e-Teaching: Digital teaching on the pulse of time

The pandemic has provided a digitization push in schools and universities. e-Teaching Skills are now essential. We explain what this means and look at the opportunities offered by digital teaching.

Although it is said that every crisis also contains opportunities, this is difficult to believe in the current situation. Too much trouble and suffering has resulted from the Covid 19 pandemic. From an e-learning perspective, however, there is a small ray of hope: Distance learning and e-teaching have finally arrived in our education system. As an e-learning provider, we are of course pleased about this, but we would have liked the discourse about these promising forms of teaching/learning to take place even without a pandemic. Whatever the case, as a society we must now make the most of it, seize the opportunities of digital teaching and learning, and avoid time-honored mistakes. For example, one such mistake would be to use distance learning and e-teaching interchangeably. While distance learning primarily alludes to organizational aspects and emphasizes the learner level, e-teaching is about didactics and the side of the teachers. This is the page we want to focus on today. In the following, we address ways in which digital teaching can be anchored in everyday education and elaborate on opportunities. First and foremost, however, we turn our attention to the basis of digital teaching: e-didactics.

e-didactics as the basis of e-teaching

Didactics is the science of teaching and learning. To put it bluntly, didactics deals with answers to the question: How can teaching and learning be successful and sustainable? Educational processes in schools and universities all take place against a corresponding didactic background. Because teaching and learning work differently in the digital space, e-didactics has established itself as a discipline in its own right. This is about how teaching and learning succeed with the help of digital media. All digital education and training processes need an e-didactic foundation if they are to be successful. So much for the theory. In practice, this means that e-teaching, i.e. the concrete implementation of digital teaching, takes place in the area of tension between didactics and technology. This sequence is very important: First, didactic questions must be clarified and teaching/learning objectives must be defined. Based on this, the teaching project is then implemented with the help of digital media.

The "e" in e-Teaching

That digital media will be used in e-teaching is clear. However, the concrete form this deployment takes varies from case to case. As mentioned above, didactic considerations play a significant role in determining which media should be used and how. Depending on whether information is to be presented and conveyed or whether the collaboration of the learners is the focus of the teaching/learning offer, the media used differ. The professionals at e-teaching .org define three basic topics for the use of digital media in e-teaching: preparation, distribution, and communication and collaboration. The term “preparation” refers to the various ways in which content can be presented. In e-teaching, teachers have a broad and differentiated range of different media types at their disposal to prepare teaching/learning content. This ranges from the presentation in pure text form to the use of images and videos to the creation of web-based training. The “Distribution” point is about how to make the content available to learners. Again, teachers have different options. For example, content can be delivered via a shared workspace (for example, Office 365 or Google Workspace) or a dedicated learning management system, such as Moodle. It would also be conceivable to integrate gamification elements such as the use of a quiz, with which the learners work through the content in a playful manner. The area of “communication and collaboration” includes possibilities for exchange and collaboration at a distance. The decisive factor here is whether these processes should take place synchronously or asynchronously. For synchronous communication, teachers can make use of the now well-known video conferencing tools (for example Zoom or Microsoft Teams) or chat applications. Asynchronous communication can take place by mail or with the help of specially set up forums (for example, within the framework of the LMS used). Collaborative work can be done via the shared workspaces already mentioned, but also via digital whiteboards such as Miro.

The opportunities of digital teaching

From an e-learning perspective, one thing is clear: e-teaching will not and should not disappear with the end of the pandemic. The options listed should not be seen as a stopgap in a pandemic, but are essential opportunities to make lasting positive change in the education system. Digital teaching brings with it numerous opportunities to package content in a comprehensible and vivid way. The use of different media formats can increase both the motivation of learners and the quality of teaching. In addition, new target groups are addressed through digital teaching/learning offerings. Universities that offer e-teaching and digitize entire curricula are thus addressing all those who cannot attend a traditional course of study due to work or geographical distance. Another point that needs to be made here: In most cases, asynchronous e-teaching can be prepared multilingually without any problems and work across language borders.

Blended Learning: The Best of Both Worlds

However, it is also clear that e-Teaching is still in its infancy and will only develop its full potential over the course of the next few years. Nevertheless, teachers and learners alike have already tasted blood and would like to see the partial integration of digital teaching into educational processes. Numerous schools and universities are already responding to this demand by adopting a blended learning approach that combines professional e-teaching with the benefits of face-to-face teaching. In blended learning, digital potentials are used where it makes sense. However, teachers and learners still come together physically at regular intervals. An example: learners receive new inputs in a webinar, from which they then individually make seminar papers, presentations or discussion contributions. The results are then not merely uploaded, but discussed and further spun out in the plenary session during the next attendance unit.

Read more about the pros and cons of blended learning as well as best practices in the exciting article by Stefanie Quade, who is an instructor and has successfully implemented a blended learning-based course.

We at skillbest are also happy to answer your questions on e-learning topics. We are looking forward to your message!