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Better on film

Whether it's in German or physics, videos and other digital tools are not only adding variation to everyday teaching but also producing great successes in learning across many school subjects. The Centre for Teacher Training (ZfL) at Kiel University is investigating how this works.

Standbild eines Lehrvideos
© Zentrum für Lehrerbildung (ZfL)

The Centre for Teacher Training (ZfL) runs a wide range of training courses that do not come with ECTS credit points but do convey skills that can be really valuable in normal classroom situations and often in virtual classrooms, too. The special aspect here is that the interdisciplinary courses are topic-specific, school-based and practical – and have been available not just with digital content but also in digital format since the summer semester 2020. It is hardly a surprise that these extracurricular courses and workshops are usually in very high demand. Interest in the training sessions, which are currently run exclusively online, has been uninterrupted, including this winter semester. “Together with our lecturers, we have been able to convert a large number of our courses into digital formats and also expand our programme to include more courses,” said Dr Maike Martensen, who is responsible for the extracurricular courses alongside coordinator Melanie Korn. Since the first “corona semester” online courses have formed a third “extra training component” at the ZfL, alongside workshops and certification courses, and these will be retained and evaluated.

Creating learning videos, among other things, is a helpful tool for covering the requirements of school teaching. This applies both in the classroom and in digital teaching, said educational scientist Jessica Hinrichsen, who recently presented an online workshop on creating and using videos at schools in collaboration with her colleague at the ZfL, Claudia Wagner. She became familiar with this technology seven years ago as a student teacher. At Gemeinschaftsschule Schönberg (Schönberg community school), where she and Claudia Wagner work, she is always bringing images to life and putting smiles on many faces. “It actually works really well as long as you don't overdo it,” reported Jessica Hinrichsen, who offered a very broad range of creative opportunities to participants of the course she ran together with her colleague.

Personally she likes working with screencasts of her own screen. These are recordings, for example, of a presentation or a handwritten account that can then be played as a film. The process is similar to that of stop motion films, which create the illusion of movement by stringing together a series of static images. Social connections can be illustrated perfectly in this way, without violating privacy policies or personal rights, by using Playmobil or other toy figures to portray the main characters. According to Jessica Hinrichsen, this process also works exceptionally well to illustrate reaction mechanisms in chemistry lessons. It is also sometimes used by school children in maths lessons, for instance, when the method for solving a tricky task is filmed step by step or when various approaches to dealing with a task are demonstrated in film.

Won't that involve an incredible amount of work? Wagner and Hinrichsen are asked this ever more frequently. The very easy to use software makes it all very simple. It also depends on the type of video. For instance, if the subject being filmed does not change, such as mathematical equations, readings or chemical reactions, the videos can be used over and over again. “In this case it is worth the effort,” said Jessica Hinrichsen. In their everyday school life both teachers have definitely observed this type of digital element becoming increasingly important and the interest among colleagues is clearly growing. For good reason, said Jessica Hinrichsen, as “you can learn an incredible amount from videos”.

Author: Martin Geist