Relution at the Gymnasium Edenkoben – An Interview

Management and protection of Android Tablets

Use case: Grammar school Edenkoben (Rhineland-Palatinate)

The Gymnasium Edenkoben is a school from the district Südliche Weinstraße in the south of Rhineland-Palatinate. A total of 877 pupils are taught at the Gymnasium Edenkoben under the motto “Discover your abilities”. The school’s media program starts in grade 5 and includes various programs such as cyberbullying prevention and the opportunity to obtain a computer driving license. Since digital literacy is playing an increasingly important role in everyday life, the media program is also being further promoted to show pupils how to use digital media responsibly. In addition to traditional computer-based teaching, Android Tablets are now also being integrated into the curriculum.

A short interview with Mr. Simon Terber, teacher for German and Fine Arts at the Gymnasium Edenkoben.

Interview with Simon Terber (teacher)

“Hello, Mr. Terber. Please tell our readers about the media program at Edenkoben High School.”

“We have now started to install a tablet team in the Kollegium in addition to the computer driving license ECDL. Last year as a teacher I developed a prototype for a school app together with the SV and some students and so we received 20.000 Euro from the Hopp-Foundation for the purchase of school tablets. We decided to use Android devices because app programming is the easiest to implement here. We are currently developing a tablet teacher team that will use two tablet cases to train students in the use of digital tools. The tablets are not intended for students working from home but are to be used on a project-by-project basis and under the supervision of the relevant teachers. The teachers who design the tablet lessons may, of course, take their school tablets with them for homework. In addition, we have now equipped all classrooms with beamers and Miracast projection dongles so that the results of a digital nature can be communicated wirelessly. In the project group, we are now working on high-quality media work in best-practice events. The tablet teachers are brought up to date once or twice a semester in an internal school training course and exchange ideas about teaching scenarios. We create an online pool with teaching material on Moodle from this working group. This will be available to future teachers at our school and will make working with tablets even easier. We are also thinking about expanding the tablet work in the college. A digital class register would thus be a sensible extension of the school work. A concrete written media concept is to become the product of all these tablet events and is still under construction.”

“Why do you think tablets are the solution in class?”

“We don’t see tablets as a solution in themselves and we are also very critical about the excessive or ineffective use of tablets. Tablets only make sense to us when they are used as an extension of conventional learning arrangements or add to or enhance worksheets with multimedia aspects. We are working on a pedagogically sensible media concept with a view to the class levels, but we are only at the start here. So far we have installed useful apps and tested some lessons in use. The actual project-oriented tablet lessons will start on August 2018 with the tablet teachers. I see pedagogical added value where children and young people can specifically develop media products (apps, pictures, presentations) or use tablets for individual learning support (differentiation). However, clear work instructions and strict guidelines on the part of teachers are part of everyday learning, because a tablet also carries the risk of getting lost in the jungle of possibilities.” “Describe a typical learning scene you would say about: This is what good teaching with tablets looks like”. “I think good teaching starts with an authentic teacher. One such person is followed by the children. Tablets are teaching tools around which no lessons should be built, but which should be part of the learning or teaching goals. A good tablet lesson regulates tablet phases profitably, relies on multimedia worksheets that can address several senses or learning types. For example, students can use the H5P software to watch English videos, which are automatically stopped at some points and ask the student questions about the film in English. In this way, very motivating language lessons are realized that can promote listening comprehension. In art lessons, I see excellent possibilities to realize e.g. composition analyses and research for the interpretation of paintings with the tablets. Analog worksheets can also be provided with QR codes, making images, instructional videos or 3D graphics available.”

“What technical challenges did you have to overcome before utilizing tablets?”

“At the beginning, the technical challenges were immense. The topic usually starts with the question: Apple, Android or an alternative operating system? Perhaps even the Chromebooks popular in the USA? All systems, have aspects that speak for it and against it. However, it is important to respect data security in the school context. We have installed fictitious Google accounts on the devices (e.g. GYMEDEN1 …). Theoretically, it was also possible to apply to “Google Apps for Education”. If you are registered there, you can use your school’s e-mail addresses with the school domain extension for all Google services or apps and thus bypass almost all American servers.

We decided to use Relution for Education because it gave us the possibility to put a KIOSK mode, a kind of layer over the actual interface of our Android devices, which means that the students can no longer change the settings of the devices. We also specifically blocked the Google Playstore on Android.

All this was a lot of work, not to mention the research on the internet. Relution is the perfect tool for device management and secure management of Android or iOS tablets. It offers the possibility to equip our devices with the latest apps via a single online mask. These are then “rolled out” to all tablets overnight. Besides all these points there is also the possibility to use teacher control software for direct lessons on the tablets. These are available from various providers and are usually expensive to buy for a school.

We have therefore decided against a classroom management tool for teachers and rely on the rule: ‘Tablets can only be used if the teacher asks for them personally’.” “Why is Relution for Education the right tool?”

“Relution is perfect for school for several reasons. First of all, it is a German provider that works directly with the ministries and knows its way around the education sector. One has the feeling that the employees have an eye on the schools and their financial situation. Relution makes it possible to manage a smaller number of devices free of charge. In addition, there are “Educational” prices for schools that differ from those of the economy and are affordable for school operations. In addition to these financial aspects, Relution has very competent employees. When we tested the online MDM system, we received extensive and free advice. In a video session even more complex problems with the integration of tablets were solved distinctly. We, therefore, recommend Relution for Education to other schools, the organization of tablets is very simple and easy.”

Assuming a teacher from another school asks what Relution for Education could do for his school? What would you answer?”

“Relution for Education greatly simplifies the organization and safeguarding of school tablets and ensures that one can return to one’s original task: teaching planning. **What is your personal assessment of how the topic of “tablets in school” will develop in Rhineland-Palatinate in the future? “I don’t think that the partly excellent textbooks should be completely replaced by tablets or that this will happen in general. Currently, the textbooks on the market are only PDFs with no major in-depth or multimedia extensions. Perhaps the question should be rather: How will good teaching be accomplished in the future in the combination of books and tablets? Tablets will contribute to the multimedia extension of teaching, no question, and hopefully they will become even more effective.”

“Which Android apps can you recommend to other teachers?”

LiveBoard (also platform independent)

WPS-Office (free pen function in PowerPoint applications)

Moodle-Mobile (file storage and lesson design)

Autodesk Sketchbook (Draw like a pro with pen tablets)

Kahoot (surveys at the end of a series of lessons)

Padlet (digital screen for teaching results)

FOXIT PDF or writing to PDF from Samsung for digital worksheets”.

The interview was conducted by Valerio Lewandowski.