This decision is emblematic of the state of digital education in Germany: The Ministry of Schools and Education of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia is spending 2.6 million euros on a three-year license for the Brockhaus online reference work. In addition to the online encyclopedia, the package of digital learning materials also includes a youth and children’s lexicon as well as online course material for proper research, the ministry said in a press release known.
The news last week triggered ridicule and incomprehension – Brockhaus made it into the German Twitter trends, Wikimedia Deutschland eV asked the fair questionwhy the public sector is not investing in free educational content instead, and the parliamentary group of the Greens in North Rhine-Westphalia poses critical questions about the in several small inquiries under the title “Digital learning in leather binding” actual need on the content and the award procedure.
In the Edit Policy column, former MEP Julia Reda comments on developments in European and global digital policy. In doing so, she wants to show that European and global network policy developments can be changed and encourage political commitment.
It is clear that Germany has neglected digital education for years. This is falling on our feet now in the corona crisis, most schools were not prepared for a sudden switch to distance teaching. In this respect, it is to be welcomed if the public sector is now investing in digital education. However, the question arises as to why the focus is not on taking advantage of digital education rather than creating new problems.
Missed opportunities of digitization
School books on paper that have been purchased can be used by a school until they fall apart due to age or the information is so outdated that a new edition is necessary. Depending on the school subject, this can take significantly longer than three years. Actually, digital educational content has an advantage here in every respect, because any number of copies can be made, because it does not show any signs of use and can be continuously updated – Wikipedia is the best example of this and has become an integral part of school education, not just since Corona.