DossierDigital Classrooms

Transatlantic perspectives on lessons from the pandemic

When it comes to digital innovation, Germans tend to look to the United States for the next big trend. That’s also true for digital education. The United States is a leader in EdTech, and U.S. schools are far more likely to use digital devices and technology in the classroom than schools in Germany. Yet the Covid-19 pandemic has confronted both countries with similar challenges. The limitations of EdTech became obvious as millions of students relied on these applications from home. Schools and educators struggled with questions of inclusion and data privacy.

We asked experts from both sides of the Atlantic to share their views of what worked and what didn’t in their countries - and to identify opportunities to learn from one another.

Digital Solutions

During the pandemic, Germany has been slow – and sometimes too slow – to use digital learning tools. In the U.S., where schools were quick to embrace them, they did not live up to expectations. Using digital technologies in schools requires a careful balance between pedagogical and social needs.

Data Privacy

Data privacy was often an afterthought as US schools introduced EdTech apps during the pandemic. In Germany, educators struggled to reconcile Europe’s strict data protection laws with the need to use digital tools.

Digital Inclusion

Online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated socio-economic inequities. Education systems need to provide equal access to devices and the internet, but they also have to help teachers and students acquire digital skills.

A Global View

The Covid-19 crisis hit many education systems unprepared. The OECD’s 2018 PISA study foreshadowed this outcome. The U.S. ranked better than Germany on availability and use of digital devices in schools, but both lagged behind Singapore or countries in Northern Europe.