Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures unavoidably lead to distance learning and the increased use of digital technologies. It was to be expected that IT associations would joyfully welcome this development and call for stabilising the use of IT in schools. Surprisingly, teachers’ associations are also calling for distance learning and digital schooling. Is it clear to everyone involved what this means?
In May 2020, the German Informatics Society launched the “Offensive Digital School Transformation” (#OdigS) together with IT and business representatives and teachers’ associations. This contribution to “digital education policy” consistently reduces school education to technical aspects (see box). The purpose is the digitally controlled school. The transformation according to the parameters of the IT and data economy is not about a “one-to-one transfer of analogue to digital”, learning structures and processes must rather be rethought and further developed in conformity with IT. That means concretely:
If, instead of optimising technical systems, you focus on people and their individual development as autonomous personalities, you will have different requirements for the use of IT. Instead of collecting data for user profiles, data is stored locally at best (edge computing) and deleted after use. Personality and performance profiles are neither created nor marketed. Technically, this is realised with open operating systems such as Linux and open source software in the intranet, with local servers or own servers at the provider. Keywords are data economy, decentralisation and data sovereignty for the users. For communication you use encrypted messengers like Signal or Threema, which do not record meta data, for surfing browsers that do not store history data or Tor browsers (The Onion Router) that anonymise your address.
Thus computers and software become again what they should be: Tools for professional and private communication and entertainment, but also media in the classroom. There, for example, technology for active media production, without forced data prostitution. All this is technically feasible and proven in practice. In this form, IT can also be used in a pedagogically and didactically meaningful way in lessons from secondary school onwards. It is “only” necessary to rethink and replace the requirements of the data economy by the needs of the people who are learning and to use the media in a way that is appropriate to the people and the matter at hand, instead of adapting both to IT systems.
Prof. Dr Jochen Krautz,
University of Wuppertal,
President of the GBW e.V.
AR Dr Matthias Burchardt,
University of Cologne,
Managing Director of GBW e.V.
(Translation Current Concerns)
jk./mb. The demands of the IT associations1 have been repeating for over 30 years: more money, more jobs, more influence and weight in politics and society. In detail:
This does not go far enough and remains a part of the informatic thinking. But we have to rethink IT and develop further concrete alternatives to current structures before we even want to work with IT. Because neither the “unlimited digital capitalism according to the American model” nor the “Orwellian government surveillance” as in China are, according to the German Federal President Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Kirchentag 2019, an option for Europe and certainly not for schools.
(Translation Current Concerns)
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