The digital transformation is not stopping at the education sector either. Classical teaching models are starting to falter. The future demands new concepts, a different understanding of teachers’ roles and, above all, a good technical infrastructure. Schools in Germany have to meet the new requirements that digital change brings with it. The Grand Coalition, the Greens and the FDP have therefore agreed on the so-called “DigitalPact School”.
According to the digitisation strategy, the federal government should be allowed to invest up to five billion euros in digital learning at schools. With the approval of the parties mentioned, the necessary two-thirds majority in parliament for an amendment of the German constitution has now been achieved. It now reads as follows:
“In order to ensure the quality and efficiency of the education system, the federal government can grant the federal states financial assistance for investments of significance for the state as a whole as well as the special direct costs associated with these for the federal states and municipalities (associations of municipalities) in the area of municipal education infrastructure. Article 104b paragraph 2 sentences 1 to 5 and paragraph 3 shall apply mutatis mutandis.”</block quota>
The DigitalPact now allows the federal government to channel funds into the federal states and municipalities in order to expand not only the technological infrastructure but also the school staff. So far, education has been a matter for the federal states only. In return, the federal states undertake to contribute at least ten percent of their own funds.
Digitalisation in schools: laptops, notebooks and tablets
An instrument for digital change and the introduction of new technologies in teaching are laptops, notebooks and tablets, which make digital and interactive teaching possible in the first place. For many schools, this has been the biggest hurdle so far for using technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality or Chatbots in the classroom. The Internet connection of many schools has also been inadequate so far. With a strong Wi-Fi and the right instruments, interactive boards, pedagogical communication and learning platforms, as well as their own school servers become possible.
The federal and state governments intend to define the details of the exact implementation in an agreement to be signed on 6 December. This will then be submitted to the Federal Council on 14 December. The adaptation will also make it possible to invest in social housing and local rail transport for local authorities.
The DigitalPact School is an important step in the right direction. Even if teachers often have to change their attitudes to digital education, the financial relief is a major step in the direction. By 2021, according to the initiative, all pupils should be able to use a digital learning environment at any time, if teachers think it makes sense, in order to receive individual training beyond the classroom.
What opportunities the education of the future will bring with it and how schools can already adapt to it today, I report on 30 November 2018 in my keynote at the International Conference on Education in Vienna.
Update December 07, 2018:
Unfortunately, the digitization of education in Germany is likely to progress more slowly than expected. The Länder have initially rejected the Digital Pact. I will inform you about new developments here…