"Quo vadis, Corona Distance Learning?"

Why online teaching must finally become the standard in our schools

Before the start of school in Bavaria, with the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the possibility that the intended regular operation as attendance lessons could only take place for a short time is becoming more and more important. This concern of politics, teaching staff, parents and trainees is also shared by digital expert Michael Pickhardt. His demand: "We need a uniform and technically secure concept for distance learning that is mandatory, applies to everyone - and is finally used as a standard building block in the course of digitizing our school facilities.

Digital school: There is little orientation, much chaos and still inequality

From the experiences of the past school year we have learned that the difficulties and fears of contact with online teaching are on different levels. "You can't simply arrange distance learning that is to take place online," explains Michael Pickhardt: "Because not everyone has a computer at home. Beyond this inequality, which has social reasons as well as effects, not every school has a good Internet connection either".

The digital expert appeals to those with political responsibility: "Please do your homework at last! Reflect in schools what has long been part of everyday digital life! Because if this were the case, the Corona problem would not be a problem from the point of view of distance learning. This is not a new challenge, but has simply been pushed away in recent years! He demands: "We have to solve the Babylonian mess of technical tools that are in use - Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Schoolfox et cetera - and that have a very different efficiency-benefit echo. There are many parents with school-age children working in my company, and they tell me here about a completely different state of schools. There are digital offerings, there they try things out, but not here - depending on their mood, motivation and level of knowledge.

Michael Pickhardt, who has been involved in security in telecommunications technology for decades, emphasizes another aspect here that is often ignored: "Many of these conference systems that are now being rapidly deployed harbor a high degree of IT security risks, for example, if the data that arises is not stored on a German server but somewhere in the world - without knowing who has access to it and what happens to this data. Who else is watching my video conference? This cannot and should not be a good feeling for anyone. Only those who feel safe and secure will take the digital path!

Distanzunterricht: Er sollte ein digitales Leuchtturmprojekt an unseren Schulen sein

The scenarios presented by politicians at the start of school in 2020/2021 on the possibility of distance learning are not sufficient for Michael Pickhardt: "Distance learning plays a secondary role, for example, in the Bavarian "three-stage plan" as information for parents and guardians. A look at the framework concept for distance learning with its seven points, which is also presented, is of limited help here. This can quickly turn into a catastrophe for parents, teachers and students if schools are not allowed to offer face-to-face lessons from one day to the next and have to function online". His conclusion: "One does not really seem to dare to approach distance learning in its complexity. On the other hand, there is a need to deal with it intensively.

"The mobile "home office", which has long been popular in the private sector, will also be a useful addition to classroom instruction in schools. We need a uniform and technically secure concept for the training and feasibility of distance learning that is mandatory for everyone - and will finally be used as a standard component in the digitization of our school facilities. In the virtual classroom - whether it is a live demonstration by experts, a joint language lesson with a class in Bordeaux or an interactive tour of the Coliseum - teachers, parents and students can all take part and be inspired so that digitization is actively lived. This is not a Corona emergency nail, it should be the school of today. But it will probably only be the school of tomorrow, because our politicians slept through it yesterday," summarizes Michael Pickhardt.

Future Germany: Education, training and knowledge are our most important resources

Failure to take advantage of the opportunities offered by online schooling is tearing down huge gaps in the knowledge transfer and education of our next generations. Michael Pickhardt: "Many people still talk about our world and the digital world as if it were outside of us. But we live in a single world - and that has long since become digital. It is overdue that we not only look to the USA or China, but above all use the digital know-how that has long been available in Germany to secure the future know-how of our country. Because our most important resources are education, training and knowledge. To buy only notebooks is not a strategy - but a sign of helplessness. We have no time to lose here!