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Just How Digital Are German Schools?

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The image shows several students looking at their tablets. © Monkey Business 2​/​
Digital media in the classroom: The co­ro­na­virus pandemic posed many challenges for schools – particularly on a technical level.

What role do di­gi­tal media currently play in the German school system? How do teachers view the situation in their schools? We now have answers to these questions thanks to the study “Digital School – The Federal Indicator”, which was carried out in the summer of 2021 under the direction of assistant professor Dr. Ramona Lorenz from the Center for Research on Education and School Development (IFS) at TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity and published by the Deut­sche Telekom Foun­da­tion. The study also looked into teaching and learning conditions during the co­ro­na­virus pandemic.

Based on the findings of a fourth survey – which was preceded the Federal Indicators carried out by the IFS in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – the study provides up-to-date in­for­mation on the use of di­gi­tal media in teaching and learning in general secondary schools in Germany. The representative survey, in which a total of 1,512 teachers at the lower secondary level participated, provides a comprehensive view of the extent to which di­gi­tal media have already made their way into classrooms and highlights the developments throughout the various federal states. Released four years after the previous Federal Indicator, the 2021 study continues to focus on topics that are central to teaching and learning with di­gi­tal media: IT equipment in schools and IT support, the use of di­gi­tal media in the classroom, the promotion of computer- and in­for­mation-related skills among schoolchildren, and teachers’ ability to deal with di­gi­tal media in class.

Teachers find IT equipment in schools inadequate

Just over half (56.6 percent) of the teachers surveyed described the IT equipment in their schools as sufficient – this figure has barely increased since the 2017 survey (55.6 percent). When asked about the availability of adequate internet access in their schools, the teachers’ responses were even more critical: While over two thirds (67.3 percent) of the respondents in 2017 described their internet access as sufficient, only 53.7 percent share this opinion in 2021. “The IT equipment in schools does not seem to be keeping up with the technical and pedagogical requirements for teaching and learning with di­gi­tal media,” says Dr. Ramona Lorenz.

The percentage of teachers at the lower secondary level in Germany who use di­gi­tal media on a regular basis (at least once a week) has risen sharply: From 50.1 percent (2017) to 73.3 percent (2021). When compared to other education systems, Germany is falling behind in this regard.

Portrait of Assistant professor Dr. Ramona Lorenz © Privat
Assistant professor Dr. Ramona Lorenz studies the use of di­gi­tal media in schools and teaching.

The co­ro­na­virus pandemic posed many challenges for schools – particularly on a technical level. Almost three quarters (73.6 percent) of the teachers surveyed in Germany stated that schoolchildren had the option of borrowing di­gi­tal devices such as laptops or tablets if they did not have adequate equipment at home for distance learning. Three fifths (60.1 percent) of the teachers claimed to have noticed an improvement in this situation since the beginning of the co­ro­na­virus pandemic.

Different regional focuses

However, the 2021 Federal Indicator also clearly shows that the federal states are continuing to develop at different rates and are setting different priorities with regard to “di­gi­tal teaching and learning materials in the classroom”. For instance, while 87 percent of the teachers surveyed in Bavaria stated that they use di­gi­tal media in the classroom at least once a week, only 57 percent said the same in Hamburg. When considered as a whole, the findings of the study indicate that additional action is required, particularly in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg and Thuringia. This suggests that the educational opportunities of children and young people as well as general teaching and learning conditions continue to depend heavily on the individual’s place of residence – despite the nationwide strategies and measures implemented in Germany.

Summary of key findings

Detailed study report


Contact for further Information:

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Cam­pus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dort­mund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Cam­pus). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from North Cam­pus to South Cam­pus by car, there is the connection via Vo­gel­pothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Cam­pus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity has its own train station (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station (“Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 15 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bo­chum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duis­burg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop “Dort­mund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dort­mund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the uni­ver­si­ty campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of in­ter­na­tio­nal flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the uni­ver­si­ty station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity. There are two stations on North Cam­pus. One (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Cam­pus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Cam­pus and offers a direct connection to South Cam­pus every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity are spread over two campuses, the larger Cam­pus North and the smaller Cam­pus South. Additionally, some areas of the uni­ver­si­ty are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.

Site Map of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity (Second Page in English).