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The SH Summer University - Still an Important Discussion Forum for School Practice and Educational Research after 11 years

August 21st, 2018

Dealing with heterogeneity and digitization, these two current school challenges were on the agenda of this year's SH Summer University which attracted 50 teachers from all school types in Schleswig-Holstein to Sankelmark.

The event was opened by the State Secretary from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Dr. Dorit Stenke, and led by Prof. Ute Harms, who represented Kiel University and the IPN. In her welcoming address, Stenke emphasized: "The shaping of digital change with the aim of creating participation and maturity as well as equal opportunities for every child is one of the focal points of Schleswig-Holstein's education policy. €9.6 million are earmarked for continuing the "Schools on the Net" program and further expanding the schools' fiber-optic connections. "For the first time we will systematically anchor learning with digital media in teacher training," Stenke continued. This, and the establishment of a center for blended learning for teacher training and the development of a digital education platform are decisive steps.

In his opening lecture regarding young adults in Web 2.0 and their experience with inappropriate behavior, Prof. Thomas Bliesener from the Crime Research Institute of Lower Saxony emphasized the importance and dangers of digitization for children and young adults outside of school. Bliesener very clearly illustrated the extremely problematic contents that children and young adults can be confronted with in social networks. As a first step, it is the school and family’s duty to raise awareness of the problem to protect children and young adults. Studies have shown appealing to fear as ineffective. Children and young adults are more likely to share problems with adults having good digital skills than with adults with poor digital skills, which underlines the importance of teachers’ sound digital education. The focus of schools should therefore be the promotion of critical media competence which, among other things, raises awareness of the dangers and consequences of the web and addresses the handling of personal data. It is also necessary to agree on rules of conduct (netiquette) and to work towards the development of civic courage on the net.

Prof. Detlev Leutner from the University of Essen-Duisburg from a cognitive psychological perspective discussed how learning programs with text and/or images affect learning processes and how cognitive overload can influence them. In two subsequent workshops, different applications of dynamic visualizations, of online platforms and apps as well as explanatory videos by IPN staff members, Dr. Tim Höffler and Dr. Till Bruckermann, and Dr. Janet Blankenburg were explained and illustrated using specific examples. Prof. Matthis Kepser from the University of Bremen rounded off the program on digitization with his lecture on schools today in the informational participation society. Among other things, he pointed out the numerous opportunities offered by computer games for creative work in German lessons.

In her welcoming address, the State Secretary also addressed in great detail the second main topic, dealing with heterogeneity. She emphasized that the school as a central educational institution is the first to feel the effects of a socially and ethnically heterogeneous student body. She explained: "Fairness in education is one of the most pressing issues of our time. We want more equal opportunities and are hence investing in an educational bonus for schools in socially challenging situations. At the same time, increasing heterogeneity also requires new concepts for democracy education or dealing with religiously motivated extremism. We are also tackling these issues together with the schools."

These aspects of increasing heterogeneity in schools were addressed by Prof. Isabell van Ackeren and Dr. Nina Bremm from the University of Duisburg-Essen in their workshop on heterogeneity and school development at schools in deprived locations. For the subject German, Dr. Simone Jambor-Fahlen pointed out differentiated possibilities for promoting reading comprehension in primary and secondary schools; for English teaching, Prof. Olaf Köller from the IPN showed current data on the gains of English teaching both in primary and secondary schools. Prof. Jessika Golle from the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen gave a comprehensive overview of the possibilities of identifying and supporting particularly gifted children.

This year the participants were again very interested in the scientific contributions. Informal settings as well as an excursion on the Schlei offered the opportunity to talk directly to the scientists beyond the discussions following the lectures and workshops. Once again the Summer University was a forum for representatives from school practice to focus on important and future-oriented topics and to get to know the latest scientific findings.

Contact at the IPN
Prof. Dr. Ute Harms
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