Digital media in the classroom: training not yet mandatory for future teachers
A study undertaken by Monitor Lehrerbildung provides data on how tomorrow’s teachers are being trained to use digital media in the classroom. The outcome: it is still not mandatory for students to learn about the educational use of tablets and smartboards as part of their degree programmes. Education experts are therefore calling for the subject to become an obligatory part of teacher training – in all subjects and all school types.
To ensure that German schools do not fall behind in matters of digitisation, the Conference of the Ministers of Education (KMK) set itself a specific target as early as 2016: by 2021, all schoolchildren should be able to use a digital learning environment and have access to the internet at all times. However, suitably trained teaching staff are required to ensure that the technical equipment can be used in a manner that is conducive to learning. In addition to being media literate, such teaching staff must also be aware of didactic approaches in order to integrate digital media meaningfully into their lessons.
Three years before the KMK hopes to reach this target, Monitor Lehrerbildung has evaluated the extent to which these new requirements have already been integrated into the training of the next teacher generation. To achieve this, the federal states and higher education institutions (HEIs) involved in teacher training were surveyed about their regulations and the curricular significance of training in the use of digital media in winter 2017/18.
The result: In many HEIs that offer teacher training future teachers for all types of schools and all subjects could find a way to graduate without ever having touched on the subject of digital media. In many institutions, students are not required to take courses on digital media, whether for individual subjects or on a multidisciplinary basis. Consequently, the issue often remains optional in teacher education. In programmes for grammar schools, for example, only seven out of the 60 HEIs altogether offer mandatory courses on the use of digital media in all subjects.
“The use of digital media must become an obligatory part of all teacher training courses – irrespective of the subject or type of school,” urged Jörg Dräger, Member of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board. After all, digitally based learning may help develop individual strengths in heterogeneous groups of schoolchildren. The extent to which such potential can actually be used depends to a great extent on the teacher’s skills. “Digital media alone are not a guarantee for effective learning. They must be embedded appropriately in the teaching concept and serve educational goals,” stated Dräger.
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The study conducted by Monitor Lehrerbildung also reveals a need for action on the part of the federal states. Only five federal states currently take the topic of digital media into account in their respective state examination regulations. And yet the federal states could play a much more regulative role by introducing legally binding regulations on the methodological use of digital media in teacher training.
The Monitor Lehrerbildung education experts also urge HEIs to cooperate more closely. At present, around one-third of the HEIs surveyed in the study collaborate with other institutions on the topic of digitisation.
“HEIs simply cannot afford to continue with their go-it-alone mentality when it comes to such a central topic of teacher training,” stated Ekkehard Winter. The Executive Director of the Deutsche Telekom Stiftung calls for better networking : “To roll out good practices in the use of digital media in teacher training, it is also essential for the HEIs involved to cooperate across federal states.”
The education experts also believe that strategic cooperative activities between schools and the HEIs involved in teacher training should be expanded with regard to the options for using digital media in the classroom. This would ensure that teacher training degree programmes and school practice are closely connected in a rapidly changing digital world.
Information about the publication and Monitor Lehrerbildung: “Lehramtsstudium in der digitalen Welt – Professionelle Vorbereitung auf den Unterricht mit digitalen Medien?!” (Teacher training in the digital world – professional preparation for lessons involving digital media?!) is a special publication by Monitor Lehrerbildung. A total of 63 HEIs and the federal state ministries responsible for teacher training were surveyed in winter 2017/18. Emphasis was placed on the first stage of teacher training at HEIs. Further training and continuing education programmes are also of major importance when it comes to qualifying teachers to deliver lessons involving digital media. However, this study did not focus on such programmes.
Monitor Lehrerbildung is the only teacher training database in Germany. This database at www.monitor-lehrerbildung.de provides a clear presentation of the relevant data concerning the first stage of teacher training in Germany. A total of 63 HEIs and all 16 federal states took part in the special survey on digitisation conducted by Monitor Lehrerbildung in 2017/18. HEIs and the federal states have regularly completed surveys on their teacher training structures since 2012. A comparison of federal states and HEIs over time enables development trends to be presented. All data and more information about the topic can be accessed freely at www.monitor-lehrerbildung.de. Monitor Lehrerbildung is a joint project of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the CHE Centre for Higher Education, the Deutsche Telekom Stiftung and the Stifterverband.
Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.