Education

The competent use of digital technologies and media is a key skill for participation in society, lifelong learning and increasing opportunities on the job market and thus also a prerequisite for preventing a digital divide. No child or young person should leave school without basic digital skills. Alongside technical abilities and knowledge about technology, a critical and reflective approach to technology must also be encouraged as part of media education. In addition, awareness of data protection and the responsible handling of data play a significant role. The ability to research and find information and to evaluate it critically is an important aspect of digital literacy. Digital education should be widely integrated into the curriculum in Austrian schools and should be taught as early as possible – in nurseries – and at the same time in an age-appropriate manner in order to sustain the enthusiasm and interest of children and young people.

A well-qualified workforce significantly increases the attractiveness of a business location. First, everyone should have basic digital skills; second, experts and specialists are needed in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in order to be able to compete in a global marketplace. Subject-specific education in schools should lead to qualifications that are relevant to the job market. The existing gender gap in the IT industry must be addressed and the representation of women in STEM fields increased.

Measures

  • Consolidate existing initiatives and present a new overall digital strategy for schools in the first quarter of 2017
  • Teach digital skills to school pupils in line with the digi.komp model and ensure that these skills are acquired via digi.check (see also http://www.digikomp.at/)
  • Teach basic IT knowledge (coding, computational thinking) and encourage a fun approach to technology at primary school
  • Encourage the reflective and responsible use of technology (media education, data protection, ethics) at school and provide hands-on programmes for adults to help them improve their media skills
  • Strengthen subject-related and vocational training in key IT development areas such as network technology, business IT, commercial data processing and databases, digital business, computer engineering, media informatics and medical informatics
  • Introduce special measures to increase the participation of girls and women in the digital and technical sectors

In line with the objective of providing the best education for everyone, digitization can be a crucial factor in opening up access to education. Linking 21st century technologies to modern teaching models will improve the quality of teaching and learning in education and training. To fully exploit the potential of digital media and tools, the education and training of teachers is a key factor. Well-prepared digital educational materials offer the opportunity for effective use. To this end, the ideal framework must also be created, e.g. in terms of network, hardware and software infrastructure. Fair and sustainable models that contribute to equal opportunities in education will be introduced to improve access to digital media, in particular for educational institutions and learners.

Measures

  • Strengthen the digital skills of educators through training measures for the effective practical use of digital media and eLearning in lessons (teaching methodology) and through new forms and models in education and training (e.g. MOOCs and expansion of the Virtuelle Pädagogische Hochschule [Virtual College of Education])
  • Develop peer learning models for the dissemination of site-specific eLearning concepts (knowledge transfer: experts’ school – beginners’ school) and promote networks of innovative schools
  • Gradually introduce digital and interactive school books; make digital educational media and also openly licensed and free educational materials (Open Educational Resources, OERs for short) available; increase the availability of (self-organized) further training programmes
  • Reinforce the use of innovative educational technologies (e.g. flipped classroom)
  • Launch the Foundation for Innovation in Education 2017, which focuses in particular on the topics of digital education and accelerating EduTech (fund endowed with €50 million)
  • Optimize the framework for the use of technology at school sites, in particular by increasing the availability of Wi-Fi and broadband
  • Increase the use of open source software

At universities and colleges of higher education, the use of digital technology is increasing both in teaching and in the publication sphere. It offers numerous opportunities and at the same time requires educational and teaching approaches to be further developed. It must be ensured that it is legally permissible to share and expand teaching and learning materials and that appropriate quality assurance measures are taken.

By enabling users to learn at any time and in any place and focusing on individual requirements, the new technologies also offer great educational potential in adult education, continuing vocational training, extracurricular youth programmes and parent education.

Measures

  • Continue to develop the eInfrastructure repository initiative in line with the University Structural Funds Ordinance
  • Reach an agreement on the creation of electronic teaching and learning programmes in the context of performance objectives with the universities and strengthen the multi-institutional initiative Forum neue Medien Austria [New Media Forum Austria]
  • Ensure that the publication of teaching materials becomes standard. Publication should be protected by licences, which allow the materials to be shared and incorporated in other learning programmes
  • Prioritize digital competence training programmes for adult educators (e.g. adult education MOOCs) and new non-formal and informal education programmes delivered digitally (e.g. webinars, serious games) in extracurricular youth programmes and parent education