distance learning

That`s how distance learning works!

"Distance learning" - a frequently heard term these days in the Austrian educational landscape! We talked to expert Florian Nill about this. His practicable approaches and reality-oriented ideas convinced us. You can read here how e-learning works!

MMag. Florian Nill (https://www.nill.digital) is a dedicated teacher at the Ecolabel School "LFS Bruck an der Glocknerstraße" and the only (!) Google for Education certified trainer in Austria. Google for Education? Never heard of it? Then you might take a look here: https://bit.ly/deshalbGoogle.

Distance learning is not homeschooling.

Prof. Florian Nill talks about his work: "I have been very intensively involved in providing distance learning and the necessary cloud infrastructures. But I also help educators to implement their lessons and evaluate the experiences of the students."

Homeschooling, by the way, refers to lessons given by parents at home. You can find information about this here: https://www.nill.digital/herausforderung-homeschooling.

Pioneers in the field of education.

"I am part of a worldwide community of educational masterminds. Recently I also received the 'Learning Leadership for Change' certificate from European Schoolnet. Furthermore, I am a member or advisor of various international Edu-Tech communities (https://anme.co.uk/, https://www.iste.org/) and I am well connected internationally." Florian Nill is therefore the right man for our questions.

Well provided. He teaches at the Agricultural Technical School Bruck an der Glocknerstraße (https://www.lfs-bruck.at) in the province of Salzburg. About 350 students from Pinzgau and Pongau attend this school. And the majority of them also live in the affiliated dormitory from Monday to Friday. The communal kitchen provides the pupils and teachers with healthy meals with a lot of food from our own production and has been allowed to use the Austrian Ecolabel since 2017 (https://www.lfs-bruck.at/umweltzeichen/) - an absolutely unique selling point within Austria!

There are fixed times for online attendance. So what is the "everyday school life" like during this exceptional period at the Agricultural College Bruck? Well - not quite "everyday", but still clearly structured. Prof. Nill explains: "In the subject area of agriculture, there is a fixed timetable with daily attendance from 7:30 to 11:30. The subjects are taught in blocks. We use 'Google Hangouts Meet' as a platform for videoconferencing, where a teacher teaches either a group, a class of about 30 students or an entire class of about 60 students via videoconference."


Quiz as impulse. "The lesson will begin with a short quiz about the previous lessons. The answers to this must be sent within the first ten minutes. The quiz serves not only to repeat what has been learned, but also to check attendance. This is because the answers of the students appear in real time on the teacher's screen, allowing the teacher to check that everyone is present. However, the answers also reveal ambiguities in the learning content. These can then be addressed afterwards".

Teacher helps one-to-one! After this motivating introduction, the students are given new tasks, explains Florian Nill: "After a short input or explanation phase from the teacher, the students are given work assignments which they are then asked to complete alone or in groups. While the students work on the questions, the teacher is available for questions and assistance, for individual groups or 1:1. Afterwards, or in the following hours, the results are presented to the students". Prof. Nill emphasizes: "All assignments have fixed completion dates, which are visible to all students concerned and all teachers in the common class calendar. This avoids being overwhelmed by too many tasks".

learning snack

Then Prof Nill adds: "There is no fixed timetable in the subject area of rural business and budget management. Here the teachers post appointments in the calendar of the respective class. In the case of fixed appointments posted by teachers, the pupils are obliged to attend. Otherwise, they are free to organise their day as they wish, although according to the evaluation, an average of five and a half hours per day is spent at school".

E-Learning practice."I, for example, held a video conference with all students in the 3rd grade, in which I explained the work assignments again and answered open questions. Until the completion date, the pupils could 'book' 1:1 help from me, whereby they were mostly able to help each other. Google Classroom offers a very good platform for this, thanks to its extensive comment and feedback functions.The students help each other and learn a lot from each other, which also takes the pressure off the teacher".

Contact Platform. How is the contact with the students and colleagues maintained? Clear answer from Florian Nill: "The central platform for contact and exchange of information with our students is Google Classroom. It is also used to distribute tasks. Based on the first evaluation, the students have expressed the wish not to use any other platforms or systems. They wanted everything to run via one platform. We could easily meet this wish, as it was also the teachers preference to hav eon single platform. It is also the easiest to learn for newcomers to distance learning. Already in week 2 of the distance learning all subjects were 100% mapped in Google Classroom. The satisfaction of both students and teachers proves this approach right".

All subjects are included! "100% of the subjects are represented in the Google Classroom." Even gymnastics? "Gymnastics too! In this subject, the students are given the task of jogging 5 km and then posting selfies (with a red head 😊!) in the respective classroom course. Or they are instructed to relax at home with yoga exercises - YouTube 'tells' how to do it right. Beginners are also in good hands here, for example with https://youtu.be/UErN1VLCXC0. In the subject 'Textile Processing and Creative Design' the students were given a tutorial on how to create a mouth-nose mask, which is so important these days, and then had to recreate it."


Also, what has already been learned is repeated, as the pupils present it in a new, digital way. For example, recipes and cooking instructions are transformed into a step-by-step guide for a blog post, timelines and blueprints for workflows are digitised.

The printer remains silent.

"We don't give assignments that the students have to print out at home to complete. Workbook assignments are still done 'by hand', then 'handed in' using a smartphone photo and commented on and corrected by the teacher". How this works exactly is demonstrated very well here: https://bit.ly/fotoabgabe.".

Thanks to the commitment of the teachers! This is how distance learning succeeds! It is clear that this requires exact consideration, great creativity and increased work input from the teacher. E-learning is always a challenging task for the pedagogical team of a school, which is now also working together more intensively! Florian Nill explained to us how it works! We thank him for the interview - and his commitment!