Education in the Digital World: Statement by the Standing Scientific Commission of the KMK

October 7th, 2021

The Standing Scientific Commission of the KMK, chaired by Olaf Köller, Managing Scientific Director of the IPN, and Felicitas Thiel, Professor at Freie Universität Berlin, today published its statement on the further development of the KMK strategy "Education in the Digital World". The recommendations are as follows:

The statement in brief:

For the development of an education strategy in the digital world, goals must first, be defined and procedures for monitoring the achievement of goals (goal areas) agreed upon; second, core processes (teaching-learning opportunities) are described through which these goals can be achieved; and, third, the various support processes (training/advice, school development, technical infrastructure, research and development) are related to these core processes. This cumulates in six starting points for recommendations:

  • Target areas of education in the context of digitization.
  • Design of teaching-learning processes employing digital technologies.
  • Qualification of teaching staff in the use of digital technologies.
  • Data-supported school design for coordinated use of digital technologies.
  • Ensuring the technical and infrastructural prerequisites.
  • Creating structures for research-based development of digital technologies.

 1. Define, operationalize and review educational goals and competencies in a digital environment

In detail, the Standing Scientific Commission recommends:

  • For general education, a better delineation of subject-specific, informatics, and information-related goals so that three distinguishable competency areas are defined and addressed.
  • Initiating a definition and operationalization process of computer science competencies, complementary to existing competency models, including clarification of the value of IT in state curricula.
  • Further developing the KMK's overall strategy of quality assurance in education to cover the three competency areas in large-scale assessments. Task formats of the IQB education trend and comparison tests should also be further developed so that the use of digital tools is required to answer them and so that the subject-related digital competencies defined in the further developed education standards are also recorded.
  • An amendment to the state regulations addressing mandatory use of digital tools for class tests and key final examinations.

2. Foster learners' competence development through digitally supported processes of teaching and learning

In detail, the Standing Scientific Commission recommends:

  • The development and evaluation of educational concepts for the integration of digital media in the classroom, taking into account the findings of general educational, learning psychology, media education and subject-related research on instructional features that influence learning.
  • The development and evaluation of concepts developed for early education that embed digital media in early education, taking into account research on characteristics enriching learning opportunities.
  • The appropriate use of digital media in teaching and learning scenarios, e.g. for cognitive activation and practicing skills.
  • The development and implementation of digitally supported procedures for formative and summative diagnostics including adaptive feedback in connection with strategies and support - especially for students and daycare children with special support needs.
  • The increased use of digital technologies and materials (e.g. simulations, interactive visualizations) and digitally supported collaborations to specifically promote the understanding of process interrelationships and interdependencies as well as systemic and networked thinking and knowledge.
  • In vocational education and training: The use of digital technologies for the interaction of learning venues and better linking of in-company and vocational school learning, subject-specific and interdisciplinary learning and, if necessary, the systematic integration of a third learning venue (e.g., in-house provider).
  • The development of digitally supported procedures to determine learning and performance progress while observing the constructive alignment of learning and assessment culture.
  • In vocational education and training: Further development of competency-based final examinations in dual and full-time school-based vocational education and training that also include digitization-related components of vocational expertise and for which digital test environments and tools are used to increase the authenticity and validity of the final examinations.
  • Implementing the enhanced educational standards in the classroom in a coordinated process across states and developing a strategy to support schools that defines implementation steps and responsibilities.
  • The formulation of research-based approaches for teaching computer skills in a way that promotes learning, as well as the development of teaching units and teaching tools with which IT competencies can be taught.

3. Professionalize teachers and pedagogical staff for an effective use of digital technologies

In detail, the Standing Scientific Commission recommends:

  • A comprehensive and systematic integration of digitization in all three phases of teacher training for general and vocational schools as well as in the training of teachers.
  • The development of continuing education courses based on scientific findings for effective continuing education courses that include input, testing, and reflection phases and are specifically geared toward the integration of digital technologies in the classroom and in early education practice.
  • The (continuous) development of personnel in training and further education (train-the-trainer).
  • The systematic inclusion of social, ethical and economic issues of digitization in training courses. Examples include issues relating to changes in communication and decision-making processes and changes in the organization of work in-house and with third party partners.
  • Making greater use of the potential of digital technologies for teacher training and continuing education as well as for the training of educators (e.g., digital self-assessments to test competencies; simulations and augmented reality to promote action (precursor) competencies) and the increased development and implementation of programs that are flexible in terms of time and space.
  • In vocational education: Development and implementation of joint digitization-related training for vocational school teachers, in-house and third-party partners.
  • The further development of digital platforms that collect and index instructional videos, concepts, and materials for professional development purposes and make them accessible to teacher education and professional development staff (e.g., Metavideoportal).

4. Use technology-based teaching and learning to support data-driven school development

In detail, the Standing Scientific Commission recommends:

  • Supplementing the reference, action and quality frameworks of the federal states with indicators of digitization-related school development fostering learning, if this has not already been done.
  • Creating positions to facilitate coordination of media education concepts and ensure basic support in schools where media education, subject specific instruction and information technology competencies intersect.
  • Providing support for school administrators and daycare center directors in formulating and implementing media education concepts and selecting suitable digital technologies (e.g., handouts and counseling).
  • Increased use of digital technologies and materials to collaborate with educational partners (e.g., parents) in early education, as well as in schools and vocational training, especially with in-house and third-party partners.
  • Digitally preparing and supplying data to school administrators and school supervisors or daycare center administrators and daycare center supervisors based on an information management concept that defines key indicators and characteristic values, along with embedding data feedback in transparent and participatory quality development processes.

5. Ensuring efficient technical infrastructure and reliable support

In detail, the Standing Scientific Commission recommends:

  • Rapid nationwide expansion of a stable IT infrastructure, particularly with regard to ensuring comprehensive connectivity of sufficient breadth, the provision of learning platforms, and the equipping of schools and daycare centers with sufficient server capacity and end devices.
  • Ensuring that students from educationally disadvantaged households are equipped with end-user devices in line with the testing procedures for exemption from the payment of learning materials.
  • Ensuring barrier-free access to digital technologies and materials for all students in terms of inclusive education and digital participation.
  • Establishing reliable support structures by creating IT support agencies for procurement, (remote) maintenance, monitoring and support tasks at the school boards as well as longer-term contractual agreements with manufacturers for the maintenance of end devices and school servers.
  • Developing handouts for school boards on formulating media development concepts as well as process descriptions for procurement, maintenance, monitoring and support.
  • Developing a cross-national structure to link platforms that provide the developed digital technologies and tools as Open Educational Resources.

6. Establish structures for a research based development and implementation of digital teaching technologies

In detail, the Standing Scientific Commission recommends:

  • Developing a strategy to promote research and development of digital technologies and tools that is coordinated between the federal government (BMBF) and the states and that includes interfaces with practitioners on the one hand and software companies and publishers on the other.
  • Establishing research, development, and implementation structures in which teaching, learning psychology, and educational science research and practice work together in the long term. For instance, by setting up digital classrooms in the digital skills centers.
  • Developing certification procedures and structures for digital technologies and tools for use in preschool, school and vocational education and training on the basis of subject, learning and media psychology, information technology and media ethics standards.