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.

Developments in the area of (digital) education of Switzerland

Illustration «Learning in the ecosystem»: Hybrid networks penetrate the borderlines between analogue and digital learning resources inside and outside the school. Formal, non-formal and informal education is evolving into a new ecosystem.

Digital and analogue developments are tending towards convergence in the second quarter of the 21st century. Three distinct landmarks define the new educational ecosystem..

Illustration ecosystem  - detail 1

The first of these appeared in the 1980s, when personal computers and screens with graphical user interfaces gradually replaced more conventional tools. The procurement and organization of software and hardware became a central task of school management and education administration. Together with the new media, further training courses for and personal initiatives by teachers increased the repertoire of teaching methods. The third industrial revolution underpinned the shift from input to output models in the management of education. The developing search for ways of organizing schools and teaching more efficiently focused attention on ICT-supported teaching. However, for the time being, a cultural change failed to take place. Compared with other countries, Switzerland has to date lagged behind the European average.

Illustration ecosystem - detail 2

This brings us to the second landmark: the World Wide Web and the rapid spread of internet use. The spotlight turned to the "digital supremacy" of the human race: beings who were able to make productive use of the possibilities of digitization, help to shape them, and also process them critically. Digital technologies were transformed into media, available anytime and anywhere. For education, this development phase meant fusing pedagogical instruments and processes with areas of life outside school and teaching. It was followed by metaphors such as the digital educational landscape, concepts such as computational thinking, and finally the integration of media and computer science in curricula. On a systemic level, the ubiquitously networked digital world posed completely new challenges and questions: supremacy over the education offered, legal certainty, cooperation with new protagonists, and trust in the educational area.

Illustration ecosystem - detail 3

Today, a third landmark characterizes everyday life in all areas of life and learning. Networks penetrate the boundaries between digital and analogue methods. Teaching, school and education administration generate usable data at split-second intervals. As a result of interactions between humans and machines, Big Data, data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain have become part of personalized learning and teaching processes. Our future understanding of education will take its guide from this and build on the new potential. In a digitally transformed education system, school and teaching will increasingly focus on the personal development of young people, as opposed to systems capable of learning. Digital learning networks will not replace analogue learning and teaching but form a structural context in which multiple protagonists can guarantee the availability, access and use of data and knowledge.

Further landmarks will follow. All in all, they represent the momentum of digital change. They blur the familiar boundaries between formal, non-formal and informal education. A new ecosystem of hybrid networks will create time and space for the individual development of skills and expertise within and outside school. And it calls for new, viable partnerships for the careful use of data while recognizing the entirety of its potential, opportunities and risks.

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Last update of this page: 14.09.2020