8-Point Plan for Digital Learning
1. Digital School portal
The vast array of applications, communication channels and web pages are confusing and not very user friendly. Digital School is a portal that now seeks to improve communication between pupils, teachers and parents. As a single point of entry, this portal makes available the most important education and public administration applications. All of these applications (such as Socrates, Eduthek, Moodle, LMS, MS Teams, etc.) will now be accessible through a single account, in other words with a single sign-on.
The Digital School portal will already be available at the start of the coming school year. Part of this platform is the Digital Class Register, which will be implemented at federal schools nationwide in the autumn of 2020.
2. Standardisation of the platforms
Many pupils, but also parents, would like to see a reduction in the number of learning management systems. The goal is to act immediately to reduce the use of learning platforms to one application of choice per school site and to standardise processes over the summer. Accompanying measures will be carried out to assist schools with these tasks.
3. Continuing education for educators
All educators should be well prepared to provide instruction using information and communication technologies in blended and distance learning settings. An additional extensive range of training courses and continuing education measures on using a standard platform will therefore be made available this summer. As a practical offering, there will also be a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), among other things. From August 2020, it will allow individual continuing education in this area independent of time and place. Concrete content includes, for instance, the organisation of distance learning, the use of platforms and of digital content or communication with parents.
4. Aligning Eduthek with curricula
Eduthek is a digital platform that has provided in-depth instructional materials for all types of schools and subjects since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. From a technical point of view, it pools digital educational content and instructional materials using a standard catalogue system.
The next step in platform expansion will be to align all digital resources for teaching and learning with curricula by the upcoming school year in order to further improve search accuracy and to offer teachers optimum service.
5. Quality mark for learning apps
To widen the range of content involving innovative and digital educational media, learning apps are to undergo reviews and then certification for use as educational media in blended and distance learning settings based on international good practice.
Evaluating the apps according to educational criteria is of paramount importance in this context. However, learning management and learning involvement are also essential criteria for innovative learning software, as are ease of use and data privacy.
6. Expanding the basic IT infrastructure at schools
Through investments in basic IT infrastructure, the general framework for digitally supported instruction at federal schools will be fundamentally improved over the next four years. Basic IT infrastructure encompasses an adequately performing fibre-optic based broadband connection at each school site as well as the provision of effective and sufficient WiFi in the individual classrooms. Furnishing access to 60 additional schools can already commence this year.
7. Digital terminals for pupils
To ensure that each pupil has access to his/her own learning device, there are plans to provide 5th and 6th grade pupils with digital terminals starting in the 2021/22 school year. After that, terminals will be furnished successively to each new 5th grade class. Schools can take part in the initiative based on an autonomous decision about the equipment to be used on site and based on an educational digitalisation and use concept. There is a provision that private funding will account for 25% of the total.
The programme being set up covers three tasks:
- Conduct a call and a selection procedure for schools with a digitalisation concept
- Procure mobile terminals and commission the necessary external services in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Procurement Agency (BBG)
- Plan and carry out a funding programme to acquire the equipment
Preparations are to begin immediately. At the start of the 2021/22 school year, committed lower secondary level schools will have mobile terminals available for the initial grades.
8. Digital terminals for teachers
All schools that successfully participate in a call for pupil devices will also be supplied with additional terminals for teachers. Moreover, in the building of new schools or the renovation of existing ones, efforts will be stepped up to provide workrooms for educators. We will also conclude central licensing agreements to enable all educators to access standard software.
Investment volumes to implement the 8-Point Plan
To implement the 8-Point Plan, an additional EUR 200 million will be invested in the period up to 2022. This ensures that the drive for innovation will continue in a consistent and sustainable manner and that innovative teaching and learning formats will be broadly implemented throughout the education system.