With the arrival of the pandemic to Colombia, in the Deutsche Schule Medellin we analysed the situation and adapted our pedagogical model to a new reality. According to Álvaro Monroy, Head of the Information Technology (IT) department and Coordinator of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), “For some time now we have been preparing a model based on information technology.” This way teachers received regular training so they could incorporate new technologies in the classroom, and the school technology staff adapted our technological infrastructure to the new conditions. Undoubtedly, this allowed a rapid development in the new ways to approach education. Once the decision was made to teach virtually, both Álvaro and the teacher training team led by Manuela Vogelgesang began a planning process that permitted classes to go ahead without any setbacks.
Unmistakably, the new conditions meant an acceleration in the process of educational innovation. “In a normal environment, I believe that the achievements that we have reached this year would have taken at least three years,” expressed Manuela.
During these months, concepts such as responsibility, time management, autonomy and differentiation were reinforced. The willingness to change has been fundamental in achieving this. “We have seen that we can do things differently, adjusting processes to always offer the best quality of education,” says Anke Käding, Head of the school. The challenge now is to think of a hybrid model of education that actually allows for students who must stay at home for whatever reason, to still participate in class.
“We have seen that we can do things differently, adjusting processes to always offer the best quality of education.”
Remote working developed the technological skills of all the educational community. Mobile phones and computers ceased to be tools only used for social media and became productive tools. Manuela Vogelgesang says that the students learnt how to use software that will not only be useful for school but will also serve them in future at university or in a work environment. In addition, students shifted from being receptors to digital creators.
One of the most important skills “We learnt to establish our limits”, says Anke Käding. “In this context it was easy for employees to keep working after hours or students to keep sending messages even when classes had finished,” says the Head. With time everyone began to manage their time more effectively.
With distance, technology and communication processes have facilitated collaborative work, one of the pillars of our teaching model. The project-based learning promoted joint creation. It was also important to find a balance between individual and teamwork. In addition, it was important to generate spaces for social contact, as they are fundamental in childhood and adolescence.
Even though classes took place synchronously, many of the processes were fully dependent on independent work. “Gradually, all the students learnt to make the most of the technological tools,” explains Mrs. Käding. Thanks to autonomy, teachers have also developed new methodologies, which allow for much more creative work.
Remote processes allowed teachers to dedicate more time to each student according to their needs. Each student progresses differently, and autonomy and independence gave the possibility for each one to follow their own path. Therefore, according to Mrs. Vogelgesang, it is now up to the students themselves to decide how they want to learn and in what format they want to submit their work.