3. HOW? Important principles of a BLENDED REMOTE Internship

3.1 Didactic principles in a blended learning environment:

3.1.1 Definition

Instead of the common definition "combination of face-to-face and online learning", a different criterion of demarcation should be used for definition: The combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning and working. If new tasks are mastered during the internship, the internship work and learning during the internship coincide.

 This reading creates greater flexibility for the entire blended learning concept. Accordingly, face-to-face events are no longer absolutely necessary.

Face-to-face events are therefore no longer absolutely necessary, but enrich a blended remote internship through personal encounters.

The question of which presence phases a blended remote internship should have is already one of the open design questions that those who want to offer internships have to answer. That is also what the rest of the guide will be about.

3.1.2 Didactic concept Openness of the blending learning concept:

a.) Online elements before face-to-face learning, e.g.:

b.) Online elements after face-to-face learning, e.g.:

c.) Online elements interacting with face-to-face learning:

The unanimous opinion is that the respective online-offline share is not so important. More crucial is the pedagogical design, pacing and sequencing of activities with the aim of creating a coherent learning experience.

The following premise should be taken into account:  

"Blended learning arrangements require much higher competencies from learners than is the case in traditional learning environments. Learners have been used to leaving the control of learning processes to teachers since childhood. They must design many functions themselves that were previously controlled and monitored by the teachers.“
Bernd Gössling The right didactic concepts

The right didactic concepts depend on the following considerations:

Questions that go hand in hand with this:

a.) Strategic connection:

  • Linking the internships to company goals
  • Comparison of the target groups with the corresponding requirements

b.) Analysis of the target group:

  • Who is the learning offer aimed at? (Number of people, gender, age, regional distribution, mobility, access to media, previous experience, previous knowledge).
  • Prior knowledge of e-learning and digital media
  • Main interests, motivation
  • Subjects/modules and practical relevance

c.) Analysis of the infrastructure:

  • Premises
  • Availability of tools and learning platforms
  • Technical and (media) didactic support for online offerings

d.) Analysis of the initial situation:

  • Qualification, content-related competence orientation and focus
  • Possibility of integrating further support structures (e.g. e-tutor programme)
  • Time capacity and the expected workload

e.) Analysis of the project objectives:

  • What is hoped for with the use of media?
    • Increasing effectiveness/efficiency
    • Increasing flexibility
    • didactic innovation
    • new forms of learning
    • interlocking of knowledge transfer and knowledge management

f.) Analysis of learning organisation, content and objectives:

  • Which contents are to be conveyed with which goal?
    • Declarative knowledge
    • Procedural knowledge
    • Contextual knowledge
  • Structure/method: How should the offer be didactically prepared?
  • Learning organization: How should the course be organized?

On the basis of this: Preparation of course concepts with course content, literature references and overarching learning objectives. This can look like this, for example: Possible Course Concepts - Blended Learning:

Course Concepts
  • Flipped Classroom: Theory is taught asynchronously via interactive presentations, videos and tests. Subsequent application synchronously
  • Group puzzle: Each group member is given the task of working individually on a specific part of an overall topic online. Afterwards, each group member reports to their group in presence what they have learned.
  • Learning tandems: Learners come together in groups of 2 or 3 and work together on their learning process. They exchange online learning content in presence and help each other.
  • Problem based learning: Imitate problematic situations with online simulations. Discuss the experience in presence.
  • Taboo: Give a presentation on a topic relevant to the internship using online presentations and lashcards.

3.2 The limits of Blended Remote Internships or Blended Remote Work

An internship in an IT company where Remote Work is standard and there are well thought out work processes to go with it, it is a wonderful opportunity for young professionals to get to know a new and very promising working world.

A company that has little experience or has not yet been able to adapt its process to the remote environment will find it very difficult to integrate an entry-level employee. This leads to frustration on both sides.

“So if remote work is an emergency solution, e.g. for a limited time, but the actual work, which one should get to know through an internship, is structured differently, then I get to know the emergency solution and not the reality.”
Bernd Gössling

As mentioned above, presence phases for software development have a long tradition in open source culture. Anyone who has ever been to a sprint or hackathon knows the great joy when the developers can embrace each other at the welcome. Friendship - community - family. This familial atmosphere is not only important for the cohesion of communities but also for the team building of remote companies. It is undeniable that newcomers to the profession should experience this.

There is a deficit in the social component. In the office, spontaneous conversations often take place while drinking coffee, fetching water, etc. These natural conversations fall away remotely. Here, internal chat rooms or virtual hangouts can be created to aid integration. This, however, can be difficult if you have never seen any of your colleagues IRL. 

3.3 Communicating the philosophy of free and open source software and the responsibility of being a software developer

Many people associate free and open source software with programmes that can be used free of charge. Young people are often familiar with the term community, but very few associate it with open source. The cliché of the nerd obscures the diversity and culture of open communication in open source communities. What makes open source strong is not isolation but the community of developers. Digital communication tools are used to connect with each other across the borders of countries, cultures and continents, to exchange knowledge and to create something together.

It is important to introduce interns to open and helpful communities and to show them the colourful world of people behind the software. 
To appeal to more women and girls, it is important to show that communication, community and collaboration are an essential part of software development. The work of a software developer is not lonely and you are not on your own. 

You do not create software for yourself or for the machines, but rather it has a manyfold benefit for people.

"Code that programmers write does not exist in a vacuum. Software ... always relates to people,..."
Peter Purgathofer, TU Wien

The culture of the open source community and the sense of responsibility as a software developer for society must be conveyed during the internship.