Teachers see digitalization in schools as mixed

01/20/2024 05:00 (current 01/20/2024 05:00)

Light and shadow in school digitalization ©APA/ROLAND SCHLAGER

In June 2020, after schools were suddenly faced with distance learning with all its practical problems due to the corona pandemic, the then black-green federal government announced its eight-point plan for digitalization. Three and a half years later, from the teachers' union's perspective, there is still room for improvements in practice with the “digitalization reform” announced at the time.

After initial delivery problems in previous academic years, the distribution of inexpensive laptops and tablets to first-year secondary and secondary school students is now well established. In the third year of the devices initiative, most teachers now have a device at their disposal – even if it technically belongs to the class and also has to be used as a replacement device if students' laptops or tablets need to be repaired or replaced . says David Hiegelsberger (FCG), digitalization specialist at the compulsory education teachers' union, in conversation with APA.

Digital devices are also used in classes, although less frequently than during the peak phase of the corona pandemic. If the use “does not bring any benefit in terms of time or pedagogy”, Hiegelsberger summarizes the feedback. AHS teacher representative Herbert Weiß (FCG) sees this development as positive. “In any case, you need to approach digitalization with moderation and purpose, otherwise other important things will be lost.”

Marcus Dekan, from the Federal Parents Association, also believes that the quality of use has “increased significantly”. In the beginning there were many “pseudo campaigns” where devices were simply used pro forma. “Now they are used in a much more targeted and appropriate way.”

According to Hiegelsberger, schools' progress in digitalization has less to do with the eight-point plan than with the corona pandemic. At that time – without guidance, information or recommendations from above – a lot of things developed in the places where we could then build. The track record of the other offers included in the eight-point plan is mixed for Hiegelsberger. Digital teacher training through “Massive Open Online Courses” (MOOCs), for example, works in principle, but in his opinion the topics often ignore the needs of teaching staff. Eduthek, where teachers can find in-depth practical materials for all teaching subjects, is actually a collection of links to external websites that expert teachers are already familiar with.

There is still a lot to be updated when it comes to basic IT equipment in schools. There is almost no problem anymore with schools not having broadband internet – all federal school locations (AHS, BMHS) should be connected by the end of 2023 and, according to Weiß, a lot has already been done here. However, according to feedback from school management and teachers, there are still often problems with the structure of the school building, says Hiegelsberger – for example, there are access points in classes so that 25 young people can use data-intensive applications. at the same time. The result is that students cannot always use their laptops and tablets appropriately in class. Municipalities are responsible for this infrastructure in mandatory schools, and the federal government in AHS and BMHS.

According to Hiegelsberger, the Escola Digital portal is not in fact used in the compulsory education sector. It simply brings “no benefit” to compulsory schools. The rush was also limited in federal schools. Overall, the platform, which is intended to bring together diverse applications for students, teachers and guardians, was used by just 380,000 of the 1.1 million students and 32,000 of the 120,000 teachers in three years, said the head of Ministry of Education Martin Netzer recently said “Krone” quotes.