Digital schools during the Covid19 crisis (3) – Concrete recommendations

The health crisis has caused a lot of damage. This makes it all the more important to use the positive experience that has also been made to compensate for the damage with new progress. Therefore, we must now use the push effect of the crisis.

  1. Do not turn back progress, but explore it: If we stop digital teaching, we will soon forget the knowledge we have acquired with it. We should do the opposite, continue to experiment with digital forms of teaching and explore the results of these experiments.
  2. Use more digital tools in teaching: E-learning can be used profitably in all subjects – from sport and music to mathematics and German, geography and history, and especially for the popular project work. We should make more use of subject-specific digital tools in addition to generic digital tools.
  3. Show more appreciation for teachers: If we show high esteem for teachers again in the eyes of the children in the future, the school will regain effectiveness. We should start while memories of the lockdown are still fresh.
  4. Build personalised parent portals: Parent portals enable better alignment between school and family institutions. They support the co-production of lessons in times of crisis AND in the normal school day. We should start developing them now – and in such a way that parents with children in different schools also only have to use one portal.

Doing up with unfinished homework

The health crisis has also made us painfully aware of all the digitalisation that has been missed in the Swiss school system in recent years. If we take it as an opportunity to catch up on our unfinished homework, it will help us to catch up more quickly.

  1. Implement Edulog in all cantons: Digital teaching and learning will only work in a secure virtual trust space. Secure online access to digital services is therefore urgently needed. Edulog, the “Federation of Identity Services in the Swiss Education Area”, offers such secure access and can be linked to a national eID in the future. We should use Edulog in all cantons.
  2. Create digital competence centres in schools: It is important that schools actively support their teachers in the introduction of digital forms of teaching in the future. Schools need IT specialists, a richly equipped digital teaching platform and digital coaches for both teachers and students. We should provide the necessary resources for this, even if it leads to additional costs.
  3. Promote teachers’ digital competences through education and training: Teacher training colleges are the key to success in developing effective, digital forms of schooling. In order to enable a sustainable digitalisation of schools, teacher training colleges must increasingly offer specific training and strongly developed further training on digital forms of teaching. In addition to technical skills, they should also provide didactic knowledge and know-how about designing digital forms of teaching.
  4. Develop digital tools for parents and children: Digital tools can support parents in designing homeschooling. Social digital tools can also replace social encouragement and motivation for children for once. In addition, they can partially take over other tasks of the school, such as letting off steam in social interaction. And last but not least, they enable teachers to maintain social contact with pupils. We should start developing such tools immediately – as a precaution for a possible second lockdown.
  5. Build a secure and trustworthy education data landscape: Data generated digitally in the school context, together with analogue observational research, can help us develop more effective forms of instruction and identify systemic problems in schools. In addition, they enable students to self-analyse and get a more objective orientation on their own performance. We should build a secure and trustworthy education data platform that can be networked with existing data islands in a DSG-compliant way.
  6. Talk about fears: Fears accompany the digital transformation of schools even more than the digital transformation of other areas of life. They have a tendency to block everything at the stupidest moment. We should address data protection, the power of digital corporations, the dystopia of a teacherless digital school et cetera now and negotiate basic policies for dealing with them.

Tackling future fitness

The health crisis has shown us how important digital fitness is for the resilience of the economy. This is one more motivation to develop the subject of media and computer science into a core subject in the long term. In particular, it should take on the following tasks

  1. Teach online skills: The digital world offers opportunities and threats. Schools should promote sensible management of one’s digital identity, privacy protection and cyber security, as well as the skills to find information, conduct transactions and network online.
  2. Teach media literacy without moralising: Media education as a vaccination against Fake News & Co does not work. It is important to promote an independent examination of the critical aspects – language, representation, production and audience. We should refrain from pitting media against IT and ensure competent media teaching.
  3. Promote Computational Thinking & Data Literacy: Conceptual mathematical thinking and developing algorithmic solutions to problems are just as important as the concrete skills of generating, evaluating and using data to clarify issues. The goal is technology-neutral skills. The school should pursue this goal with commitment and use several different platforms for this purpose, which should be as easy to learn as possible
  4. Inspire everyone for the opportunities of digitalisation: Digital skills have a great influence on career opportunities. No one should be excluded from them. Computer science lessons should be designed with the target group in mind and should also inspire girls in particular to take an interest in computer science.
  5. Enable ethical reflection: Digitalisation is triggering very far-reaching and relatively rapid changes in markets and cultures. In order to act responsibly, one must be able to reflect ethically on digitisation projects. The school system should enable students to compare and weigh the opportunities and risks of a digital transformation project.

The series

Part 1: A Situation Analysis was published on 5 June. Part 2: Fundamental Considerations was published on 12 June.


Acknowledgement

Nada Endrissat, Thomas Gees, Martin Halter, Christoph Luchsinger, Tine Melzer, Thomas Jarchow – von Büren, Reinhard Starka and Anne-Careen Stoltze-Siebmann played a major role in the creation of this article (including the other parts). We would also like to thank Alain Gut and our colleagues in the ICT-Switzerland Education Commission, as well as colleagues from Parldigi, with whom we were able to exchange ideas. The series “Lessons from the Covid19 crisis” was initiated by Ingrid Kissling-Näf. It is supervised by Anne-Careen Stoltze-Siebmann.

AUTOR/AUTORIN: Reinhard Riedl

Reinhard Riedl heads the BFH Centre Digital Society and edits the online magazine SocietyByte. He was president of the Swiss Informatics Society and the International Society for New Music Bern IGNM.

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