Situation and development of school clouds in Germany
The corona-induced homeschooling or distance learning has put learning with digital media in the focus of public discussion and made clear differences in the use of school clouds in Germany visible. The Institute for Information Management at the University of Bremen (ifib) was therefore commissioned by the Telekom Foundation to conduct a systemic inventory of school learning platforms and IT strategies in all German states and five German municipalities. The recently published study addresses the questions:
- What is in the various learning platforms that the federal states and also some municipalities offer their schools?
- How are the systems organized technically?
- Who provides pedagogical and technical support?
- How much do these solutions differ from one another?
In addition to an overview of the solutions used, the study also provides a model that systematizes all parts of a learning management system (LMS) and shows what opportunities the respective learning platforms offer students, how the operation of the systems is organized, and who provides pedagogical and technical support. Bavaria, Bremen, Hamburg and Saxony showed a broad set-up of digital media for teaching. In other states, however, different solutions exist side by side in some cases.
The study’s final finding:
There will probably not be a nationwide uniform school cloud solution in Germany – and it is not necessary as long as there are common standards and functioning interfaces for all existing learning management systems in the future.
The benefits of LMSs should have been clear at the latest since the school closures, even though Germany was very late in getting involved with learning platforms by international standards. As true all-rounders, school clouds or learning management systems support teaching and learning processes, simplify organizational processes, and provide a technical basis for communication between teachers, learners, parents, and the school through supplementary offerings from external providers (e.g., by means of video conferencing systems or messenger services).
We at OESA e.V. recommend the following, open source-based systems:
- ILIAS (developed at the University of Cologne)
- and StudIP.
All three are hosted on the school’s own server, are therefore DSGVO-compliant, free of charge and free of advertising, and make it possible to control access rights for the various instances through closed user groups. However, setting up learning environments is highly dependent on the IT infrastructure available in each case; both Moodle and Ilias must be set up and hosted as closed systems on their own servers. Those looking for lower-threshold offerings will have to reckon with a loss of functionality. However, in order to establish open source systems, such as Moodle, in the school context in a long-term, sustainable and future-proof manner, much greater investment in the know-how of the institutions and the competencies of the people is required in addition to the provision of material resources for IT equipment. We have compiled further information on LMS and their didactically meaningful use here.