What is the situation?
For years, there has been an intensive debate about German schools’ modest effort to face the challenges of a digitized world and its weak international competitiveness. The COVID-19 pandemic and the forced switch to online and hybrid learning/teaching formats enforced the problematic situation. Overnight, schools were forced to digitize, yet, at least in many cases, having neither sufficient knowledge nor adequate infrastructure. Due to this situation, over the last two years, many financing, consulting and training programs were initiated nationwide to address the short-term needs of schools. They mainly included skill training, technological or administrative support for hard-/software.
Despite this important step, these initiatives only partially covered the schools’ needs. The implementation of digitization in the educational sector will only be successful if sustainable, pedagogically meaningful and demand-oriented digitization concepts are developed in the mid and long term, and if these concepts are seen as part of an overarching school development process. This requires a substantial accounting of the complex entanglements concerning regulatory, technological, social, individual and pedagogical factors in schools – during the analysis as well as implementation phase. For this purpose, a systematic classification of the manifold burdens for digitization as well as a fundamental understanding of the logics, mechanisms and implications of digital technologies on schools is necessary.
Aims of SMASCH
If schools want to be able to take mature and conscious decisions on the implementation and usage of digital technology, a critical reflection of the chances and risks of educational technology as well as of the own organizational culture is needed. Instead of a ‘turbo’-digitization, we want to provide schools with spaces for experimentation and reflection on organizational as well as pedagogical questions in relation to digitization.
Through a targeted reflection on the burdens and challenges that schools face in a digitized society, we aim for the following goals:
- Enable schools with all their stakeholders to critically reflect on and assess the implications of digitization on their lessons and their organization.
- Support pedagogical staff with tools and knowledge to design their digital school development in a sustainable, pedagogically meaningful and conscious manner.
- Show alternative ways how to creatively and innovatively design digitization – in analogue as well as digital formats.
- Implement digitization as an integrated, not as an additional, part of school development in the organizational context.
- Develop concepts, insights, materials that can also be used by schools outside the SMASCH-context to shape their mid- and long-term way of digitization.
- Generate scientific knowledge on the manifold implications and development options of digitization in schools.