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author's profile photo Christiane Bauer

Learning in times of Corona and Homeschooling

I don't know how you feel about the current situation around learning?

Due to COVID-19 most Schools and Universities in Germany are closed and this impacts the life of many of us in many different ways.

For me as the SAP Young Thinkers program lead it means lots of opportunities to support. Gaps and needs becoming more obvious then ever but I'm sure for many of you it means something very different.

I would be happy to start an exchange around this topic. Curious to read your thoughts.

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  • Jan 21 at 10:01 AM

    I left school and university quite a few years ago, so I don't quite qualify for SAP Young Thinkers.

    My daughter finished a degree that was entirely distance learning (except for a couple of workshops). She then enrolled in another degree - on premise - and... corona came along. She copes fine with it, as she's used to it, but many students have dropped out, and the professors/lecturers sometimes struggle.

    My other daughter is studying pharmaceutical engineering, and so has mandatory laboratory work. To do this, the college received dispensation, requiring students to either wearing medical masks provided by the college at $5 a day, or go get tested twice a week (free). Her partner opted for the former... and now has to quarantine. Fortunately the lab assistants and professor (and the other students) are working hard to support my daughter so she can finish the assignment.

    They have to their work in shifts - either 7am to 1:30pm or 1:30pm to 7:30pm to keep numbers down. When she gets home - she sleeps for a couple of hours! Thankfully, today is her last day on site.

    So where we live, life continues and studying continues - with some difficulty. Pre-college schools remain open.

    • Jan 22 at 09:56 PM

      Hi Matthew,

      thanks a lot for sharing insights of your daughters, happy to read they are handling the situation so well1

  • Jan 22 at 12:55 PM

    I also am quite a few years away from being a young thinker. My son has graduated college, and his schooling wasn't effected by COVID.

    My niece is still in college. She just finished her last teacher's test in Florida. However, last semester and this semester, she has been doing her internship and substitute teaching. Some of the schools are doing virtual learning. She is involved with one of those. She really would rather it be in person. Some of the schools are still in person learning. She loves that. She feels she connects with the students better.

    Now for herself, she is struggling with some of her virtual college courses. Yes, it's a bit strange - her college is virtual but not all high schools are. Some of the professors are simply horrible with virtual teaching. They've never done it, and are very poor at communication. For example, she keeps track of her grades - thank goodness - one day she went from an A to barely passing. Really? She e-mailed her professor, she said she just hadn't put all her grades in yet. After stressing Sydney went back up to an A (4.0 or excellent).

    So it's a bit crazy. And it's a mixture of who can teach remotely and who never has had to teach. And never wants to teach remotely again.

    • Jan 22 at 09:58 PM

      Hi Michelle,

      thanks for sharing!

      I believe Young Thinking is not a matter of age, it's an attitude and from what I can read I bet you are a Young Thinker :-)

      Say hello to your niece I'm sure she will be a wonderful teacher - in my view staying connected is one fundamental piece of making up a good teacher.

    • Jan 23 at 06:21 AM

      The first daughter of mine is also at studying to be a teacher (primary). She starts her practical Monday.

      I do know people who are younger than me who aren't as young in thinking. You know, twenty pushing ninety...

  • Jan 26 at 06:18 PM

    I have so much to say on this subject! :)

    As a parent of 11-yo boy who is in 6th grade of virtual school, this has been a very rough year. Our schools in North Carolina first opened remotely but then went to in-person for a few weeks. But after the holidays, we are back to remote. Many teachers seem to be struggling with making their program work online and the kids not paying attention in class. The same goes for parents. There are many distractions at home and we also need to do our job while making sure the kid is not late for class because he's playing with the cat. And this must be much worse for the parents of younger children.

    As a developer, sadly, I also see many failures and missed opportunities when it comes to technology. The portal our schools are using where the kids grades, attendance, etc. are stored looks like something from the 1990s. But even that is not updated consistently. Also, the learning materials and homework are all stored in Google Classroom and it's not integrated with that portal at all. So I check my kid's grade in one place and then have to ask him to show me what was the actual test.

    Also I'm very disappointed so far by limited functionality Google Classroom provides for the students. For example, my kid has 6-7 different teachers, each in their own class. But there is no central place to see all his homework from all the classes. I'm pretty sure it's feasible but after searching, I came to conclusion that Google only focuses on the teacher-side development. There isn't even a place to submit a suggestion for the student-facing part.

    Finally, as an SAP Developer, I see many eerie similarities with our dear enterprise software world. :)

    • Some teachers running "shadow IT" with their own apps / mini-sites (parent's nightmare)
    • Weak UI for students (see above), we have no shortage of that in SAP world (still)
    • Lack of integration (not using Google APIs to integrate grade info with homework details)
    • No agreement among different units on the "best practice". Even after almost a year, there is a lot of disconnect between the school board, school management, and teachers.
  • Jan 28 at 10:17 AM

    Thanks for sharing everyone! Such a great comparison with our world Jelena Perfiljeva ;-)

    I don´t have kids myself, but a best friend who is a teacher and we talk a lot about the situation at schools here in Germany. She is fortunate to work at a rather modern school who went fast to remote teaching. They decided to use Zoom in addition to the school platform iSurf. That seems to be valuable as iSurf has major problems even with server capacity so that it shuts down if too many video conferences are stared like at the beginning of this year. I have not heard about Google Classroom in Germany.

    Something that everyone seems to struggle with, besides the IT and infrastructure problems, is that the schooling concepts of politics change that often. At least here in Germany. Changing from remote to in-person, to splitting classes, to no grades, to mandatory exams. My friend hat to write letters every 1 -2 weeks to her kids and parents explaining the new procedures and change her learning concepts over and over again. There are no personal resources for everyone to take care of that organization and it is left to the teachers to clarify on individual levels with their students. So I saw my friend working 80 hour weeks and more, taking calls at 9 pm and emailing with parents all Sunday.

    I guess it is the people who go the extra miles these days that keep education alive. The teachers giving all their energy not to loose students, the parents being supportive to their kids even more, the kids who manage to stay curious. Yet, not everyone has the resources to offer that energy for the extra mile so it is to hope that lock downs and vaccines and other measures take its course soon to set education back in place.

    In the meantime, let´s hope that politics and schools realize the lack of digitization and find speed in changing this as well as companies rise to fill current deficites and improve the IT offerings.

    • Feb 03 at 10:13 AM

      I just wanted to share that there is a very nice tool for group communication called Matrix. It's a FOSS, decentralized and privacy-respecting chat protocol, and there are several clients (applications) that use Matrix in the background.

      I believe the most extended one is Element, and you can try it out here:

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