The course scenario offered in Germany

In Germany, the course curriculum developed was based on bringing together elements of biographical work, media and art education in order to support a subject-oriented, practice based reflection and sensory perception of the digital media culture pupils deal with every day. Part of the development team was a professional photographer (Fabian Kirscht); project researcher: Dr. Daniela Reimann. The project was linked to university seminars held in 2015-2016.

Target group

The course scenario developed was tested with a class of young people, age 16-20, enrolled in the official one-year pre-vocational training program entitled “work preparation dual” (Arbeitsvorbereitung AV_dual) at the public vocational school ‘Gewerbeschule Durlach’ (teacher Thomas Uhl). The program’s title ‘AV dual’ refers to the German dual system of vocational education, which links the learning venues of the vocational school to the work at the company at the vocational school. 11 pupils took part in the project[1]. The target group of AV dual (work preparation dual) pupils is encouraged to attend school and work in a company weekly, in the framework of an internship, in order for the pupils to get contacts to the employers and for the employers to test the capabilities and competences and attitudes towards work the individual pupils brings with him/her.

The scenario consisted of 5 thematic blocks, derived from the defined 12 units developed in the beginning of the course curriculum design. Those included the introduction to the project and to the team and getting to know each other, the visual internet search the introduction to digital biographical narratives in the form of performed photo interviews, translated as Foto-Ich-Geschichte/Wortloses Interview). Each group of student was responsible for the planning and teaching of one block. Team teaching was realized. The other students were in charge of mentoring the pupils.


Didactic approach and pedagogical methods

‘Biographying’, introduced as a verb, refers to the process of dealing with one’s past. In the German context, is both an issue in general pedagogy as well as in German art education and teacher training (Seydel 2005). It means to take the individual biography as starting point for learning, using the personal history as a driver for learning and design processes.

The process of ‘aesthetic biographing’ of German art education is based on the didactic concept of ‘aesthetic research’ (“Ästhetische Forschung”) introduced by Kämpf-Jansen (2000). It includes visual methods of research undertaken in daily surroundings of visual (media) culture (Alltagsästhetik, Visuelle Kultur). Biographing is identified to be a process of researching one’s own history. It means to use life as material, that is, the episodes and experiences made are used for reflection and learning, towards the shaping of individual future perspectives. Is about visualizing phases of one‘s biography, using different kinds of materials, collections, media and memorabilia, e.g. in aesthetic research (a didactic concept in German art education by Kämpf-Jansen, 2010). As Pazzini had put it quite to the point, „Bio [one’s biography] has to be drawn, documented, sketched or written in the first place“ („Bio muss erst grafiert werden“ Pazzini, 2002), because life does not coin, or make any stamps or shapes by itself.

A constructivist, learner-driven, project-oriented and practice-based approach to learning in groups mentored by students was initiated. Team teaching was realized. The focus on strengthening the sensual perception of pupils was included by collecting, analyzing and reflecting visual materials.

The lesson plans were developed and discussed in the framework of the university seminar. KIT students worked in 5 thematic groups, each group was responsible for one of the following blocks of classroom lessons.

  1. Introduction to the project and getting to know each other using ice breaker games;
  2. A visual research of the digitaEl presence,
  3. Introduction of the speechless photo interview and
  4. Photo production day and Platform my training for;
  5. Presentation of results and exhibition, and reflection including the evaluation group interview

Those blocs are described below. The German workshop scenario was developed in a participatory process in the team. It included 5 blocks of classroom sessions, combining the following topics and learning contents, carried out in the classroom.

0. Introduction to the topic and to the team, to get to know each other as well as the aims of the school project.

  1. A visual Net research: The pupils were given a visual research task, in order to make them research their neighbor’s image on the Web and to find out whether the searched person was aware about the found material as well as the image presented online. The issue of self/digital identity reflection was put in the center of the afterwards discussion: My Digital Self, addressing questions such as: How do I look/appear on the Web? How am I represented on the Web? Do I like that? Is that how I want or present myself? How do I want to appear online, for which target group.Initiating the process: A) The visual c research task (in groups: ‘google your friend’ and collect the materials found,”) and B) collect at least 3 photos/materials, C) Present the found materials (online/offline), e.g. make a collage on the wall. How do I want to look/appear? / on the Web? (for myself, for my peers, for employers)
  2. The introduction of biographical narrative (translated as “Foto-Ich-Geschichte”) is introduced. Pupils were asked to bring an object or a photo of something representing themselves. The meaningful      objects and images were discussed in the group.
  3. Pupils were asked to bring objects and photos from home which they feel represents themselves. This part aimed to initiated processes of self-image, self-concept and presentation, using haptic materials and visuals describing them.
  4. A performed photo–interview without spoken words is introduced. The approach links photography to storytelling and performing answers with the body (rather than using spoken or written language) in the framework of an interview. The digital version is uploaded on the platform at the end of the classroom sessions. and so called ‘speechless’ interview (without spoken words) about each pupil will be initiated I accompanied by a student mentor, pupils answer questions about themselves, only using body expression, gestures, mimic, and requisites they bring or develop, which is then photographed by them (e.g. they bring objects or images of themselves or meaningful to them. Every participant gets a printed version (“photo book”) including a little intro text about themselves (“About me”) supporting authorship at the end of the workshops (A4 format), for the presentation, presumably a poster (A0) will be printed. A photographer was involved in the project as well, to show an insight in his profession. The result is a biographical photo story including photos, that is, one photo as the answer related to the question, related to the following interview questions related to their individual strengths, hobbies, idols and interests:

1.Was is my main strength? / my “gold”

2.What is your favorite activity?

3.What is your idol (I wanted to be like him/her)

4.About what would you like to know more?

Also each pupil wrote a text ‘about me’ and identified a meaningful motto for his/her life. After a session of finding out and identifying their own strengths, a session of group work mentored by the students was introduced. Pupils were then asked to think about how to represent and perform their answers in front of the camera. All pupils were asked to perform the answers with their body, gestures and requisites chosen or developed (e.g. sings out of paper). Afterwards, they selected from the variety of photos taken, and performed according to the following questions: What photos to choose to support my project/biographical narrative best? After the photo production the issue of the Online multimedia platform ‘my training for’ was on: How can we use it, where can we add a profile?

5.Presentation, of results and exhibition, and reflection including the evaluation group interview


[1] The number of participants is not equal to the number of enrolled pupils as they have to do internships and test working phases in companies which might offer them a job or apprenticeship.

Dr. Daniela Reimann, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Evaluation summary

A qualitative approach based on qualitative interviews with the social actors involved (pupils, teacher, students, photographer), observation of lessons / video tape of lessons. The main research interest was related to the question of how the participants and social actors perceived the course held.


  • Positive perception of the project by the social actors involved:
    Indicators of success identified:

    • high presence of the pupils
    • high motivation of the pupils
    • high concentration of the pupils during working on the tasks
    • level of shaping the project (composition (“Gestaltung”)/design orientation)
    • Experience level for the pupils (“experience in front of the camera as a special moment remains”)
    • Holistic approach (including different senses)

-> The performed interview will be continued at the school with different pre-VET classes by the teachers

Lessons learned

  • The contents and taks to develop biographical narratives worked well with the pupils
  • Pupils enjoyed it and stressed the point that they perceived the course not as ‚the usual class‘
  • The pupils perceived the course as tailor-made for them („it was specialized in us“)
  • The pupils appreciated the university students’ support very much -> make them feel valuable
  • Critical issues were perceived at the organisational level: extension of time frame to be able to work more intense on each thematic bloc
  • swing from simply using a resource (platform) for uploading media towards the visualizisation of reflections /digital biographical narratives


Examples of biographical narratives developed by the pupils

In the following, you will find some more photos of the learning processes. For reasons of data security, censor bars were added in some cases.