Embarrassing, "said Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz the state of digitization during the election campaign, and nobody wanted to contradict him.

The dream of the “gigabit society”, as the federal government likes to strive for, has not yet come true.

A study by the Berlin “European Center for Digital Competitiveness” shows how great the need for action is.

His “Digital Riser Report” examined how strongly nations have advanced their digital competitiveness in the past three years.

In a European comparison, Germany landed 36th out of 37th. Only Albania performed worse.

The pandemic has made the failures visible under the magnifying glass. The digital lag in the education system is particularly evident. High-speed internet is mostly a foreign concept in the classrooms. Only 50 percent of the pupils have WiFi at their school, compared to 70 percent of the teachers. Many efforts fail between individual laws and different funding measures. The goal of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education that all schoolchildren could use a digital learning environment and access to the Internet by 2021 was not achieved. The digital pact for schools, which the federal and state governments decided two and a half years ago, should pave the way for future-proof teaching: fast internet, powerful servers, cloud services, online learning platforms, digital end devices such as laptops,Tablets and smartboards in the classroom.

More than 100,000 euros per school have been made available for this. But of the total of more than six billion euros from the digital pact, by far not all funding has been called up. The application process is too bureaucratic. In addition to the digital infrastructure, schools often lack trained IT staff to set up the required technical-pedagogical “media development plan”, criticizes the Education and Science Union.

Whether instruction is given on chalk boards or digital smartboards is ultimately decided by the award procedure and fiber optic cables, the core of which is thinner than a human hair. But the transformation from the copper republic to the fiber optic country is a game of patience. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, less than six percent of German households were connected to a fiber optic cable in December 2020. The EU average is 33.5 percent. In pioneering countries such as Spain, Sweden and Lithuania, the rate is well over 70 percent.

In classrooms, too, it is noticeable that the expansion of fiber optics in Germany is only making slow progress. Berlin and Brandenburg recently made a name for themselves because in both federal states not a single general school had fiber optic access via the particularly good “Fiber to the Building” connection type (FTTB). The FFTB architecture provides that the fiber optic cables are laid into the building or the basement, thus enabling an even higher data transmission rate. Positive examples such as Bremen and Hamburg, where the fiber optic quota in schools is over 98 percent, show that the gap between digital pioneer schools and lagging behind is large.

“In Germany we like to digitize: Then there is a PDF form instead of a paper printout. But the holistic view, the necessary infrastructure and the willingness for unbureaucratic solutions are often missing, ”says Sascha Friesike, professor for design of digital innovations at the University of the Arts in Berlin.

Teaching at universities is also often a matter of paper script and a wooden folding table. Before the pandemic, only twelve percent of the courses offered could be accessed digitally. In the wake of the pandemic, more than 90 percent of the courses were then within a few weeks. But the changeover at record speed took its toll. Several thousand students who clicked their way through digital learning platforms at the same time brought university servers to their knees in many places. "With the exception of distance-learning universities, no university in this country has been equipped with such a comprehensive range of digital courses in terms of resources," says Friesike.

In a survey of 119 colleges and universities, only one in five stated that they had a high or very high degree of digitization. According to the self-assessment of the universities, the greatest need for action is in the area of ​​e-governance, i.e. the digitization of finance and personnel management. “We like to get lost in the small and small and set up a working group for everything. Other countries have hurried away and are much more professional, ”says Professor Friesike, who taught for several semesters at the VU University in Amsterdam.

Of the 31 largest universities in Germany, only 13 have named a CIO (Chief Information Officer) or digitization officer with management responsibility.

In the pandemic, it often depended on the commitment of individual teachers and lecturers how well the transformation of the educational offer into a digital environment worked.

Keywords: