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Understanding Europe Together!

Hybrid teaching for students from Cologne and Turku (Finland)

Living and teaching European culture together was the aim of the awarded project of the colleagues of the International Mobility Department in cooperation with the Schiller Gymnasium Cologne and the partner school ‘Puolalanmäen lukio’ – by Katrin Kaiser and Brit Sperber-Fels


The Idea

The project ‘university students meet schools@europe’ in the International Mobility Department belonging to the Division of International Affairs of the University of Cologne was officially given an award in the context of this year's call for proposals for European Week 2023 of the state of NRW under the slogan ‘EUpdate – Life and Learning in Europe’. In cooperation with the Schiller Gymnasium Cologne, the partner school ‘Puolalanmäen lukio’ in Turku, Finland, the city of Cologne and Deutsch-Finnische Gesellschaft in Köln e.V. (German-Finnish Society in Cologne e.V.), the project took place in May 2023.

Our award-winning project proposal was based on involving teacher training students who had gained teaching experience in schools in other European countries as part of the internships@schoolsabroad programme - a joint project led by the International Mobility Department and the Center of Teacher Education - in order to be able to pass on their experiences to students. Teacher training students were approached, who had already gained practical teaching experience abroad, e.g. at the partner school Puolalanmäen lukio in Turku. They were invited to talk to the students of the Schiller Gymnasium about their experiences abroad. This resulted in a hybrid lesson in which the students of the partner school ‘Puolalanmäen lukio’ participated via video conference.


The Realisation

The teacher training student Maite Küpper was selected for the hybrid classes at the Schiller Gymnasium because of her versatile experience abroad. She had already had a lively exchange with the headmaster and class teacher Georg Scheferhoff in the run-up to the event. She has been observing the class of the Schiller Gymnasium as a trainee teacher and has also been able to interview the students of ‘Puolalanmäen lukio’, who were already in Cologne for week at the end of April as part of the student exchange. During this exchange, the first talks with the teachers involved were already held to prepare the planned joint hybrid lesson on 22 May 2023, which was then to be accompanied by professional filming.

Maite Küpper designed the lesson together with the class teacher. Of course they paid particular attention to the hybrid format and to the issue of digital transformation and Europe. She managed to integrate both classes into her teaching concept in a meaningful way, using, for example, survey tools that made the students’ answers visible to everyone on the screen.

The two classes were asked the following questions:

  • Europe & Education – what buzzwords can you think of on these topics?
  • How do you feel about the teaching and school life in Finland / Germany?
  • What are the biggest differences or similarities between German and Finnish teaching?
  • Does Europe or European issues play a role in your school lessons?
  • How could the cohesion of European countries be strengthened in the context of schools?


This video gives more insight into the project - it is only available with German audio.

The Conclusion

Our project has provided German and Finnish students with an insight into the variety of (online) teaching formats and has also provided them with an insight into the different European cultures and ways of life in neighbouring European countries. The willingness of the students to put themselves in the German and Finnish culture respectively and the mentality of the European area was strengthened and promoted by the project. The students have become aware that only through exchange can a greater understanding of the European neighbourhood and its diversity be created. The partnership between the Schiller Gymnasium and the ‘Puolalanmäen lukio’ is a vivid, functioning example for this.

Prospective teachers got to know different teaching perspectives and methods in comparison. Openness toward online teaching concepts has been promoted, while at the same time these hybrid experiences can prepare for the variety in future classrooms. The project has once again made clear how not only international key competences and sociocultural awareness of pupils can be promoted to a high degree, but also how these competences of students and prospective teachers can be expanded.

Achieving this key competence in the course of studies is essential and can be achieved, for example, through exchanges within the Erasmus+ programme or programmes such as internships@schoolsabroad. In view of the changing requirements for teacher training in the course of globalization, heterogeneity and diversity, the acquisition of these competences is an important and essential qualification to become professional in working life. Thus, this project has been an excellent opportunity for the students in Cologne and virtually in Turku to get to know the teaching profession in its different forms in Germany and Finland.

The successful cooperation between the various participants – school and university policy institutions, the city of Cologne and civil society – makes an important contribution to the international competencies and digital literacy of the pupils, the participating students and, of course, the teachers; it also promotes comprehensive European awareness. As a result of this valuable experience, we are also pleased to integrate further school exchange projects and internships with schools and institutions of other city partnerships – especially with digital tools – into our work, create synergy effects and continue to deepen existing cooperations in the long term.


The project "university students meet schools@europe" was funded by the Minister for Federal and European Affairs, International Affairs and Media and Head of the State Chancellery.