Sunday, November 12, 2017

German Education Goes Digital

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the German education system is a thing to be envied. In particular, Germany has some of the highest rates of school enrollment and youth employment in the world(1).

This record is surprising for two reasons.  First of, Germany spends less (4.2% of GDP) than the OECD average (4.8% of GDP) on education(1).  Second, German schools seem to have been reluctant to go digital(2).

Digital transformation has entered various sectors of the economy in Germany. However, the education sector has remained largely unaffected(3).

Smartphones, notebooks, and tablet computers are an integral part of daily life for most young Germans these days. However, the use of digital media in the classroom isn’t catching on as fast as one might expect(2).

It has been reported that interactive classes, bridging the gap between traditional education and modern technology, are a scarce commodity in Germany. This is a country that prides itself on its engineering prowess and manufacturing skills(4).

Some reasons have been cited for lack of digital transformation in the German education sector.  In some cases, students are not allowed to use their devices (especially smartphones) in schools. In some cases, teachers lack confidence in using the latest technology.  However, the biggest issue is funding(2).  And other articles (e.g., 5) have emphasized the fact that digital education in schools is indeed an expensive undertaking.

However, with hopes of making a ‘big leap’ in digital learning, former German Education Minister Johanna Wanka promised to invest 5 billion Euros in 40,000 schools(1).

It has been stated that Germany’s education system appears poorly prepared to equip its youngsters with the tech skills they’ll need for the future labor market. Nevertheless, we are beginning to see signs of the needed change in political will.  Also, companies and private initiatives are pushing for change(4).


Posted by: Dr. Nat Tuivavalagi 

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