Digitization and Education

For Switzerland to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digitization, it needs the required skills. Teaching Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) skills via the education system is therefore of paramount importance. Ongoing digitization is transforming the context in which teaching and learning takes place. The anytime, anywhere availability of knowledge is leading to an adjustment of learning processes and changes in the roles of teachers and students.

Development of a knowledge-based society

The challenge for schools is to prepare the young for lifelong learning, a progressively more complex society and a world of work in constant change. Two important objectives are to ensure that all citizens will be able to use ICT in order to participate competently in political, social, economic and cultural processes, and that they know how to deal with online risks in an informed and independent manner. The administrative and organisational conditions in each of these areas must be designed to exploit available potential and ensure a high level of security.

The Digital Switzerland strategy sets out the guidelines for ICT and digitization. It defines the guidelines for government action in order to shape the transformation process for the benefit of everyone living in Switzerland.

Cooperation between the Confederation and the cantons

They shall coordinate their efforts and ensure cooperation. Digitization in education concerns the constitutional mandate (art. 61a) which creates a statutory requirement both for collaboration between the Confederation and the cantons as well as for collaboration on an intercantonal level. The Confederation is represented by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). The cantons are organised through the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK), which comprises 26 ministers of education.

As part of their cooperation on education policy, the Confederation and cantons make appropriate assessments of the challenges associated with the digitization of the education system, report any need for action and contribute to ensuring the quality and transparency of the Swiss education area.

To make sure that the Swiss education system can adapt to the digital evolution, the Federal Council has mandated the SERI with an in-depth study on the challenges that education and research face in the digital age. The report on the «Challenges of digitization for education and research in Switzerland» in July 2017 helped, in association with the cantons, to define an action plan and measures for the education system during the period 2019-2020.

  • Field of action 1: Improvement of digital competencies on school level

  • Field of action 2: making use of ICT in general and vocational education

  • Field of action 3: rapid adaptation of the education system to the requirements of the market

  • Field of action 4: coordination and communication of cooperation in the field of education

Joint instruments
The Confederation and the cantons take a cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and networked approach to the transformation of the education sector through digitization. At the same time they support networking with important stakeholders and coordinate dialogue on a national level. To that aim they jointly use the following instruments:

  • The Education Cooperation Act (BiZG) provides a framework for establishing the foundations of a coherent national policy on the structure of the educational offering in the digital age.
    Education Cooperation Act (BiZG) (pdf, German)

  • The Koordinationsausschuss Digitalisierung in der Bildung (KoA Digi) (in English, «Coordination Committee on Digitization in Education») is the joint platform for the stakeholders of the Confederation, the cantons and their partners. The KoA Digi takes a cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach to its task of coordinating joint strategic measures relating to the digitization of education.
    Coordination Committee (KoA Digi)

  • The monitoring of die digital education area wants to sets the requirements for the development of the education system in regard to digitization, supported by research and statistical data.
    Monitoring of the digital education area

  • educa.ch in its role as the specialist agency for ICT and education it advises the players in the education system on questions regarding digital transformation. It plays an important role in ensuring quality development in the field of ICT in compulsory and upper secondary education.
    educa.ch – Specialist Agency for ICT and Education

  • The measures to promote young peoples’ education in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) aim is to counter the lack of qualified personnel and to promote the skills required for working in a digital society.
    educamint.ch (German)

National digitization strategy

On 21 June 2018, the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) agreed on a national digitization strategy and finalized the "EDK's strategy for managing the changes resulting from digitization in the education system". The digitization strategy follows on directly from the objectives of the EDK's Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) strategy of 2007 while setting other, further-reaching priorities.

Aims of the digitization strategy
The overriding objective of the digitization strategy is to provide all school pupils and apprentices with the support they need in a world undergoing continuous change due to digitization.

The aims of the strategy apply to seven distinct areas:

  1. Use of data in the education system: i.e. dealing with the data generated by digitization and data security.

  2. The necessary skills and resources for schools and school principals (equipment, infrastructure, digital identity)

  3. Digital expertise for school pupils and apprentices

  4. Ongoing basic and advanced training for teachers on questions related to digitization

  5. Utilization of the potential of digitization through research and innovation

  6. Clarification of the role of new players

  7. Use of new technological possibilities in education authority networks

Digitization strategy measures

On 27 June 2019, with their working plan for the EDK’s digitization strategy, the Swiss cantons agreed on the measures needed to be taken in coordinated fashion throughout Switzerland as part of the EDK framework towards implementation of a digitization strategy. These measures should be seen as complementary to work currently under way at cantonal level. The EDK working plan is to be periodically assessed and updated. An overview of important products and projects occurring in the seven thematic fields of the EDK digitization strategy results in the following list:

  1. Data use in the education sector

    Basic report on data use (Data in Education – Data for Education)
    Federation of identity services (fides.educa.ch)
    Data exchange in vocational training (Optima)

  2. School organization and school management

    Framework for digitally competent schools
    Recommendations regarding the equipment of schools with ICT

  3. Pupils

    Model for digital competence based on syllabuses in the various linguistic regions

  4. Teachers

    Report on teacher training (activities at teacher training colleges)

  5. Research and innovation

    Access to data for research purposes

  6. New protagonists

    Orientation towards digital teaching and learning materials
    Dialogue format with new protagonists
    Handling digital data

  7. Network of education authorities

    Concepts for technical exchange and Digital first in the EDK network
    In-depth report on digitization as part of educational monitoring

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Last update of this page: 29.10.2019