February 2018

Building a Digital Future Through Education - Transcript

For the successful transition to a full digital economy, there need to be changes in the way young people are educated and prepared for the challenges of a rapidly changing working environment. dotmagazine talked to Alexander Rabe, Managing Director of the eco Association, about how education needs to be transformed.

Digital Education

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Watch the 4-minute Interview with Alexander Rabe.


DOTMAGAZINE: How do we need to transform education to meet the demands of current and future working environments?

ALEXANDER RABE: I'm convinced that the transformation of society and the economy requires a complete new skill-set for teachers and students. But first of all, we need to establish a digital infrastructure for all schools in Germany. 

Connecting schools to glass fiber is a first step. Connecting the classrooms with wireless LAN connections a second one. You need tablet PCs, you need whiteboards. All these things will already cost billions of euros to invest.

But that's not enough: We need to establish new concepts of learning. That means teachers need to have digital education in their curriculum and they need to establish didactic concepts to enable the children to build the digital transformation for the future.

This is very complicated in Germany because we have a federal system, so every land has to build on the old concept – and the results are currently pretty bad. We have a new statistic that the number of students for informatics in Germany is decreasing. That means we need to act now. 

DOT: Looking around the world, there are already strong approaches to the digitalization of education – can they act as a model for transforming how we teach? 

RABE: All over the world you can find best practices in establishing digital education. But you don't have to look to the United States or to Asia. You also can have a look at the United Kingdom or Switzerland. They have already established digital education in their curricula. And I think it's a very important step to do that now, because it takes a lot of time even to teach teachers how to educate pupils in digital education. 

DOT: What is the status of digital education in Germany, and what still needs to be done? 

RABE: First of all, in international comparison, we have a very bad digital infrastructure. That means the schools have maybe an Internet connection, but it's not a fast Internet connection, and classrooms don't have wireless connection. They don't have PCs or tablet PCs in the classroom for all the students. This is a very bad beginning. 

But we also don't have any curriculum system – we have a federal system; that means in Berlin you get different information than in Bavaria, and there is no concept for Germany at all. And if you want to learn, we have to have a look at the United Kingdom. They have computer science from the first class in school, and I think this is very important to show the little ones that it can be great to build a digital future for all of us. 

Since January 2018, Alexander Rabe is Managing Director of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, the largest Internet industry association in Europe. He took over the management of eco’s Capital Office, including the division of Policy, Law and Regulations, in 2016. Prior to that, Rabe was CEO of the Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) and CEO of German Informatik Akademie GmbH in Bonn.