Teaching – Protection against discrimination in digital learning
As a lecturer, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic you have been required to increasingly convert your teaching - courses, consultation, supervision and examinations - online under great time pressure and to implement it in a digital form. Many students experience the changed learning conditions as a challenge because they lack time resources, technical equipment or access to an undisturbed workplace. On the other hand, some students find asynchronous digital formats particularly helpful due to their time flexibility.
Our intention with this website is to support you with your digital teaching activities in such a way that all those involved can work together productively and with as little discrimination as possible. You can find more information on general conditions for digital teaching and questions regarding the pandemic in the sidebar.
General guidance for teaching
- When designing and conducting teaching, including counselling, supervision and examination, take into account that the time, space, technical and emotional resources of students may be limited. If applicable, also make clear your own personal constraints.
- Childcare hours in schools and daycare centres are not always reliable, particularly in the autumn and winter. Students with children are sometimes required to provide childcare and homeschooling parallel to their studies and have only limited time to spare.
- Students who care for relatives must deal with the lack or absence of outpatient nursing services or caregivers at any moment.
- Since the 2020 summer semester, many students have experienced financial difficulties due to the loss of side jobs, or there is a requirement for unpaid work in a family business.
- For trans* students, the use of digital tools poses an additional risk of discrimination, as many tools commonly used at the University of Göttingen do not yet offer the possibility to participate in courses with self-chosen names.
- Some students have experienced increased racial discrimination, e.g. racial profiling as a result of contact restriction measures.
- Especially International students are particularly affected because delays in their studies and financial difficulties can have consequences in terms of residence law. In addition, they may be dealing with language barriers, lack of access to an undisturbed workplace in their residence or lack of local social support networks.
- Some students with disabilities or chronic illnesses can benefit from digital teaching formats (e.g. time-independent usability), while for others this creates new barriers for attending courses or successfully completing studies and exams.
The use of online or digital formats may increase existing discrimination risks. Many risks can be minimized during the preparation of a course by good communication, arrangements and support as well as by dealing with the technology used. The following recommendations can help you to do this.
Recommendations1. Design asynchronous/flexible teaching & learning
3. Obtaining legal guidance
You will find the appropriate contacts in your faculty, in the Department of University Didactics, in the Department of Public Relations and in the Equal Opportunities and Diversity Office. For legal questions, please contact the Department of Law and Foundation (Abteilung Wissenschaftsrecht und Trägerstiftung). If you have a serious incident, please report it to the Emergency and Fault Reporting Centre at 39-1171.
Here is a presentation by the Department of Law and Foundation (Abteilung Wissenschaftsrecht und Trägerstiftung) with a focus on face-to-face classroom teaching: (Scope and Application of Domestic Law (Geltungsbereich und Anwendung des Hausrechts) (in German).
Answers to legal questions with respect to personal rights in images and audio recordings or data protection in Zoom (for students and teachers) can be found on the webpage of the Digital Learning and Teaching team. Please also note the paper „Einsatz von Videoconferencing in der Lehre und bei Gremien (Use of Videoconferencing in Teaching and Workgroups)“ (pdf, 08.05.2020, in German).
4. Options for reporting complaints and issues
5. Making good decisions on tools and comparing features
With the number of communication channels, however, the risk that they may be misused increases, e.g. by posting abusive messages in public or private chats, showing inappropriate images and symbols in avatars, in video backgrounds, on whiteboards or on shared screens, and making unauthorized recordings or screenshots (see below).
It is worthwhile to consider the opportunities and risks offered by each tool in advance and to adapt it to your own needs and resources.
- Angebot des Teams Digitales Lernen und Lehren zur virtuellen Lehre in Zeiten von Corona (in German)
- Tools (Digital Learning and Teaching)
Information on specific tools
- Information on Zoom (in German)
- Information on Big Blue Button (also: FAQ Big Blue Button, in German)
- Information on Rocket Chat
Dealing with disruptions
- Heinrich Böll Foundation Sachsen (27 April 2020): Ungestört - Tipps für digitale Bildung. Zum Umgang mit rechten Störungen bei Videokonferenz-Formaten, (Undisturbed – Tips for digital education. On how to deal with right-wing interference with video conferences), Interview with Peps Gutsche, Gegenargument (in German)
- Rewa, Jeanne (15 April 2020): Dealing with disruptors in Zoom online meetings or trainings
6. Dealing transparently with media and technology
Always make it clear which parts of a course are recorded and which are not. Recordings may only be made by teachers, and only if all of those who are recorded are informed about the recording and its use and have actively given their consent (this should be documented). This consent can be withdrawn at any time. Always proceed according to the principle of data minimization: Data that is not collected in the first place cannot be misused.
Detailed information and answers to legal questions with respect to personal rights in images and audio recordings or data protection in Zoom (for students and teachers) can be found on the webpage of the Digital Learning and Teaching team. Please also note the paper „Einsatz von Videoconferencing in der Lehre und bei Gremien (Use of Videoconferencing in Teaching and Workgroups)“ (pdf, 08.05.2020, in German).
7. Developing a „netiquette“ document or a Code of Conduct
8. Being approachable
9. Compensation for disadvantages, finding individual solutions
Make sure that students can make full use of the opportunities available to them without being forced to explain their situation publicly.
In order to enable all students to participate in your course, offer alternative forms of participation, fulfilling course requirements and consulting hours within the possibilities as defined by the regulations of your faculty. Bring these options to their attention proactively. Design teaching materials (documents, records, web offers ) (all in German) as barrier-free as possible (see below).
Look for individual solutions for those students with disabilities who do not have access to (student) assistants or interpreters. It is precisely these students that are under obligation from their funding agencies to show continuous progress in their studies.
10. Barrier-free design of learning materials
- The „‚Barrierefrei studieren‘. Hinweise für Lehrende zur Barrierefreiheit digitaler Lehre“ (‚Barrier-free studying‘. Information for lecturers on accessible digital) handbook is also available in English. Among other things, it includes the “Ten most important points at a glance”.
- The Barrier-free web design info web page (in German) outlines what you, as a user, need to bear in mind to ensure that your websites comply with the EU accessibility guidelines.
- The "Organising Sign Language Interpreting (DGS) for Events at the University of Göttingen" handbook (in German) offers comprehensive support for offering sign language interpretation
- Guidelines for designing barrier-free design of documents and presentations were developed by the University of Göttingen IT department as part of the Stifterverband’s “Vielfalt gestalten (designing diversity)” diversity audit (2016-2019) – all in German:
- Creating barrier-free documents in Word/ Erstellung barrierefreier Dokumente in Word (explanations and examples, checklist)
- Creating barrier-free pdf documents/ Erstellung barrierefreier pdf-Dokumente (explanations and examples, checklist)
- Creating barrier-free websites/ Erstellung barrierefreier Webseiten (explanations and examples, checklist)
- Creating barrier-free forms / Erstellung barrierefreier Formulare (explanations and examples, checklist)
- Creating barrier-free PowerPoint presentations/ Erstellung barrierefreier PowerPoint Präsentationen (checklist)
- Overview of the Barrier-free Information Technology Ordinance/ Barrierefreie-Informationstechnik-Verordnung (BITV)
Additional information and links
- In March 2020 the Competence Center for Digital Accessibility at the Stuttgart Media University was the first BITV-Test testing centre at a university to receive recognition. They offer a variety of high-quality information for different target audiences (teachers, web developers, administrative staff, external parties, all in German).
- • Dr. Maike Gattermann-Kasper (Representative for students with disabilities or chronic illnesses ) und Franziska Nitsche (Equal Opportunity Unit) of the University of Hamburg have developed a checklist for "Diversity-aware planning of digital events”(“Diversitätssensible Planung von digitalen Veranstaltungen”), (in German) .
- A web tutorial (in German) of the University of Rostock shows, how teaching materials in Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Acrobat Pro programs can be made barrier-free.
- e-teaching.org (Leibniz Institute für Wissensmedien) provides information about barrier-free e-learning (especially learning management system, examinations) in the context of didactic design(in German).
- Einfach für Alle, an offering of Aktion Mensch for a barrier-free internet, offers numerous articles and instructions for creating barrier-free documents, as well as for the conception, design & technology of barrier-free online materials (in German).
11. Consideration of limited space and technical resources
12. Exchange information and develop solutions together
And finally: Have the courage to be imperfect!
- Bittner, Melanie; Garske, Pia (2020): Gender-/ Diversitätsrreflexivität in der digitalen Lehre: Respektvolle Kommunikation fördern - Übergriffe vermeiden - Schwierige Situationen bewältigen (in German)
- Fox Barrett, Rebekka (2020): „Please do a bad job of putting your courses online“
- Heinke, Christian; Shnayien, Mary; Sprenger, Florian; Wippich, Uwe (2020): Lehre unter besonderen Bedingungen. Leitfaden zur temporären Umstellung der Lehre auf Online-Formate
- Heinrich Böll Stiftung Sachsen (27. April 2020): Ungestört - Tipps für digitale Bildung. Zum Umgang mit rechten Störungen bei Videokonferenz-Formaten, Interview mit Peps Gutsche, Gegenargument.
- Hunter, Daniel; Rewa, Jeanne (2020): Leading Groups Online. A down and dirty guide to leading online courses, meetings, trainings and events during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Reher, Friederike Jonah (2020). Didaktisch-konzeptionelle Empfehlungen für Online-Workshops in der Erwachsenenbildung. Eine praxisorientierte Handreichung. (pdf, in German). Arbeit und Leben / DGB/VHS Hamburg e.V. (Hg.).
- Rewa, Jeanne (15.04.2020): Dealing with disruptors in Zoom online meetings or trainings
- Training for Change (o.J.): Online Training Tools