One of the biggest steps taken in the battle against the coronavirus has been closing schools until the end of the Easter holidays at the earliest. This sudden end to classroom lessons has thrown up a multitude of challenges for many schools and even educational institutions like the LÖWENROT High School in St. Leon-Rot, which has excelled in digitalisation. Introducing Cisco Webex as a video conference technology gives the private school the flexibility they need to quickly switch to virtual teaching in the event of extraordinary circumstances.
The LÖWENROT High School in St. Leon-Rot, south-west Germany is grammar school providing general secondary education supported by the Dietmar Hopp Foundation. Small classes, a highly motivated team, a strong culture of communication and a holistic approach of a school being a living space ensures a modern environment in which 600 pupils expand their minds. Closing classrooms to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus has proved to be an unexpected test for the school community. “We were very quickly able to set up sending learning materials and work via e-mail and file management solutions, however, it became clear that the pupils were missing the personal contact with their teachers”, says Jörg Schmidt, Managing Director, LÖWENROT High School.
The school’s previously implemented digital strategy was largely based on the HPI School Cloud, which the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) developed on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The impromptu closure of schools put an extraordinary amount of pressure on the school’s previous strategy particularly as there was no video conference technology to enable virtual classrooms, which not only allow for interactive communication between teaching staff and students, but also independent learning from home.
Jörg Schmidt, Managing Director
LÖWENROT High School
Picture: Living community in regular school life. During the Corona pandemic, the accustomed closeness is made possible by new forms of virtual togetherness.
Managing Director Bechtle Clouds
Bechtle were in a position to offer a professional and cost-neutral approach for fast support. “From the various options Bechtle presented us with, we decided to go with Cisco Webex predominantly because it is intuitive and easy to learn, which was crucial for us during the switch to completely using HPI School Cloud. There were only five days from the initial contact between the school management and Bechtle to the onboarding of the selected web conferencing and collaboration solution—from the solution offer and intensive adjustments at the school, to the technical launch of the environment and the initial administrator briefing.
“Two central use cases emerged from the exchange: firstly, the use of Webex Meetings to be able to offer online lessons from the off and secondly, the configuration of Webex Teams Rooms, with which teachers can share information with each other and, if necessary, with Bechtle experts”, explains Dennis Wimmer, Portfolio and Service Design Manager at Bechtle Clouds, who coordinated the project. The first pilot classes using Webex Meeting could be tested at the end of March to gain crucial experience.
Picture: The LÖWENROT-Gymnasium St. Leon-Rot supported by the Dietmar Hopp Foundation has established itself as an innovative educational location in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region.
The first online class during which teachers could contact their pupils and discuss the current situation was scheduled for the Friday before the Easter holidays. “Thanks to our tried and tested approach, we were able to establish a perfectly tailored solution for the LÖWENROT High School that offered value for the pupils and students, but also the parents. We are delighted to have been able to restore a bit of normality to many families who had been confronted with unexpected challenges”, says Melanie Schüle, Managing Director, Bechtle Clouds.
If the school gates should remain closed after the Easter holidays, the LÖWENROT High School is well-equipped to drive forward digital learning. “We are now in a position to offer online lessons as part of regular classroom teaching in both core and minor subjects. It’s a fantastic result in such a short period of time”, concludes Managing Director, Jörg Schmidt.
“Using Cisco Webex in school’s is literally child’s play. Teach your pupils virtually without losing the personal connection. Distribute homework, worksheets and other documents in virtual classrooms while still linked to your existing learning management systems.”
Matthias Deufel, Presales Innovation and Technology Cisco, Bechtle Logistik & Service
Bechtle Clouds GmbH
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Published on Apr 9, 2020.