Even today, it is possible to complete a teacher training course in Germany without having to acquire digital skills. Comparative data provided by Monitor Lehrerbildung (Monitoring Teacher Education) shows that only little progress has been made in recent years, in spite of the Coronavirus pandemic. At the current rate of progress, it would take until 2040 before the skills needed for digital transformation are established across the board in teacher education in the case of teacher training courses for grammar schools. Education experts are therefore calling on the federal government, the Länder and universities to take action.
The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic over the past few months has laid bare the fact that Germany’s schools and their teachers are still not adequately prepared for education and teaching in the digital world.
Compulsory courses for acquiring digital media competence remain the exception rather than the rule in teacher training programmes at German higher education institutions (HEIs). Only around 20 per cent of all HEIs make such courses compulsory for all teacher training students, irrespective of the type of teaching training programme.
Comparative data from an earlier survey conducted by Monitoring Teacher Education also shows that only little progress was made in embedding compulsory courses on digital media skills in the curricula between 2017 and 2020.
Education experts warn of stagnation
In a Policy Brief, education experts from the cooperative project Monitoring Teacher Education now warn urgently of the consequences of stagnation on the issue of digitisation in teacher education. Taking the current rate of progress as a basis, they say it would take until 2040 before the skills needed for digital transformation are established across the board in the first phase of teacher training for grammar school teachers, for example. Until then, it will remain possible to embark on the teacher training period without ever having addressed the educational use of digital media and their significance for schools and teaching in previous teacher training courses.
Policy initiatives fail to reach universities
Yet the issue of the digital transformation in teacher education has played a key role in politics for some time now, for example in the 2016 Strategy of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) or in the coalition agreement of the previous government coalition.
However, too little progress has been made in this area in teacher education at HEIs, explained Volker Meyer-Guckel: “It takes more than good technical equipment and younger teachers to ensure good online education,” stated the Deputy Secretary General of Stifterverband. “The federal government, the Länder and HEIs must lose no time in placing much greater emphasis on the sustainable development of skills for the digital transformation among would-be teachers.”
According to the authors of the Policy Brief, it is now a matter of utilising the momentum of the current dynamic developments in digital teaching, and establishing sustainable solutions. “We need urgently to qualify tomorrow’s teachers in online education,” urged Dagmar Wolf, Senior Vice President, Education, at Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH. “For this to happen, digitalisation must become a genuine cross-cutting issue in teacher education, from subject disciplines and education sciences to teaching methodology and the teacher training period.”
For this reason, the education experts of Monitoring Teacher Education call for cross-phase and cross-state standards in the acquisition of the skills needed for digital transformation in teacher education. The Monitoring Teacher Education experts believe that the federal and Länder governments have a duty to ensure sustainable funding for technical equipment and to create permanent support structures. Schools and universities would be unable to cope with this enormous ongoing task by their own efforts alone.
Information about Monitoring Teacher Education
Monitoring Teacher Education is the only teacher training database in Germany. This database at http://www.monitor-lehrerbildung.de provides a clear presentation of the relevant data concerning the first phase of teacher training in Germany. A total of 61 HEIs and all 16 federal states completed the last survey conducted by Monitoring Teacher Education in 2020. All data and lots more information about the topic can be accessed freely at http://www.monitor-lehrerbildung.de. Monitoring Teacher Education is a joint project of Bertelsmann Stiftung, the CHE Centre for Higher Education, Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH and Stifterverband.