It’s no secret that when it comes to digital transformation in education, Germany is lagging behind other countries. Although new technology is a permanent presence in everyday life, many schools lack not only equipment, but also digital ...
It’s no secret that when it comes to digital transformation in education, Germany is lagging behind other countries. Although new technology is a permanent presence in everyday life, many schools lack not only equipment, but also digital skills. The coronavirus crisis and the accompanying need for remote learning have demonstrated why we need to drive forward the digital transformation of education.
Why digital education is so important
Just as laptops and smartphones are part of everyday life for their parents, young people are encountering digital technologies at an increasingly earlier age. However, the obvious benefit of digital services often goes hand in hand with uncertainty, whether it’s related to algorithms or legal regulations. Teaching digital skills as part of the educational curriculum gives children and young people the knowledge they need to navigate the online world responsibly and autonomously. Having these skills will also boost their chances on the job market in the future.
Digital education: The challenges involved in implementing it
With stacks of printed paper, class registers, and homework books, the nearest schools tend to go digital is when the media cart is pushed into the classroom or a trip to the computer lab is scheduled in. In contrast, many students now bring their own devices – smartphones – with them into classes. Digital transformation in education isn’t just about optimizing day-to-day teaching, but also about making sure students learn a healthy approach to handling digital media. This presents many schools with significant challenges, for example:
Financing technical hardware: Equipping teaching staff and classrooms with laptops, tablets, and digital whiteboards is a hefty investment that requires support. High-quality Internet connections and powerful, stable Wi-Fi networks are also required to get the most out of digital lessons.
Training and continuing professional development for teachers: Staff need training from experts on how to use hardware and the appropriate educational software, and teachers also have to pass what they have learned on to their students. That all costs time, as well as money.
Implementing digital lessons: Although there are many different ways of translating teaching concepts into digital education in an online world – from learning platforms and apps to live-streaming lessons – they are sometimes perceived as being complicated and overly challenging.
Home schooling and remote learning: Not all students have a digital device at home that they can use to join digital lessons, so the risk of creating educational inequality is high. Other challenges inherent in remote teaching include technical issues and learning difficulties.
A range of measures have to be taken to optimize a school’s digital education curriculum. However, linking face-to-face teaching with digital learning materials is a challenge that educational institutions need to address in the long term, to make sure that children and young people are ready to face the future. Even before the coronavirus crisis began, the German government had launched its “DigitalPakt Schule” (“Digital Pact for Schools”) program to better equip schools for a digital future.
“DigitalPakt Schule” and the “Initiative Digitale Bildung” digital education initiative
In May 2019, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research presented its “DigitalPakt Schule” program, intended to support states, cities, and communities in implementing a digital education structure and ensuring that it becomes an up-to-date structure with nationwide coverage.
The initiative encompasses the delivery of digital education through
adapting curricula, and
redesigning teacher training and continuing professional development.
In addition to the “DigitalPakt Schule” program, the “Initiative Digitale Bildung” (“Initiative for Digital Education”) was launched in February 2021 to significantly boost digital education in German schools. The initiative has five specific fields of action:
Creating a digital educational system: This will link the teaching, acquisition, and further development of digital skills across all educational areas. Students and teachers should be able to easily access the diverse range of options on one platform.
Equipping learning facilities: STEM education will drive various funding and support programs as well as the provision of the secure “Schul-Cloud” (“school cloud”) learning infrastructure featuring a broad range of content and instruction in digital skills.
Equipping teachers with skills: Various initiatives will give teachers the skills and concepts that relate to digital teaching.
Providing up-to-date content, methods, and tools: The “Initiative Digitale Bildung” will ensure that learning content is digitalized and that tools are provided to facilitate digital learning.
Gathering evidence and scientific bases: The impact of the digital transformation as well as the development and testing of digital concepts within the education system will be researched and analyzed.
Optimizing individual learning processes using state-of-the-art technologies: What are the challenges and benefits of personalized learning and what should future-oriented education look like? We explored the digital learning concept.
New technologies are also driving education forward. Online tools such as e-learning platforms enable learners to digitally further their knowledge in preparation for the future. Here, we present the 5 most useful e-learning platforms.
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