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Standing Scientific Commission of the KMK sees further need for action on digitization of the educational system

September 19th, 2022

In its report "Digitization in the Education System," the Standing Scientific Commission of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of Germany (KMK) provides recommendations ranging from daycare centers to universities.

The Standing Scientific Commission, jointly with the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of Germany (KMK), presented its report on "Digitization in the Education System" today (September 19, 2022). In it, the commission identifies a great need for action in the adaptation of educational content, the development of research-based learning materials in sustainable structures, and the training and continuing education of teachers and educational staff. In its report, the commission recommends measures for daycare centers, schools, vocational training, teacher training and higher education. As a prerequisite for their implementation, it emphasizes the importance of an efficient and reliable digital infrastructure and a legal framework.

"Despite all the progress that has been made, enormous efforts remain necessary to further develop the education system in our digitized world. This is precisely why education policy at all levels should agree on a long-term, joint development plan and set milestones," says Prof. Dr. Olaf Köller, scientific director of the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) and co-chair of the KMK, summarizing the recommendations.

Karin Prien, President of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder of Schleswig-Holstein and Minister for Education and Training, Science, Research and Culture: "We would like to thank the Standing Scientific Commission for its systematic review of the topic of digitization in the education system for all phases of education. The report clearly focuses on the challenges and opportunities of digitization for education that exist in all areas of life and, with its 14 recommendations for action, provides interesting impetus for further political implementation, which we must now discuss intensively. I am very pleased that this report views the KMK recommendations of 2016 and 2021 as setting the direction for the topic of digitization in the education system. The efforts made by the federal states in recent years - accelerated by the Corona pandemic - must now be examined with the help of the report and continued. Like the Commission, we are also convinced that digitization will be a very central, but at the same time long process of further development of the education system in all stages of education. I would like to emphasize in particular that for the first time, digitization is being considered systematically from the start of early childhood education. It is not only the findings from this report that make it clear that we will need a new quality of collaboration between early childhood and school education in the future, and that this will also require new forms of collaboration from daycare to higher education."

Changing educational content: digital competencies and compulsory subject of computer science

In its report, the commission concludes that the teaching of digital skills and information technology content is not yet sufficiently anchored in the education plans. For early childhood, the KMK recommends that digital education be made mandatory in the education plans of all states. There is evidence that the use of apps in the individual educational areas is conducive to learning, e.g., for dialogic reading aloud or digital microscopes in the sciences, if they are used in an educational manner. In elementary school, computer science content, such as how robots work, should be included in science lessons. From fifth grade on, the commission proposes computer science as a compulsory subject in all states as of the 2024/25 school year. Vocational training should train future professionals in all professions to see through technological developments and act accordingly. To this end, strict occupational restrictions should be eliminated. For the so-called transitional sector, which prepares people for later vocational training, the commission also recommends anchoring the teaching of digital skills in such a way that the training courses are compatible with regular vocational training.

Develop research-based learning materials, create permanent structures

Furthermore, the SWK recommends the long-term establishment or expansion of cross-state structures in the form of centers for digital education (ZdB). They should develop and provide materials for different types and levels of schools, support schools in their use, and assist the states in developing and implementing training programs for teachers. Cross-state structures should also take on this task to a greater extent for vocational education and universities. "It is unacceptable that each individual teacher or lecturer should have to create materials and consider educational issues as well as data protection and copyright issues. They should be able to access tested and educationally useful materials," demands Prof. Dr. Ulrike Cress, Director of the Leibniz Institute for Knowledge Media (IWM), member of the KMK and WG Chair for the report.

Professionalization of education staff

"The professionalization of education staff is of utmost importance in the field of digitization given the shortage of skilled workers. The commission's recommendations aim to anchor key digitization-related content in initial and continuing education and training and, at the same time, to consolidate or launch specific training programs and measures," continues Olaf Köller.

The KMK advises the states to develop and implement a common reference framework for teacher training. This should specify which content, e.g., digital education and computer science, but also which cross-cutting topics, such as school development and heterogeneity, must be taught in the course of study, in the teacher training program, and in continuing education. To meet the demand for computer science teachers, the KMK recommends introducing the single teaching degree in computer science and further qualification programs for lateral entries. At universities, lecturers would require technical and subject-didactic support. "Good digitally supported teaching activates students and is capable of far more than what was practiced during the Covid semesters," says Ulrike Cress.

Ties Rabe, A-state coordinator and Hamburg's Senator for Schools and Vocational Education: "The Standing Scientific Commission makes important and concrete recommendations for action with this report. These include, in particular, the proposal to introduce computer science as a school subject in the middle school in all federal states. I think this proposal makes sense. However, it is an extensive undertaking, as it means that hours will have to be cut in other school subjects to make computer science possible. We also have to recruit additional teachers and develop new curricula and teaching materials. But nevertheless, it is very clear here that we need to anchor basic information technology education in schools much more strongly than we have in the past. That's why it's an important and smart proposal."

Prof. Dr. R. Alexander Lorz, B state coordinator and Hesse's Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs: "We are very aware of the need to continue our efforts to further develop digital teaching opportunities. From our perspective, digitization affects all subjects - even if a key subject can achieve good things. When it comes to new teaching content and courses, however, the question always arises as to which subjects can be replaced by others. Here, we also hope to receive advice and recommendations from the scientific community, since it is not always possible to add everything that schools should be able to do in the future.

The recommendations at a glance

Recommendations for early education in daycare centers

1. Include digital media education as an educational goal in the framework and orientation plans

2. Create infrastructure and provide teaching and learning materials

3. Provide training and continuing education for early education staff

 

Recommendations for general education schools

4. Permanently establish cross-state centers for digital education (ZdB)

5. Introduce a (compulsory) subject of computer science and corresponding teacher training in all states.

 

Recommendations for vocational education

6. Modernization of educational goals and curricula

7. Further development of the examination system

8. Strengthening of science orientation by establishing a structure of clearing, transfer and leading houses

 

Recommendations for teacher training

9. Implementation of digitization-related content and media-didactic content as well as information technology basics in teacher education

10. Structural further development of teacher training at universities

11. Structural strengthening of in-service teacher training and a more science-oriented orientation

 

Recommendations for higher education

12. Strengthening digital competencies among students and lecturers

13. Establishing and consolidating technical, spatial, didactic and legal structures

14. Developing site-specific and cross-university teaching and digitization strategies.

 

About the Standing Scientific Commission of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of Germany (KMK)

The Standing Scientific Commission (KMK) is an independent scientific advisory body of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of Germany. Its members include 16 educational researchers from various disciplines. The KMK advises the states on education policy issues. It identifies existing challenges and makes evidence-based recommendations for their solution. In doing so, the commission takes an interdisciplinary, longer-term, and systemic perspective. The KMK involves external experts in its work and consults representatives from politics, administration, educational practice and civic society. An office supports the commission in its work.

For more information, visit https://www.kmk.org/kmk/information-in-english/standing-conference.html

 

Contact

Anna Niewerth
Ständige Wissenschaftliche Kommission der Kultusministerkonferenz (SWK)
Geschäftsstelle
0228 501 702

Torsten Heil
Sekretariat der Kultusministerkonferenz
030 25418 462