Digital projects – IMIESA
Bavaria, Bremen, Hamburg and Saxony are “on track” with their school clouds, Berlin, on the other hand, is one of the federal states or large cities in which two or more digital learning platforms coexist. This is what the Deutsche Telekom Foundation announces for a study commissioned by it on learning management systems (LMS) in 16 countries, which was presented on Thursday.
The comparison of countries established by the Institute for Information Management at the University of Bremen (ifib) portrays a “heterogeneous landscape” of platforms and their operating models (the link to the full study is available. Check them out here).
“We see countries that made offers to their schools early on and therefore offered them a direction. Others started later and are now faced with the fact that there are already a multitude of solutions at municipal level ”, explains study manager Andreas Breiter.
The multitude of solutions, municipal solutions Self-determination by school authorities and school autonomy made a nationally uniform school cloud solution for all schools highly unlikely, according to the central message of the study.
Such a solution should be offered by the HPI School Cloud, which the Potsdam Hasso Plattner Institute on behalf of the Federal Government from 2016 programmed and supervised until the summer of 2021. Designed as a kind of guiding star of the digital pact of many billion dollars for schools, the HPI solution has failed to establish itself nationally.
HPI cloud will be sued by only three countries
After a pilot phase with the MINT-EC school network, 4,000 schools with 1.4 million users: connected internally. But only three states – Brandenburg, Lower Saxony and Thuringia – use the platform at all levels. After federal funding ends in July this year, the system will operate in a network of the three countries.
For Thomas de Maizière, president of the foundation, it is also clear: the study clearly shows that the national school cloud, so much demanded, is a utopia. “Given the diversity of learning platforms, it is more important to connect them together through common standards and interfaces.
“When it’s so complicated,” de Maizière said in an online press conference Thursday, “schools need help”. Each school must be provided with technical support, for which the digital pact also 500 million euros are planned, but hardly called up to date. Educational support from educational technologists capable of developing specific learning scenarios is also requested.
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According to a statement released Thursday against the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) by leading education researchers: A nationwide solution, at least as a roof structure, is by no means ruled out . The Permanent Scientific Commission (Stäwiko) of the KMK calls for “the development of a transnational structure to link the platforms that provide the digital technologies and tools developed as open educational resources”.
Competition between connection systems
With Mundo, the “open educational media library of the federal states”, such a roof structure is already in place, at least for digital educational content. There are currently few 40,000 media for education. Mundo, however, competes with Wir Learn Online, another search engine and platform for free educational materials – in this case funded by the federal government.
Another “cornerstone of a federal digital infrastructure”: Vidis, the “mediation service for the management of digital identity in schools” funded under the digital pact. In the future, Vidis will offer a secure connection to all online services for schools.
The same is true here: many building blocks create a confusing site for the digitization of schools and courtyards that still has a long way to go. At least the private educational foundation Telekom and the KMK consultants agree on the necessary interfaces between the systems.
What the Stäwiko under the chairmanship of pedagogue Felicitas Thiel (FU Berlin) and Olaf Köller of the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (University of Kiel) recommends elsewhere, but differs from the study’s statements for the Telekom Foundation.
Stäwiko criticizes commercial offers
Commercial offerings “in the complex digital learning software market” speak of Stäwiko the Quality of: “These tools are often designed to support exam preparation and neglect important functions of the teaching-learning processes.
An individual assessment of platform solutions in the Länder but neither the Stäwiko nor the Telekom Foundation. “Regarding the suitability or inadequacy of a specific product,” this is not possible and makes no sense due to the different starting conditions, say Breiter and his team. A comparison between Bavaria and Berlin allows conclusions to be drawn on different levels of development. According to the ifib study, the “Bayern Cloud Schule” includes the Visavid video conferencing tool, the school portal and the Mebis learning platform, as well as the integrated TeachingSHARE service, which enables teachers to exchange teaching materials and concepts between schools in Bavaria. Mebis also includes browser-based blackboard software, media library, exam archive and information portal.
[Lesen Sie auch einen Bericht über Schulcloud-Pannen im Frühjahr 2021: “Absichtlich gegen die Wand gefahren”]
“Video and audio content legally secure and pedagogically didactically tested” can be viewed in the media library. The “mebis Tube” extension is also intended to allow teachers to publish explanatory videos that they have created themselves under a Creative Commons license. And in the exam archive the Central Bavarian final exams, marks and comparative tests as well as the basic knowledge tests are available.
Many sources of online tools and materials in Berlin
This all sounds like a much more comprehensive and targeted offering that Berlin can deliver with two learning platforms. The Berlin Learning Space, which has been in existence for several years, has been completed since the start of 2021 with the support of the school management by the commercial provider itslearning. The BigBlueButton open source video conferencing solution and learning tools are available as integrated services for both systems as a nationwide license – and coverage planning as well as for a digital classroom register. Schools can access online media through the Berlin-Brandenburg Education Server, the National Media Center and the Media Forum.
An REL platform is still under construction. Online media platforms should “in the future also be accessible through the school portal under development”. Lots of digital projects for Berlin too.
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In the final overall assessment by the ifib study director and his team, emphasis was placed on “the importance of standardized interfaces, data formats and protocols”. On their own, they would allow “secure data storage, secure data transfer and therefore a reliable and distributed IT landscape, suitable for daily use without unnecessary media disruption”.
Classroom teaching – and digitization stagnating?
The study’s conclusion also includes the fact that Germany still lags behind in the use of learning management systems in an international comparison. Countries like Great Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands have been making LMSs available to schools for over a decade or have been ‘offered in the market’.
This means that the digital tools are in the lessons there are much deeper than in Germany. And without corona-related school closures, advances in distance education threaten to be forgotten again. In the current attendance phase, it is rather a question of finally offering children and adolescents anew regular courses.
The Permanent Scientific Commission of the KMK critically notes that Germany, according to the school barometer at school closures in 2020, represents only a third of the pupils affected via e-learning platforms, while it was two-thirds in Austria and Switzerland.
KMK Consultants: broadly integrating digital media, also in testing
This should change: according to Stäwiko, “the continuous functioning of learning management systems and learning platforms” is part of a “robust IT infrastructure” that every school in Germany needs. The prerequisites for this are fast Internet connections, efficient school servers with manufacturer support, reliable teaching facilities as well as sufficiently flexible terminals and the associated ‘multi-year maintenance contracts’, ”writes Stäwiko in his “Declaration on the future development of KMK’s educational strategy in the digital world”.
According to the commission, freely accessible digital materials, that is, open educational resources that have an added value compared to analogue teaching elements, are fundamentally good. To do this, they should draw on theories of the psychology of learning and didactic theories of subjects – and on technological innovations of AI, for example through an “automatic evaluation of productive linguistic performances”, the KMK uniform standards for the admission of school media and the corresponding certification procedures, which the 16 countries are jointly developing.
Overall, according to Stäwiko’s statement, digital media should be integrated much more strongly than before in the classroom, but also in classroom work and school performance studies. The tools should be used, for example, to improve ‘cognitive activation and exercise of skills’ – for example through interactive visualizations and digitally assisted collaborative forms of work. Along the way, the KMK must clarify “the importance of computer science in the lectures of the Länder”. of the lesson is still at the beginning. However, ifib’s digitization expert Andreas Breiter is cautiously optimistic: all federal states would have digitization lessons on the agenda.
Digital instruments and media would also remain an integral part “after Corona” – “In preparing and following courses, when exchanging material and when accessing current content”.