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European Innovative Teaching Award
Tionscadal

Adapting e-Learning and Social Network-based Internet Applications to Teaching the German Language in Secondary Schools

School: Zalaegerszegi Zrínyi Miklós Gimnázium

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Topic(s) addressed

The project’s objective was to enhance participating language teachers’ competences in information and communication technologies, and promote ICT skills among learners and other members of the foreign language department. It was also important to increase the standards and efficiency of the schools’ language teaching techniques, and encourage increased use of ICT tools. One of the school’s main pursuits was the in-and-out-of-the-classroom use of ICT-applications; furthermore, it also supported the introduction and application of blended-learning techniques, learner differentiation methods, individualised learner pace and gamification in teachers’ teaching practices.

Target groups

The primary target ‘group’ was the participation of a Hungarian secondary grammar school teacher of English and German (aged 36). The secondary target group consisted of Hungarian students between the ages of 14-19 (later broadened from 10-19) who were learning German or English, and other teachers of foreign languages (English, French, German, Italian) from schools in Hungary, Germany, and the County of Zala.

Methodologies

The project adopted a multidisciplinary approach, where it focused on e-learning and social network-based Internet applications in the teaching of the German language in secondary schools. However, it was also adapted to other disciplines, languages (English, French, Italian; subjects and classes other than foreign languages, especially IT); other school types and educational levels (junior and senior section of primary schools; secondary technical and vocational schools) due to in-school and out-of-school workshops and an online demo lesson organised and held by participants. Key competence development saw improvements to the ICT-competence of participants, their students, the teachers of the school's language department, and the teachers consulted or supervised by participants as teacher consultant. The project also facilitated the preservation and promotion of the school's standards of foreign language teaching (thus the appropriate language competence of its learners), and the promotion of classroom ICT application (learners’ digital competences). Methodological improvements allowed participants to learn of up-to-date Internet resources applied in foreign language learning; their efficient exploration of curricula on the Internet; their use of audio and video materials, blogs and Web 2.0 applications for teaching purposes; implied classroom internet projects; their design of blended learning units for the school's foreign language teaching processes; and the development of interactive tasks and practices through the use of audio and video materials. Furthermore, the project allowed for the linking of formal, non-formal, and informal learning through the in-class use of acquired technics, methods, and applications adapted to current syllabuses that support formal learning while contributing to successful learner-participation in standard tests and assessments (accredited language examinations, state school-leaving examinations, competitions). The out-of-the class tasks, exercises, assignments that were developed through e-learning, blended learning, and social network-based Internet applications promoted non-formal-learning while giving learners further motivation to engage in the use of foreign languages. The newly introduced ways of learning reinforced informal learning by engaging learners in involuntary experiences where mainly social network-based Internet applications, sites, and forums played a crucial role. In the interest of ensuring inclusion, participation, and cooperation –the application of the aforementioned formal, non-formal, and informal ways of learning enabled the teacher (and those who consulted or were supervised by them) to include highly talented learners (with higher levels of previous knowledge, a faster learning space, and different academic aims) and learners with learning difficulties in students’ in-class and out-of-class education. Students were motivated to participate and learn about the newer functions of ICT-tools and methods of self-regulated learning and personal development – both of which created a basis for life-long learning. Both in-class teaching methods and out-of-class e-learning, as well as blended and social network-based learning procedures made use of cooperative learning techniques through learner pairs, trios, or either smaller or larger groups – especially during the online schooling sessions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the innovative use of tools such as LearningApps, the various Google Sites, Google Drive, and Google Documents in everyday teaching and learning was innovative at the school level as well as at the county and national levels. Since 2015, further innovative techniques (BookCreator, Etherpad, Kahoot!, Mentimeter, Quizlet, Redmenta etc.) were introduced by participating teachers into their own teaching practices, as well as to other teachers both in and out of the school through online workshops and an online demo lesson – most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learners’ active role in the learning process (e-learning, blended and social network-based learning tools) showed that gamification proved to be a main motivation factor for learners in playing an active and voluntary role in their learning process. Differentiated instruction also played a key role in empowering learners to take an active role in their non-formal and informal language acquisition.

Environments

By adopting the whole school approach, the Zrínyi Miklós Secondary Grammar School in Zalaegerszeg (Zalaegerszegi Zrínyi Miklós Gimnázium) was frequently placed among the top 20 rural grammar schools at the national level. As such, in order to properly promote its highly talented and motivated learners, innovative teaching technics were (and are) required, which facilitated the school management’s welcoming of innovative approaches by teachers. Cross-sectoral cooperation saw the involvement of multiple stakeholders from outside the school in addressing the challenges faced by the school, its staff, and learners. Its highly talented learners were supported by the school’s participation in nationwide projects such as the Accredited Talent Support Workshop (Minősített Tehetséggondozó Műhely), the Accredited Outstanding Centre for Talents (Akkreditált Kiváló Tehtségpont), the Basis School of the Hungarian Educational Authority (Oktatási Hivatal Bázisintézménye), and the National Talent Program (Nemzeti Tehetség Program). Students at risk of leaving school early or who faced learning difficulties and came from disadvantaged social backgrounds, were advised by regular health care representatives (school paediatrician, school nurse, developer educator), social authorities, and child protection services. Schools as enablers of innovation – the need to innovate was especially apparent during previous online schooling sessions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with such circumstances having reinforced the successful use of Google Classroom (along with major Google apps and functions), gamification tools e.g. Kahoot!, Mentimeter, Quizlet and other tools at the school level towards reducing the drop out rate of schools. Such innovative technics have been continuously used by teachers from the participating school and were also promoted among out-of-school teachers since 2015 (particularly in 2020 and 2021 by means of online workshops and an online demo lesson held by the participating teacher).

Teachers

The project improved the ICT-competence of the participating teacher as well as their students, teachers from the school's language department, and consultant teachers. The project helped maintain the school's high standards of foreign language teaching (thus ensuring the appropriate language competence of its learners). The project incorporated methodological improvements through up-to-date Internet resources that were applied in foreign language learning; the exploration of the curricula on the Internet through more efficient techniques; the use of audio and video materials, blogs, and Web 2.0 applications for teaching; implied classroom Internet projects; the design of blended learning units for the school's foreign language teaching processes; and the development of interactive tasks and practices through the use of audio and video materials. Teachers’ cooperation and peer learning saw collaborative efforts implemented between the participating teacher and their colleagues (both in and outside the school environment). By means of workshops and a demonstration lesson, e-learning and social network-based Internet applications were introduced to other teachers of German from participating schools. Furthermore, it was also adapted to other disciplines, languages (English, French, Italian), subjects, and classes (especially IT); other school types and education levels (junior and senior section of primary schools; secondary technical and vocational schools). The project incorporated the use of audio and video materials, blogs and Web 2.0 applications, classroom Internet projects, blended learning units, interactive tasks and practices through the use of audio and video materials. As all of these activities were combined with cooperative learning technics as well, the project also facilitated the peer learning process.

Impact

Quality of innovation processes: the introduction of e-learning, blended, and social network-based learning was innovative at the school level as well as at the county and national levels. Teachers’ agency as innovators saw the introduction of applications and sites into everyday teaching and learning, which was innovative at the school, county, and national levels. Such exercises were also assisted by the Pedagogical Institute of Zala County (Zala Megyei Pedagógiai Intézet) and later by the Pedagogical Centre for Education in Zalaegerszeg (Zalaegerszegi Pedagógiai Oktatási Központ). The project had an obviously positive effect on the staff of the participating school; according to internal workshops and the demonstration lessons held throughout 2014 and 2015, 17 teachers from the participating school were familiarised with the project’s content and outcomes, with a further 30 teachers having learnt about the use of Web 2.0 tools, especially LearningApps due to external workshops that had been held at the same time, while 30 to 40 other out-of-school teachers were acquainted with e-learning, blended and social network-based learning technics and applications.

Páirtithe leasmhara

Rannpháirtithe

Institut für internationale Kommunikation e.V.

Seoladh
Germany