Pupils and teachers are back in their classrooms. With face-to-face teaching and no more home schooling. “But some of the digital methods will stay with us,” according to Elke Höfler, an expert in teaching methodology at the Institute of Romance Studies. The concept of “blended learning” combines online learning with face-to-face teaching.
“Teaching plans would need to be swiftly adapted, and new materials created,” explains Höfler, who researches digital learning and teaching at the University of Graz. She is campaigning for a long-overdue analysis of home schooling. “This is the only way we can learn from the current situation, think about lasting changes, and most importantly, put these into practice.”
In the post-COVID era it will be vital to have the right combination of methods, and to use whatever works best. Höfler suggests that 60 per cent face-to-face teaching and 40 per cent online might be a sensible balance for blended learning. It depends on the subject and the type of teaching required. “Languages are certainly more demanding.”
“Teaching and learning using digital media is already an integral component of the teacher training programme,” confirms Catherine Walter-Laager, Vice Rector for Studies and Teaching. Teacher training has included subject specialist requirements in this area for a long time already, she points out. Some aspects of the course content emphasise this:
for example, in introductory seminars, language teaching students develop specific materials and scenarios in both digital and analogue formats, so that they can be used for both face-to-face teaching and distance learning.
The University of Graz has also worked in collaboration with other higher education institutions in the South-East Development Network to design and implement two MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for the new teacher training programme (“PädagogInnenbildung NEU”).
Clip (German only)
Elke Höfler: "I hope online teaching doesn’t disappear completely once people have been vaccinated.
Online teaching actually has some advantages, particularly if it is not just in the form of video-conferencing. Online teaching also includes interactive exercises, and one-to-one training, where learners receive individual tuition, for example in pronunciation.
After we are vaccinated, we will once again have complete freedom to choose the way we operate. We can select the method and format that is best suited to achieving the learning objective, and ultimately ensuring the best outcome for our pupils.
We have contact, we have face-to-face teaching. We also have individual phases of learning – both online and in the classroom – whichever is the best option in each case."