Serlo: Pedagogical media prize awarded for innovative learning platform
Young refugees practice reading and writing with new literacy app or study with Serlo's online content.
January 2018. Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, the Serlo Lab School in Munich opens its doors to students from the neighborhood. Experienced educators and students from education degree programs are offering free math tutoring. Highschool students come to study and practice topics that remained unclear during class. Young refugees use the opportunity to catch up on topics that were not covered in their schools back home or that they missed due to their flight. The students are practicing with Google Chromebooks and online content and exercises from the learning platform Serlo.org. Simon Köhl, one of the two founders of Serlo, explains: "Our learning companions show the students how to use the Internet to find answers to their questions on their own."
In November, Serlo’s learning platform received the Pedagogical Media Prize 2017 of the non-profit "SIN - Studio im Netz". This prize has been awarded for 20 years to digital products with special pedagogical value for children and teenagers. "We want to show children that learning can be fun," says Simon Köhl. Together with Aeneas Rekkas, he founded the Serlo learning platform and later the non-profit Serlo Education. With the online platform they hope to make education accessible to more people - regardless of financial and social background. The content currently focuses on math and biology. Topics are arranged according to class levels. The young creators of the website describe the learning platform with a wink as the "Wikipedia for learning".
In the Serlo Lab Schools, students work with learning videos and practice with sample solutions from the learning platform so they can learn independently. The content is free and accessible to everyone - including those who are not attending Serlo Lab School. Young refugees can easily fill gaps in their education with the offered online exercises. All they need is a computer and internet access. At the Serlo Lab Schools, every child gets his own laptop to work on: a Google Chromebook.
In cooperation with some public schools, Serlo arranged the Lab Schools directly in the school, integrated in math lessons. In some social institutions, the Serlo Lab Schools are part of children’s program for the afternoon. It is important that the learning group remains small. The students not only search the Internet for answers to their questions, they also help each other and thus strengthen their self-confidence, learn consideration and cooperation.
The Serlo team has recently released the literacy app Serlo ABC, with offers exercises to practice the alphabet and very basic reading and writing skills. The Android app Serlo ABC can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store and used for independent study or to compliment classes. The app was designed with the needs of refugees in mind. Simon Köhl emphasizes: "Language skills are key to integrate successfully into a society."
Post by Theresa Ritzer, NetHope - Project Reconnect, and Sybille Fleischmann, Project Lead, NetHope - Project Reconnect