The digital classroom

Bob Blume is an anomaly – a tweeting, blogging teacher, one
who debates online with students and gets into his classroom
lets look. How is that possible? And: Does he have any concerns?
There’s a wave of flowers. The 35-year-old is a teacher at one
Baden-Württemberg Gymnasium and finds: Digitalisation is changing
the teaching profession, far from any technique, teachers have
almost no choice but to embark on the change. In an interview with LEAD, he explains why they are not professionals in digitization
but it does not hurt if they are familiar with social networks.

LEAD: Mr. Blume, a whiteboard and a beamer in every classroom – is this the so-called digital lesson?

Bob Blume: No, in the end, this is not a form of digital work. Roughly speaking, it makes no difference whether I write chalk on a slate or project it onto a whiteboard with the projector. I may be able to document this better, but it’s just a change in the way it’s presented. The concept behind it is the same.

The federal government plans to distribute several billion schools in the coming years so that they can buy laptops or tablets, for example. Does that bring nothing then?


Blume: That’s difficult to say. There are many issues that are addressed: equipment, teacher training, curricula. Does a German teacher read the fist on the tablet or from the Reclamheft? In the end, that does not say anything about the quality of the lesson. More important in my opinion is the attitude behind it. As a teacher, you can also have progressive methods and reflect on the effects of the Internet while not using digital devices.

What kind of attitude is that?

Blume: Some people ask: Why do I need a tablet to do something I do anyway? What good is that to me? I think we should not hold a usefulness debate. We need to bring digital media and topics into the classroom to reflect them with the students. How do online identities develop, like friendships? What do influencers do, why do some people reach more people than all German newspapers together? All this is negotiated in the digital sphere. These topics have to be in the class just because they are real.

What does such a lesson look like then?

Blume: You can start with the methodology and the content. For example, more modern content using a conventional method would mean: We read a text by Sascha Lobo, on paper, in German lessons and write a synopsis. But you can also make the lessons as such agile. That is, one may only provide a framework and the students develop within this a relevant issue, looking for experts, research independently. In the end, there could be a wiki presenting the results. Or a small blog or channel on YouTube. So the results would still be accessible to others.

And this agile teaching is better?

Flower: No. To say: I teach good because I’m so agile or digital – that’s not how it works. It is a way to not only make students react to learning material, but to make them doers who make judgments with the help of acquired competences. Regardless of content or devices. This is also media education.

Young people know a lot better on the internet than most teachers anyway. What else can the school teach them today?

Blume: I sometimes compare the internet to a big city with many different neighborhoods. For example, I can go to the Red Light District, to the gangsters. Then parents or teachers can say to the children: It’s dangerous, I will not let you out. But then you also get them the libraries, museums or the city park, which there are out there. On the other hand, adults in a big city would hardly say, “Get out, I do not know you anyway.” I am in favor of enabling the students to move in this city. You do not have to know everything perfectly about that. But you can always ask: what are you doing? Why? What do you get out of that?

What do your students say?

Blume: For example, I’m talking to a lot of people who do not really care about what they’re doing on the net. But many speak of the feeling of being sucked into social platforms, unable to resist. This is a sign that you have to address this in the classroom. Far from whether you have a class set Tablets or not. Part of digital education happens on a level that has nothing to do with technology at all.

What else belongs to digital education?

Flower: Google filters to set, for example. Filter sovereignty, recognize Fakenews, also to know: Can I use what I find, even for my school work? These are things that are not given, but often do not matter. A teacher is then echauffiert about that a presentation is copied somewhere. But when I ask for a presentation, I can not actually do that without teaching the students research. That too is part of digital education, which should be tackled much more.

“And you are?”

“German teacher!”

“We’ll get back to you.”

“We will contact you.”


– ⓑ² (@blume_bob) 12. July 2014

Do teachers need to be active on Twitter or Snapchat?

Blume: That’s always a question of type. No one should be forced into something he or she does not feel like doing. I think you should know the networks, also from within. Just knowing that Twitter exists is a little bit. But you can at least get it in there, also anonymously. Or look at forums: How do people talk? In the end, teachers are mostly civil servants, whose aim should be to strengthen democracy, to maintain an attitude, to be a role model in some ways. If you then completely pull out of the discourse, it may be that you lose the connection.

How do you deal with social media?

Blume: Students follow me on Twitter, I only follow them back after they leave school. On Facebook, I do not accept friend requests. I would never write anything about my own children now, but the students see: This is someone who likes to talk, while staying factual, someone who likes music and culture, talking about social issues.

If you make yourself so visible, you do not open the students a dangerous door? You could comment cheekily or, for example, organize a shitstorm against the teacher if they are not satisfied with grading a class paper.

Blume: If students behave inappropriately online, they can pick this up again in class and ask: Do you actually know what you’re doing? I think there is something else behind the doubts, namely the fear of losing the teacher image that once existed. Anyone who is afraid of losing control of course can close all doors. But then you should not believe that you are not perceived, just because you do not maintain profiles online. The loss of control is already there. The question is whether you actively or passively strive for a position within it.

Are teachers no longer authority figures today?

Blume: Even today, teachers have even more knowledge and much more experience in the methodology and in the development. We are a Authority, but not the only one. There are lesson scenarios in which I determine the lesson contents. But I can not put my degree of socialization over them. The teachers also learn back from the students. Who thinks, he has learned, did not understand. This is not a deficit.

Flower02 2
High school teacher Bob Blume (picture: private)

Bob Blume, 35, is a teacher at the Windeck-Gymnasium in Bühl-Württemberg and teaches English, German and history. In addition, he runs a Youtube channel and a blog on the clerkship, digitization and other political issues.

Bob Blume online: Twitter ++ Blog ++ YouTube ++ Podcast

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The construction sites of digitization employ politicians, citizens and activists alike. In the current issue of LEAD, u.a. Marja-Liisa Völlers, SPD member and teacher, which construction sites should tackle the current federal government in the field of digital education.

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