The majority of German schools were unprepared when the coronavirus pandemic arrived. It’s no wonder, as in 2019 Germany was still trailing the pack when it came to the Europe-wide e-learning ranking. The Graf-Zeppelin High School has shown that there is another way. The Friedrichshafen-based school introduced the collaboration solution Avaya Spaces to the network within a few days of the nationwide lockdown, switched teaching to a virtual classroom quickly, and thus set up optimal conditions for successful knowledge transfer in the digital space.
For days rumors had been spreading and on March 13, 2020 it was finally confirmed: due to the coronavirus pandemic all schools were to be closed throughout Germany. The Friedrichshafen-based Graf-Zeppelin High School (GZG) also sent almost 800 students and 80 teachers home. However, this was not a matter of holidays. Because, according to political stipulations, the educational mandate should, despite the coronavirus lockdown, continue as planned.
But that was easier said than done. Digital learning opportunities were only rudimentarily available at the GZG, as in many other German schools. But, while many others were initially paralyzed by the coronavirus crisis, GZG management quickly went into overdrive:
"We met the day after receiving the information about the school closures and discussed how to proceed”, remembered Silke Baer, member of the school management team.
It quickly became clear that without digital tools high-quality distance learning would hardly be possible. But, inadequately secured applications also offer possibilities for data protection violations. Because, in contrast to the regular lessons, anonymous participants can enter unnoticed into the virtual classroom, interfere with the lessons, or tap into and misuse sensitive information such as personal data.
"Open video chat offers such as Zoom did not come into consideration for us," explains Fabian Feiri who takes care of IT-assisted lessons in the GZG management team. A secure system that could be obtained via a German or European computer center was sought. "This ensures that the cloud software complies with the demanding requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation", explains Feiri. An important aspect for schools, especially as special data protection rules apply to minors.