Five billion euros, that sounds like a lot of money that has made the federal government for the digitization of schools loose. In addition there are the investments of the respective federal states. But that’s just a drop in the bucket – those who need to know it. If you count down the money to the individual schools, there is just enough space left per institution to advance basic digital processes and technical equipment.
Uwe Bettscheider, headmaster of the Ritzefeld-Gymnasium of the city of Stolberg in North Rhine-Westphalia, regards the digital pact as “start-up funding”: “The user must understand that IT is a permanent task.” The hardware and software that was purchased for the school must professionally maintained and brought up to date again and again, also for security reasons. “
No company can create digital devices for 1000 employees without IT support. “But in schools, teachers without specialized training have been neglecting IT support for decades, even if it hurts financially: Schools need the support of IT professionals if they upgrade their technology accordingly.”
“The technique enriches the teaching methodically strong.The type of teaching will not change.”
At his grammar school, Bettscheider has already pushed ahead with digitization and acquired a cloud platform for teachers and students as well as whiteboards and tablets. The start-up AixConcept provides – and supports – the cooperation platform for students and teachers with a learning management system from the cloud. Bettscheider wants to improve the interaction between student and teacher. “For example, a student lying in bed at home with a broken leg can follow the board on the computer or smartphone in his room.”
In addition, students can use the cloud to interactively solve tasks and make their work available to classmates in a group work. Gradually Bettscheider wants to equip all classrooms with whiteboards, tablets and digital measuring instruments for science subjects. He thinks that in the future students will not have to lug around schoolbooks any more. “The technology enriches the teaching methodically strong.The type of teaching will not change,” says the headmaster on the digitization in schools.
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For example, students with VR glasses in the subject of history could marvel at ancient Rome, for example, or confidently follow dangerous or elaborate experiments in chemistry lessons. In other scientific subjects, such as physics or mathematics, 3D models can be used.
But digitization will also leave its mark on teaching content: “With the emergence of digital opportunities and new thematic areas, the concept of general education has to be rethought.” This new digital reality has to be addressed at school – otherwise others will take on this task “, warns Bettscheider.
Sarah Henkelmann, spokeswoman for the Digital Education Network, sees a mammoth task in the big changes facing schools: “At the moment, educational institutions have to deal with inclusion, integration and digitization, plus a wealth of content to convey them The syllabuses purify and ask: what else is relevant? Digitization should become a cross-cutting issue in every subject. ”
No digitization without the right infrastructure
But far from that, the debate on how to make students fit for the world of tomorrow is far from over. Because there is an urgent basic problem: “If the Internet connection is running, then everything runs,” says Bettscheider, but that does not always work, as many German schools do, says Henkelmann. “Although every student now has his own device and could use browser-based technology Applications access learning content. But too often it still lacks the missing network infrastructure. ”
According to a poll conducted by the polling institute Forsa on behalf of the Association for Education and Vocational Training (VBE) this spring, only one out of every three schools in all classrooms and rooms has access to fast Internet and Wi-Fi. In Eastern Europe, one is already much further, says Henkelmann.
But how far should the schools be digitized? Is not there a risk that the students paddling on the phone instead of taking care? Henkelmann understands this criticism: “When it comes to equipment, the big question remains: Does every student really need a computer? What added value does that have?”
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A question that headmasters have to face throughout the country. Bettscheider knows what he does not want: Edutainment, the playful transfer of knowledge through television or computer programs is not suitable for general school education because of the necessary development effort and adaptation to given curricula, he says. “The study by John Hattie also shows that teachers have the biggest impact on learning, so the computer can only be motivation and tools.”
And teachers will play the most important role in digitization. According to Henkelmann, with the teachers, “the success of digitizing the school will stand and fall”. But teachers can barely bring students into the digital age if left alone. “That’s why you have to invest in teacher training so they can understand and communicate digitalization, otherwise it’s like giving someone a car that does not have a driver’s license.”
Teachers rate their equipment as “satisfactory”
If you ask the teachers themselves, these digital innovations are quite open-minded, but the digital pact and the real conditions on the ground rather poor grades: According to a survey by the IT Association Bitkom almost all the teachers surveyed believe that the schools in Germany lag behind in digitization in international comparison. The technical prerequisites of their own school therefore rate the teachers on a grading scale as “satisfactory” (3,3).
Almost all the teachers surveyed believe that the announced funding of the Digital Pact is insufficient. More than half stated that they would like to use digital technology more often. However, they fail due to missing devices (58 percent), lack of pedagogical concepts (13 percent) or their own digital knowledge (12 percent). Many are also afraid that the technology will fail during class.
This shows that the implementation of the Digital Pact will not only focus on the equipment, but also on the education and training of teachers and on a media development plan – “in which the use of technology is determined in a didactically sound manner,” explains Henkelmann. She proposes sustainable planning: “If you put schools into new technologies tomorrow and then stop working on them, that will not work, and it would be worth starting out step by step to expand your network infrastructure and equipment. That way the entire staff and the strategy can grow along with new work material and training cultures – so that we can all take along. ”
“Our school system is uniform and (…) geared towards industrialization.”
Bettscheider finds the digital pact basically good. “But I hope the local authorities will not think that the issue has been dealt with, it will have to be funded in the long term, and the money will not help, for example, if there is no sensible media concept at the school and the computers in the corner stand.” Henkelmann also sees it this way: “If the teacher is overwhelmed with smartboards, then they end up in the corner.”
Although the Digital Pact is designed for a five-year term, Henkelmann sees this as the beginning of a development process that will take 15 to 20 years: “It’s about educating entire generations in this country, politics has seen that. because it has not been invested for decades. ”
In their opinion, the school system needs to be changed even more fundamentally: “Our school system is uniform and has not been changed for decades – it dates back to Emperor’s time and is geared towards industrialization, but industrialization is completed, and digitalisation is much more important now and service – we train for a world that no longer exists Pupils need to learn critical thinking and ethics, they need to know what rights they have, and many graduate from school without having a digital foundation – that needs to change In every job you work today with digital tools – even a gardener needs to be able to plan on the laptop – we have to bravely start into the digital age. ”
“Schools need a ‘State of the Art’ access to the digital world – politics and administration must recognize that this is a permanent task – the IT world is turning faster than that of politics and administration,” summarizes Bettscheider.
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