and data protection compliant providers are, for example, ZUMpad or Cryptpad. The latter can even be encrypted with a password so that they cannot be viewed by outsiders. Hackmd.io is also another way to work collaboratively. After registering free of charge, you can also comment on and rate entries by students there.

Messenger:To communicate with parents or students in a data protection-compliant, free and encrypted manner, use messengers designed for schools, such as schul.cloud or Schoolfox.

Video conferencing: To teach students by video, you can use Skype, but also other providers such as jitsi. With JitsiMeet you can easily and quickly conduct a video conference with several participants. It is not necessary to open an account here.

Whichever learning platform and which tools you use: Plan in advance and communicate to students and parents with which questions, methods and rules the apps or web portals should be used and how the results will be used again later in school. Formulate clear expectations for parents, children and young people. Also, make suggestions about time schedules for home study. You should also consider whether you want to deepen or repeat the knowledge you have learned with the applications, or whether you want to introduce a topic. In this way, the students get a concrete goal perspective.