Notes on teaching in the winter semester 2020/2021

1. Organizational matters

What is different in the winter semester 2020/21?

Due to the corona pandemic, a different time schedule than usual is planned for the winter semester 2020/21. According to the decision of the Rectorate, each course - whether synchronous, online or in attendance - has a time window of 60 minutes. The remaining 30 minutes are to be provided asynchronously as a fixed component of the course. It is still essential that the learning outcomes of the course or module are achieved. This requires a clear structure and didactic design. This does not mean, however, that the 60 plus 30 scheme must be fulfilled in each week (see below). The following compilation is meant as a starting point.  More information on the application and use of tools will be added during the course of September.


How do students obtain important information about the course, its structure and didactic design?

A short description should be part of the announcement of the course in ALMA. Please also note where the course can be found on the learning platform. For your own preparation as well as for more detailed information for the students, it is recommended to write and provide a syllabus of the course. With the transparent information to the students, a framework and binding character can be set. The syllabus contains e.g. the learning outcomes of the course, the sequence and structure including the individual dates and deadlines, furthermore references to literature to be read, to tasks or questions to be worked on by the students, to course work and examination requirements as well as to communication rules and on how to interact with each other, etc. 
Interested individuals will find suggestions here, for example:



Can several 30-minute units be combined?

Yes, that is possible. As far as the timeline is concerned, these blocks can be scheduled before or after the actual course.


How exactly should these units be calculated?

At this point it can only be a rough but plausible estimation. It is essential to supplement the synchronous course, also for the calculation of the teaching load.

Teaching on Saturdays

Our concept for a partial return to on-campus teaching in the winter semester includes the option of also using Saturdays for teaching classes. The university management and the Staff Council have now agreed that the following aspects will be observed:

  • On Saturdays, mainly block courses will be offered. Thus, the weekends will remain largely free of courses for teachers and students as usual.
  • Work on Saturdays is by mutual agreement only.
  • The respective superiors are requested to consider family tasks of their employees who are working on Saturdays, as well as voluntary work or further training.
  • Despite work on Saturdays, a five-day working week will be observed. It will be ensured that the employees concerned have two days off in a row, unless the employees themselves wish to arrange this in a different way.
  • If these conditions are not observed, those affected can turn to the following contact persons: The Vice-president for Academic Affairs, the Executive Vice-president, the respective deans, the head of the Student Affairs division or the Human Resources section. In addition, employees are free to turn to the Staff Council.

2. Concepts & didactic options

How can the asynchronous work phases be designed?

2.1. Inverted or flipped classroom

As an already well-proven model, the so-called inverted or flipped classroom is particularly suitable. The principle is simple and can be implemented in different ways: Content that is usually taught in courses on site can be appropriated by the students themselves in advance as video, podcast, online module (e.g. OER) or in traditional text study. The attendance time is reserved for in-depth study of the content, for discussion, and for questions to the teachers. There is room for interactive design and encounter. For seminars, presentations can also be pre-recorded or made available as a set of slides and a script - and with the materials also the associated questions. The same applies to the preparation of texts. Mathematical tasks can also be prepared for a joint on-site session. In addition, the use of forums is also possible during preparation.
A more specific example: a presentation will be uploaded in ILIAS as video or as slides with explanations in due time before the on-site date. In addition the students receive questions. Everyone prepares for the joint session with these materials. During the session the topics and questions are briefly addressed and serve as a starting point for further discussion.

In mathematics, for example, content is provided in advance as a recording, students work on associated task sheets and prepare the joint session in which questions and problems are discussed.

For the model of the inverted or flipped classroom with some examples see https://www.e-teaching.org/lehrszenarien/vorlesung/inverted_classroom 

Also very descriptive are the videos on mathematics by Prof. Christian Spannagel, PH Heidelberg - Introduction to the concept for students: 

If you want to read more: here is an article from Great Britain: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/30317388.pdf

2.2. Asynchronous group work

It is also conceivable to prepare or follow-up work on a session in an asynchronous group work led by the university teachers.  This is made possible in ILIAS e.g. by the Etherpad or the Wiki. With these tools e.g. questions and topics can be collected and structured in advance. In the follow-up work results can be saved, documented and formulated in writing. The tasks can be the same for everyone or different for each group. In the on-site session, intermediate results and results from the groups are recorded - preferably following a regular pattern. The teacher can comment briefly on the interim results or a student reports from one group.

Forms of Asynchronous group work

Groups in ILIAS

ILIAS allows the creation of groups (via "Add new object"), in which e.g. 3-4 students from the course can be included. If the mentioned tools Etherpad and Wiki are set up within the groups, they will only be visible to their members as well as the teachers.


The Etherpad allows several participants to write at the same time. The pad can be pre-structured by the teachers through headers, questions, etc. It is more suitable for shorter texts.




The Wiki also allows collaborative writing, but is a much more comprehensive tool: different pages and sub-pages can be opened and media can be inserted. A pre-structuring can be done e.g. via the starting page, where the various sub-pages are displayed. A Wiki can also be used as a kind of semester diary for a group.



Groups can also be set up in Moodle. This platform also has the option of setting up a Wiki.

Scientific associations have also addressed the issue of digitization. Here is the corresponding website of the Deutscher Germanistenverband. https://vfr.mww-forschung.de/web/digitale-lehre-germanistik/einstieg?s=09