It may be a cliché, but it still applies: in every crisis, important insights are revealed and new opportunities arise. As an IT security specialist and father, I was particularly fascinated and sobered by the use of digital technologies by schools in the current Corona situation. Here there has been a dramatic acceleration of developments and many things are suddenly possible that previously seemed unimaginable. The pressure situation of the Corona crisis also clearly showed where there is a lack of knowledge, processes and material.
Fortunately, the Digital Pact announced in early 2019 gives schools the means to put the lessons of the current situation into practice. It can still prove to be an advantage that, according to the Bitkom digital association, the federal states have so far only called up a fraction of the five and a half billion euros that are available under the pact.
Anyway, the digital pact should be improved. A simple arithmetic problem shows that this is necessary: If you divide the five and a half billion euros by the 47,000 general and vocational schools in Germany, the result is around 117,000 euros per school. With this money every teacher and every student should be equipped with the necessary hardware and the necessary infrastructure created. And the funds from the digital pact only cover hardware costs. At the moment, however, there are not the greatest problems here. These are more likely to be seen in the software, the level of knowledge and the responsibilities.
First of all, the current situation has clearly shown that digitization in schools is not doing well. From my own environment I can report that the current boom in digital teaching would certainly not be possible without the private IT equipment of teachers, parents and students. Objective data confirm this impression. In April, for example, the Statista Research Department published an overview of the digital equipment in schools, including the results of a survey in 2019. In the survey, less than 40 percent of the school principals surveyed said they had access to fast internet and WiFi in their schools . Accordingly, pupils rate the digital equipment in schools with an average grade of 4.
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Since education in Germany is the responsibility of the federal states, the lack of digitization varies from region to region. Interestingly, as of March 13, 2020, the comparatively small Hamburg had approved by far the largest amount of funding. Nowhere were schools prepared for the current dependence on digital technology in teaching. That leads to improvisation everywhere. Parents want their children to be optimally cared for during these times and let the teachers feel this emphatically.
They should be able to find out about the correct procedure from the minister of education and the data protection officer. In practice, they are left alone and usually know how to help themselves somehow. However, the consideration of guidelines, security rules and measures to protect privacy often falls by the wayside. How many teachers use their private laptop in the absence of what their employer has to offer? What about data protection on these devices? Are the teachers themselves responsible and trained accordingly?
This continues with the provision of teaching materials. To make these available to their students, teachers copy and distribute long passages from textbooks and, in some cases, entire solution books. Often it is a clear violation of applicable copyright laws. Now teachers don’t have one foot in jail. However, copyright infringement is not a trivial offense. It is therefore desirable to make the relevant school books digitally available to teachers and to support them in dealing with digital media. There is also a lack of guidelines as to which textbook publisher and which digital offer – especially from an educational point of view – are recommended by the education authority. Here, too, the teachers are often left to their own devices.