As the educational landscape evolves, Werner-von-Siemens Gymnasium takes the lead in embracing digital learning. Their successful integration of itslearning not only ensured continuity during challenging times but also stands as a blueprint for schools venturing into the digital frontier.
Photo: Werner-von-Siemens Gymnasium
Situated in the serene greenery of Berlin's southwest, and home to of one of Germany’s best teachers, Werner-von-Siemens Gymnasium represents academic excellence and progressive education. Recently, this prestigious institution made a pivotal shift towards digital learning, adopting itslearning as their primary learning management system. What began as a response to the challenges posed by the pandemic has now become an integral component of their educational framework, seamlessly blending in-person and digital learning experiences.
Resilient Shift: Navigating Change in the Digital Landscape
When the pandemic necessitated a rapid transition to digital learning, Werner-von-Siemens Gymnasium rose to the occasion. The existing solutions were deemed inadequate, prompting the school's embrace of itslearning. This shift was not merely reactive, as the school had long recognised the need for a robust digital infrastructure.
In 2021, Berlin's education landscape underwent a significant transformation when the state signed an agreement with itslearning making the learning platform available to all schools in Berlin. This marked a pivotal moment in the state's commitment to bolstering digital learning opportunities, providing a lifeline for students learning from home.
A thoughtful approach to implementation
In response to the pandemic, the school's management assembled a dedicated team to spearhead the implementation of itslearning. Ms. Rosmarie Spyra, Deputy Headmistress at the gymnasium and head of the team, underlines the importance of the change.
“It was crucial for us to be able to build organisational systems and structures”, she says, and continues, “we aimed to create an extended classroom that blurs the connection between in-person and digital learning.”
They opted for a gradual introduction, starting with basic tasks like messaging and calendar use. Following the summer break, a comprehensive itslearning onboarding day was organised for the staff, supplemented by instructional videos.
"itslearning is the Mercedes of possibilities, but we had to start small to not make it overwhelming," remarks Telschow, providing insight into the school's approach to this digital transition.
Acknowledging the varying levels of digital competency among staff, the school took a proactive approach to address resistance to change. They worked closely with teachers, demonstrating the benefits of itslearning in terms of structure and resource sharing within the platform. This patient and inclusive approach helped bridge the digital culture gap, ensuring a smoother transition for all stakeholders.
Curriculum integration is a gamechanger
One of the standout features for Werner-von-Siemens Gymnasium has been its ability to seamlessly integrate the Berlin curriculum into itslearning. This innovation has been hailed as a gamechanger, allowing for collaborative course planning and dynamic adjustments based on learners' needs. The platform's capacity to provide specific feedback on competency levels was noted as a particularly powerful tool for educators.
"The greatest advantage is the use of specific feedback on the status of competencies. I wouldn't even know how to do that as effectively without itslearning," Telschow explains.
A blueprint for success
The successful integration of itslearning at Werner-von-Siemens Gymnasium offers a blueprint for other schools embarking on their own digital journeys. Here are the key steps outlined by the institution:
- Select an LMS Wisely
A thorough evaluation of LMS options is crucial to select one that aligns with the school's unique educational vision.
- Define implementation goals
Establish clear objectives based on the school's development goals and the desired outcomes from the learning management system.
- Build a dedicated implementation team
Assemble a team of tech-savvy individuals who can lead the implementation process.
- Engage the Entire Staff
Involving the entire staff ensures a collective commitment to the integration process.
- Gradual introduction
Start with basic tasks like messaging and calendar usage to ease staff into using the platform. Avoid overwhelming them with the full spectrum of possibilities.
- Empower teachers through targeted training
Develop training programs that address the distinct roles and responsibilities of teachers within the LMS.
- Continuous reflection and training
Regularly assess what has been achieved and identify areas for improvement. Provide ongoing training and support to maximise the platform's potential.
"Our success with itslearning is a testament to the potential of transformative digital education," emphasises Telschow.
Today, over 98% of educators at Werner-von-Siemens Gymnasium depend on itslearning for their daily instructional needs. Students, familiar with digital tools, have readily embraced the platform, amplifying its impact.
As the school looks ahead, they envision greater adaptation of features and further customisation of the platform to align with their unique identity. Challenges with integration persist, particularly with WebUntis, but the collective spirit within the Berlin itslearning community continues to drive innovation and shared learning experiences.
Werner-von-Siemens Gymnasium's successful adoption of itslearning serves as a testament to the power of thoughtful planning and dedicated implementation. This approach has not only navigated the challenges of the pandemic but has also elevated the quality of education, setting a new standard for digital learning in Berlin's educational landscape.