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Media skills in teacher training

The IKT concept of the educational seminar in Aurich ranked among the top eight entries in the itslearning "Best use of itslearning 2012" competition. Congratulations! Here, we will present the concept used so successfully in the educational seminar.

Deputy head, Christa Ehrig, in a media-supported lesson
In a teacher training seminar in Lower Saxony for primary and secondary schools in Aurich, future teachers take targeted measures to expand their media skills. "The goal of the IKT concept is to help promote media skills among our teachers during teaching practice" explains Christa Ehrig, Deputy head of the seminar. "The situation at many of our schools is still less than satisfactory, as it is by no means guaranteed that teachers are familiar with how to use digital technology and many teachers are plagued with uncertainties" These uncertainties relate to both use in practice, as well as the legal situation.

Essential for the professional environment

The regional concept "Media skills in Lower Saxony - milestones to the goal", published by the regional government in Lower Saxony in a revised version in February 2012, explicitly calls for teachers to be trained in this area. The paper states that the educational seminars "must ensure that the trained teachers have the necessary media-based teaching skills required for their chosen profession at the end of their training.".

itslearning offers extremely effective tools to promote media skills

The educational seminar is setting an example in this field and fulfills the requirements of the concept mainly through the use of the learning platform itslearning. During the seminar, trainee teachers solve tasks, initially in the role of the pupil, in order to find out about the use of digital learning media for themselves from the point of view of the pupil. "The itslearning platform offers extremely effective tools for this", states Ms Ehrig.

ePortfolio accompanies the training

Example of an ePortfolio in itslearning
Each trainee teacher has an ePortfolio (see Fig.) to accompany their training, which they make accessible to selected colleagues and the seminar leader. The trainee teachers are familiarised with the ePortfolios in an introductory event at the start of the teaching practice. A second training session should be held after 6 – 8 months at the request of the trainees.

Increasing personal responsibility through the individual learning plan

The ePortfolio is created based on an individual learning plan (ILP). The ILP is an easy-to-use tool, enabling trainees to take on more personal responsibility in the learning process. A mentor can help the trainees in this process in an advisory role.

Extract of an individual learning plan (ILP) in itslearning: Training content for the trainees is shown clearly.
This ensures that each trainee has an overview of what stage they are at. 

Independent learning courses as an introduction to the learning platform

Each new user has the opportunity to familiarize his- or herself with the basic and most important functions of the platform for the purposes of the seminar by working through two specially created "first step" courses. "This service is still extremely popular", states Ehrig.

Formal and informal exchange via video conference

Participants in the seminar take part in a video conference in small groups once a month to answer any burning questions. This is intended to make the tools more intuitive to use and - as these video conferences take place without a seminar leader - also enable a more casual and informal exchange.

Topics include questions relating to written lesson preparation, how to handle particular stress situations or training organization. Feedback from the trainees confirms that a good mutual exchange takes place here and also helps support the teamwork element specified in the training and examination regulations.

In video conferences on a specific topic relating to itslearning online sessions, the teacher also takes part in the video conference. The itslearning classrooms provide preparation material and tasks within the "Flipped Classroom" concept (see Sample task).

Why itslearning has impressed the teachers

The usage frequency of the platform is particularly pleasing. "As teachers, we particularly like the opportunity afforded by itslearning of collecting suggestions and ideas through a simple exchange with colleagues. Functions such as the calendar, registrations, resource booking and use of the library have become as integral part of our teaching", raves Ms Ehrig. "We can book equipment and rooms, send group messages via the message system, find e-mail addresses and add links easily, manage files more effectively and have a complete overview of courses and participants."

Trainee teachers see the benefits for their education

And trainee teachers have also discovered certain benefits for themselves. The option of booking RSS feeds means that they will never miss deadlines or appointments again. The quick and easy communication with other trainees or teachers is also a major help in the various different fields to be coordinated. This means that material needed for the lesson or training can be exchanged much more easily among trainees. As there are many dates for sitting in on lectures and visits to be coordinated, the calendar function is another indispensable organisational tool.

Despite the inadequate IT facilities in some schools

Some schools in the East Friesland region still do not have interactive boards, a fast and secure Internet connection, visualisers or tablets. And the same is true of examination classes. "We have noticed, however, that an increasing number of our trainees are focusing on the increasingly indispensable use of technology in training in their final papers and are more confident in handling technology in lessons", Ehrig states. "We see this as a sign that we are on the right path".

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