The pandemic revealed numerous deficits in digital education in the past year, many school authorities and state officials were initially completely unprepared and overwhelmed for the new challenges.
Dr. Rainer Ballnus, Head of Digitization at the Senator for Children and Education Bremen, explains in the latest edition of the podcast heise meets: “Digitizing schools from 0 to 100 does not work, it is a lengthy process that many responsible persons had neglected over the years. Only buying end devices without thinking about the necessary infrastructure such as WLAN and the digital equipment of the classrooms will fail . ” Bremen, on the other hand, has been strategically relying on centrally managed school IT for years, which is based on open source solutions, is scalable and complies with data protection regulations.
The motto “A lot of money helps a lot” is too short
“The complicated federal structure makes the procurement process more complicated than in our neighboring countries – on the one hand, responsibility for the infrastructure rests with the municipality, but that for teacher equipment and learning content lies with the state, and the funding comes from the federal government and the states Countries left their municipalities alone for too long in autonomy and did not adopt a uniform country concept, “says Ballnus.
Smaller municipalities are sometimes overwhelmed with the necessary tenders, and there is a lack of framework agreements and support in the procurement of infrastructures and support services. For a good IT infrastructure, among other things, a central identity management is absolutely essential – Bremen has decided in favor of Univention – as well as a central account management and password assignment with independent resetting as the first steps.
“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is not suitable for schools
Ballnus’ “urgent recommendation” is to agree on a device model that is purchased for everyone and to manage it centrally. The idea that every student brings their own device (BYOD) has proven impractical in terms of control, data protection and efficiency. The Senate of Bremen has therefore equipped all students and teachers with the same end devices in the form of a loan. “Only we can install apps, which is also important for the protection of children and young people. They have to be free of advertising.” For this purpose, Bremen has developed a process in which all apps are checked for data protection and suitability and released centrally. Only teachers are allowed to buy and install apps privately on the devices. Another positive aspect: there can be no social disadvantage due to difficult financial circumstances.
How should digitization be implemented in our schools? How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting events? What was achieved in the 2020/2021 school year? This is what our series of articles would like to shed light on.
How should digitization be implemented in our schools? How has it gone so far? This is what our series of articles would like to shed light on.
Bremen has procured a total of 100,000 iPads on loan. 41 additional people were hired for this purpose; for the content there is one supervisor for every 1,000 teachers and in technical support for every 3,500 devices. Losses rarely occur; Few of them return defective or damaged devices, and the students are very careful with their iPads. In addition, the parents see the approach positively, like a study of satisfaction with the digital learning opportunities shows where Bremen performed best.
Teachers are not IT savvy, and Generation Z cannot save it either
Dr. Ballnus explains that the decisions for the digital education infrastructure in Bremen could only be made in this way because all parties supported it. In any case, there is no money problem, says Dr. Ballnus: “There is a budget in all countries and the first functioning concepts are in place. There is nothing to prevent the ‘digital school’ issue from being implemented across the board as quickly as possible.”
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