Digital education…at the expense of the students and teachers, AixConcept GmbH, press release

The state is increasingly pushing into digital education as a provider. In a current statement, the Didacta Association of the Education Industry expresses concern that the federal government and individual federal states are unfairly affecting the market and its dynamics with tax-financed IT solutions for schools – and thus weakening the medium-sized education and digital economy in Germany and the process of digitization of schools make it difficult. “A cut-throat competition with tax funds is taking place, which is at the expense of the students and their teachers. In the end, they have to work with inferior products,” explains Volker Jürgens, Managing Director of the IT company AixConcept from Stolberg near Aachen and Chairman of the Didacta Association’s Committee for Digital Education.

According to the Didacta Association’s paper, the federal government and individual federal states have “recently been involved as economic operators in purely technical areas of education that go far beyond their recognized sovereignty for educational content. These market interventions endanger future-oriented digitization of the entire education system.”

And further: “The corona pandemic has accelerated the digitization of the German education system, especially schools. At the beginning of the Corona crisis, teachers, students and their parents had to familiarize themselves with the pedagogical requirements of distance learning and learn how to use the technical equipment and digital applications. The medium-sized education industry supported them actively and unbureaucratically. Within a few weeks, she has enabled millions of students and thousands of schools to continue to fulfill their educational mandate. The education industry equipped schools at short notice, connected them to IT systems and gave them tailor-made advice. It has made applications and content available, often digitally and temporarily even free of charge. In addition, she has expanded capacities and created a variety of additional materials.”

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Against this background, more and more schools are deciding to work with established providers in the German education industry who rely on data protection-compliant solutions. “These providers enable digitally supported (distance) lessons and efficient planning of everyday school life. They guarantee the necessary technical support. In doing so, they advise the schools to select the solution that best suits their requirements and strategies defined in the respective media education concepts and media development plans,” states the Didacta association.

“State monopoly offers do not adequately meet the complex requirements of educational practice”

He says: “The short-term response times and the specific knowledge of the providers contribute to a trusting, constructive and goal-oriented cooperation in the interests of the students and teachers, who can thus concentrate on the lesson. The infrastructure for the digital school is constantly improving with the help of medium-sized companies and innovations are encouraged.”

But: “Especially at the state level, a wide variety of public solutions for the digital school infrastructure are currently being introduced, which are also being introduced with an alleged ‘free promise’.” .

In practice, as stated in the statement: “Numerous state monopoly offers do not adequately meet the complex requirements of educational practice and only offer part of the necessary range of services. In addition, there is a lack of specialists for technical support, for the support and maintenance of networks, for the competent implementation of hardware and software and for suitable training. In many educational institutions, this results in considerable additional work because specialists and teachers have to take on tasks that are not related to their subject. This is not in the sense of sustainable school development and use of funds, both quantitatively and qualitatively.”

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The medium-sized companies have proven that they can react flexibly and precisely to the requirements of the schools. Schools should fulfill their educational mission and not have to deal with IT administration. Among other things, the Didacta Association calls for “the reduction of state intervention in the construction and use of the digital infrastructure”.

AixConcept Managing Director Volker Jürgens proposes that the government solutions no longer be financed from taxes, but instead, like the offers from private competitors, have to be financed from fees that the customers – the school authorities – have to pay. “Then it would very quickly become clear who would prevail on the market with better solutions,” says Jürgens. He is certain: the government offers, which (despite the high costs for taxpayers) only account for a fraction of the development costs of modern, market-ready IT, would not be.

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