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“Come talk to me” – When Art meets Digitalisation

The Mayor of Bern as a hologram? In addition to Alec von Graffenried, around 70 people participated in the participatory video installation “Come, talk to me” by the artist Frantiček Klossners. The sculpture is being presented today at the BFH Wirtschaft summer festival. It deals with digitalisation in a playful and philosophical way BFH Wirtschaft is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and is also using the anniversary activities as a communication platform. As an internal measure, the department launched a participatory project that takes up the expectations and wishes for the repositioning and depicts them in the form of a work of art. The internationally recognised media artist and lecturer at the Bern University of the Arts, Frantiček Klossner, could be won for the project. His artistic work revolves around existential questions. The human image of the present is the focus of his works. Dialogue and participation are central components of his art.

70 voices on the digital future

An art project as an internal communication measure? The initial scepticism was followed by willingness and curiosity to follow the artist’s instructions. All employees were invited to give their personal expectations and wishes for the future of BFH Wirtschaft in a video statement. These filmed statements are part of an interactive video installation in the form of a sculptural seated figure that has been given a permanent place in the entrance area to the auditorium. It is waiting to be addressed in order to provide a variety of answers in an unconventional way to questions about the future of education and the influence of digitalisation on society. How does digitalisation change the way we think and act? What is education and how does it unfold? How do we shape our future? What do we expect from the BFH economy? The interactive video sculpture can be “addressed” via a microphone. Anyone who brings their voice into play will be surprised with multi-faceted answers. With each voice appeal, the sculpture begins to speak again. The entire video library comprises 77 different statements. The video recordings were made with staff, students and alumni of the BFH Business School as well as prominent representatives from politics, business and culture. We meet, among others, the Director of Economic Affairs of the Canton of Bern, Christoph Ammann, the Mayor of Bern, Alec von Graffenried, and Germany’s best-known freelance philosopher and best-selling author Rebekka Reinhard. With their incisive statements, they lend their voices to the sculpture and many inspired faces to the future.

About the project

The project was created as part of the anniversary “50 years of the BFH Department of Economics” and shows the department’s path into a digital future. Participants in alphabetical order: Benjamin Adriaensen, Christoph Ammann (Director of Economic Affairs of the Canton of Bern), Daniela Ambühl, Rébecca Baumann, Herbert Binggeli (Rector of Bern University of Applied Sciences), Nathalie Bourquenoud (Die Mobiliar), Manuel Fischer, Malika Garchi, Ruth Gilgen (external project management 50 years BFH-W), Alec von Graffenried (Mayor of Bern), Andrea Gurtner, Anja Habegger, Alexander Hunziker, Ingrid Kissling-Näf, Anna Knutti, Nino Müller, Alessia Neuroni, Claus Noppeney, Eric Postler, Alberto Rascon, Rebekka Reinhard (philosopher), Simon Schneeberger, Lynn Scholtes, Carole Schwarzenbach, David Seav, Ilja Steiner, Claudia Vogel, David Wiedmer, Bruno Wymann. Project management: Daniela Ambühl, BFH Department of Economics Artistic concept and realisation: Frantiček Klossner Camera: Tom Bernhard, Recycled TV AG for Film and Television Post-production: Adrian Perez, Project Axel Foley GmbH Software Engineering: Daniel Schwab, Substring GmbH 3D Modelling: Sven Zürcher, Peter Gaffuri AG 3D CNC Foam Carving: Thierry Ingold, Form AG

About the artist

Frantiček Klossner lives in Bern and works with video art, installation, performance, photo art, drawing and visual poetry. In his cross-disciplinary work, he deals with existential questions and focuses on the human image of the present. In video installations such as “Come, talk to me” and performative sculptures, Klossner uses the human body to depict the processes of psychological individuation and social interdependencies. He negotiates political and social issues in his aesthetic poetic works, engaging the audience in a direct dialogue. More information on his work can be found here.

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The Education ID as the basis for the digital school

If digital teaching aids are increasingly used in class, pupils and teachers need an electronic identity in order to be able to use applications and platforms securely. This is increasingly becoming a critical success factor for schools. From the cantons’ point of view, national developments and cantonal requirements must be reconciled. In a research project of the Digital Society Centre, the situation for the Canton of Bern was analysed. The digital transformation of the school also includes the increased use of digital content and applications. If the issue of access and use of user data is not systematically resolved, numerous offers can no longer be used in practice and the data cannot be adequately protected. The education directors of the cantons have countered this negative scenario with the FIDES project, which aims to develop a federation of educational identities. This will create a national solution that will allow access to many offers with a cantonal or local education ID. The concept of federation requires that cantonal education IDs exist, because FIDES explicitly excludes the creation of a national education ID. With the federation, it only wants to enable a network for the existing identities.

What the Education ID should be able to do

In this initial situation, the Education Department of the Canton of Bern commissioned a team of researchers from the Digital Society Centre to clarify the initial situation in the Canton of Bern. The project documented the requirements and the existing infrastructure, developed a solution concept and interviewed the stakeholders. The aim of the study was to make recommendations on how to proceed and thus provide a building block for the digital transformation of the school. It was assumed that an education ID contains two central aspects and functionalities:

  1. An education ID is a unique identifier in the form of a number that is linked to a person for the entire educational career of the learner or through the entire professional career as a teacher in the schools of the Canton of Bern. Further data can be linked to this number.
  2. An access key (e.g. in the form of a user name and password) is linked to this education ID, which allows the person to confirm their identity to different services and thus gain access to different services in the education sector.

School leaders and stakeholders want an easy way:

  • for access,
  • to manage licences, and
  • to effectively protect the data of teachers and students.

Thus, the timing is right for the realisation of a solution. The biggest concerns about an Education ID relate to the protection of personal data, in particular to prevent “the glass teacher”. School publishers and providers of school administration solutions prefer a national solution so as not to have to integrate individual cantonal solutions.

Heterogeneous starting position

The initial situation differs in the various school levels with regard to the maturity of the existing infrastructure: grammar schools and vocational schools almost all use a uniform school administration solution operated by the canton, which can serve as the data basis for an Education ID. In primary schools, on the other hand, the tools used vary greatly: while many schools use a school administration solution from the three market leaders in Switzerland, Scolaris, iCampus and Lehreroffice, Excel, Access and Filemaker are used – roughly estimated – in a third of schools. These solutions based on Office tools do not allow for simple automated data matching and thus pose high hurdles for the creation of an Education ID. In the solution design, a decentralised solution based on the administration of the data and the provisioning of an ID by the schools was preferred for two reasons:

  1. The data should continue to be managed in the schools in order to be able to guarantee that the data is up-to-date.
  2. Decentralised data storage avoids a large database, which brings further costs and risks of attack.

The proposed implementation requires three elements:

  1. In the individual schools, the existing school administration solution is to be expanded so that the identity information can be used as electronically confirmable attributes. This means that the individual schools need a school administration solution with an additional element that also functions as an identity provider.
  2. To avoid duplicate educational identities being issued, a central database will be created that lists a data-carrying institution for each educational ID.
  3. As a central element, an intermediary instance is created, called a hub or broker, which forwards confirmation requests from authorised applications to the data-carrying schools and forwards confirmations back to the applications. This central element can be used to control which applications are authorised to receive the corresponding identity information.

Thanks to data sparseness, it can be achieved that a publishing platform only learns the number, role and any necessary membership of a class, unless further details are necessary.

Hub function in the future

In the course of the project, the interaction with the national infrastructures was also discussed. It is clear that the hub functionality will one day be provided by the FIDES infrastructure and thus also the organisation of the authorisations to receive confirmed attributes. Furthermore, it can currently be assumed that the register functionality will also be provided at national level. The piloting of the national solution is currently underway and shows how the solution works. For the canton of Bern, the study shows that the national developments should be closely monitored to ensure that a functioning solution is built that meets the needs of the canton. Furthermore, the canton should examine options on how school communities can be supported in switching to a school administration solution that enables the automatic exchange of data. This will make it easier to ensure that all pupils and teachers in primary school and secondary and vocational schools can use an education ID and thus have simple and secure access to different digital applications and content in the future.

You can find the report on the project under Research Reports and Studies here.

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