vhs-Lernportal is a free online learning program for German as a second language, literacy education and basic skills training. It was developed by the German Adult Education Association (DVV) and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The portal can be used in classrooms as a complementary tool and is well suited for implementing blended learning formats. Learners can also use it independently from a course.
Image 2: Optimized for the smartphone: The vhs-learning portal can be used on all device types, via app also offline. © Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband e.V. , Bonn, Illustration: Trickstudio Lutterbeck GmbH.
The portal is designed for an easy use of both learners and teachers, even with poor technical equipment in the educational institution. It is optimised for use on smartphones and small screens. Learners can bring their devices to the classroom and continue learning at home or on the go. The corresponding smartphone application can be used without internet connection. User statistics show that this is the right approach: the majority of users access the learning portal via smartphone.
"We work with the mobile phone and not with the computer, because some of my participants have never worked with a computer and do not have one at home. Since I want them to learn at home with the vhs-learning portal, the mobile phone was the most suitable option for me" - Maria Lafuente Seiter, teacher at Volkshochschule Bingen
For second language learners, menu navigation and user interface have been translated into 18 languages. In the literacy courses all information is also available as audio text.
Image 3: Automatic correction: Learners see immediately the correct solution of the exercise. © Bildungsfilm, Berlin
The mobile solution and easy access help to foster learner autonomy. The smartphone as the most important tool for a short learning unit – e.g. while commuting or at night before going to sleep - is always at hand and ready-to-use.
"I always have my cell phone with me wherever I go. In the train, in the car - whenever I have a little time, I can learn and repeat. I think that's very good" - Kateryna Reshetnova, participant of an integration course
Fast feedback and support during the learning process
In the majority of exercises, learners receive immediate automatic feedback from the program and see the correct answer. This gives them confidence and motivation. In the literacy course, an algorithm supports the learning process: depending on the type and number of mistakes, the learner is provided with the appropriate exercises, facilitating individual, independent learning.
All learners are accompanied by a tutor who corrects texts, gives feedback, advises and motivates. In presence-based or blended learning courses, the teacher can take up the role of a tutor and thus also supervise the learners online: the teacher can monitor activities and progress of the learners, assign exercises and motivate with feedback.
"Our teacher gets all the written exercises directly on her account and then she sends us corrections and marks the difficult points. She can also select special exercises for us. For example, I have difficulties with declination. She then chooses in a lesson exactly the exercises that fit me. That's very helpful" - Laëtitia Vétéran, participant in a blended learning course for German as a second language
Learners who learn independently are accompanied by tutors provided by the DVV. Tutors give feedback on the learning progress, they correct, comment, give advice on learning and answer questions. Each learner has a personal tutor with whom learners can build a relationship over time, which increases learners’ commitment to learning.
Image 4: Participants bring their own devices to class. This makes digital learning possible even with limited technical infrastructure. © Bildungsfilm, Berlin
Many teachers still struggle with the use of digital media in class. DVV offers professional trainings that deal with functionalities and didactics. In the last 12 months alone, more than 600 teachers have attended the trainings, which focus on using the vhs-Lernportal and adapting its functionalities for educational needs and targets.