Ms. Schlenker has already familiarized herself with the new technology, which has been available in nine classrooms since the beginning of the school year, following an idea by Mr. Birnbaum, the colleague responsible for modern equipment. Photo: TGK
Konigstein (kw/hhf) – With the tablet in her hand, Mrs. Schlenker prepares her learning group for the topic of today’s lesson. And as if by magic, without any cable connection, a presentation appears simultaneously on the screen next to her, showing what has just been said in writing. The students are fascinated; such a high level of media competence among teachers attracts attention and recognition. When Ms. Schlenker later shows a short instructional video and finally uses an app to solicit the students’ ideas and elegantly visualize them, the first impression is finally confirmed: multimedia-supported instruction is well received by the learners. The large-scale visualization and the high level of participation ensure lessons that stick.
Nine classrooms equipped
The technical equipment that makes this multimedia learning experience possible is completely new at Taunusgymnasium. The starting point for this was a generous donation from a benefactor – who does not wish to be named – and the booster club. The donation of 13.000 euros should benefit the quality of teaching at Taunusgymnasium. And because multimedia, when used wisely, can make for enthusiastic lessons and is also in line with the demand for digitization of the school, Taunusgymnasium decided to introduce new presentation media in some classrooms.
Since as many students as possible should be able to benefit from the new technology, it was decided to use a combination of modern laser beamers and AppleTV streaming boxes, based on an idea from Mr. Birnbaum. This makes wireless presentations, as Ms. Schlenker uses them in her classes, effortless. The AppleTV device creates a wireless network that transmits content to the projector in real time. A wired connection to the beamer is also possible. Whether tablet, notebook or even smartphone – most devices that a teacher brings to class can be connected to the laser beamer. A special projection whiteboard, on which you can not only project but also write with whiteboard markers, provides a clear image that can be seen all the way to the last rows.
The main advantage of the combination of beamer, AppleTV and whiteboard compared to the otherwise very common smartboards: it costs only about one fifth. The donation enabled nine rooms to be equipped instead of two. In the first step, a number of upper school classrooms and several eighth and ninth grade classrooms benefited from the new equipment. In the long term, the plan is to upgrade all classrooms with the multimedia solution. Mrs. Schlenker would have nothing against it – and her students would be enthusiastic as well.
Faster than the state of Hesse
Perhaps the school can then “in the long term” also count on money from the state of Hesse, which thanks to the donation they are now easily half a year ahead of. At least Minister of Education Lorz has already developed a plan for obtaining federal funding: “In order to further improve digitally supported teaching and learning in schools and to lend further momentum to the efforts made to date, Hesse has developed its own state program, ‘Digital School Hessen,’ building on the ‘DigitalPakt Schule’ between the federal and state governments. This program bundles measures for pedagogical support of schools, responsible media use of students, teacher training and technical equipment and IT infrastructure of schools,” says the ministry.
A lot of money is tempting – a timetable is in place
The available federal funds of 372 million euros are topped up with a 25 percent contribution from the state and the school authorities instead of the ten percent required by the federal government. In Hesse, for example, around half a billion euros – around 540 euros for each student – will be available over the next five years just to improve the digital infrastructure: “From elementary schools to secondary schools and vocational schools: All types of schools benefit from the program, and Hesse, together with the school authorities, is going the extra mile,” emphasized the Minister.
However, his bill must first be approved by the state parliament; if that is successful, the first information events and training sessions for schools and teachers will be offered after the fall vacations at the earliest, and they will then – before the turn of the year, it is hoped – be able to submit the first applications.