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Initiative Lernen in der digitalen Gesellschaft – English Summary

Initiative Lernen in der digitalen Gesellschaft – English Summary

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Initiative “Learning in the Digital Society – Open, Connected, Integrative”

Origins, Process and Prospects

Since 2011 the Ohu (Maori for working group) “Digital Integration and Media Literacy” has been active within “Internet & Society Co:llaboratory”. Members working in utterly different societal areas come together to analyze the important issues in this field of activity and to develop ideas and various approaches to the subject matter. Guiding questions are employed, whose terms and structures must be valid in the realm of Media, including web literacy. The question(s) promote an emancipated, responsible use of media that can be broadly and deeply anchored in our society in order to unlock the potential for participation of every acting member. The area of learning and therefore education institutions are placed at the highest importance thus constituting the central area of emphasis for the Ohu.

We are asking: “What does learning with digital media mean and what does it require?”, “What opportunities are made possible by the internet?” and “What concrete challenges will we come across?” - without deliberately striving for certain aims or focussing on specific age groups.

From this fundamental understanding and interest emerged the 7th Co:llaboratory-Initiative “Learning in the Digital Society – Open, Connected, Integrative” from the Ohu “Digital Integration and Media Literacy”, devoting itself to these pertinent questions. The contentual priorities within the thematic framework were passed over to 35 experts in October 2012 for analysis. With their diverse professional experiences (Academia, Business, Civil Society), an open exchange of varying perspectives took place. Aside from the initiators of the Initiative (core team), supporters and mentors Howard Rheingold, Stefan Aufenanger and Philipp Schmidt provided wisdom along the way.
The aim of the body of experts was to formulate requirements and concrete solutions as well as perspectives around the topic “Learning in the Digital Society”. They sought out active and constructive dialogue with key personalities and decision-makers in order to collectively initiate societal change.
The following subject areas rapidly crystalized to which the group of experts began their engagement:

  • Requirements for learning in the digital society
  • Openness related to learning with digital media
  • Literacies required for, and attained through, learning with digital media
  • Relation between on and offline learning
  • Digital learning instruments, formats and environments
  • The future of learning

The final report at hand is a pooling of insights and results from the four month long activity undergone by the experts. The report is the first publication expressing this degree of diversity and expertise in the examination of Learning in the digital society.

Executive Summary of the Final Report

The technical developments of the past few years bring with them fundamental processes of societal change. Our everyday lives are increasingly shaped by interactions in the digital: we are evermore employing digital services for information procurement, communication, participation, societal cooperation and as creative outlets.

We are exploring possibilities that have long been undiscovered and organizing ways in which our lives can be supported by the digital. This is also valid for societal participation: for through digital and mobile media, there are more possibilities to partake and to co-create at our disposal than ever before. Nevertheless, to seize these opportunities and employ digital media for a democratic coexistence we must shape the parameters, making it as possible to the furthest extent for all members of society to be able to learn. This is a task manageable only through a multistakeholder approach. From December 2012 to January 2013, the experts of the 7th Co:llaboratory-Initiative “Learning in the Digital Society – Open, Connected, Integrative”, stood up to this challenge as the multistakeholder group.

The results of the discussions, debates and visions of the 35 experts will be presented in the Final Report at hand. Their contributions will span a range of issues from the requirements and foundations for the arrangement of learning in the digital society to capabilities and concepts of learning with digital media. Simultaneously, they critically engage in a topical debate on Open Educational Resources or MOOCs and take a visionary look into the future of learning in a society characterized by the ubiquity of digital structures.

The first chapter of the volume discusses the fundamental considerations and requirements of learning in the digital society.

In their contribution, “Free and Open Sources, Open Access, Creative Commons und E-Learning – Remix Culture für das Lernen mit digitalen Medien”, Maik Stührenberg and Sebastian Seitz investigate which factors must be preexisting for successful learning in and with digital environments, utilized not just by a few but by many (i.e. all societal actors). The address several existing pitfalls, that according to them could hamper learning with digital media at primary and tertiary institutions of education. In the focus of Maria Süß, Isabell Rausch-Jarolimek, Julia Leihener and Kristin Narr's article are the literacies required for, and attained through, learning with digital media. Here, the authors analyze the necessary literacies or competencies in terms of requirements on the one hand, while on the other hand pinpointing certain competencies that can be acquired through the utilization of digital media.
The shortage of implementation strategies for the acquirement and media pedagogical training of educational professionals is thematized in the article by Franziska Buschhaus, Katja Friedrich, Ilka Goetz, Lea Schulz, Daniel Staemmler and Günter Thiele. Under the title “Neue Medien in der Pädagogik – Herausforderung für eine nachhaltige Mediengrundbildung für pädagogische Fachkräfte” the authors put forward six dimensions, that should be taken into consideration in the future of (further) education of pedagogic professionals. In order to mirror the multifaceted nature and diversity of the calls for action in this area, the dimensions will be illustrated by selected examples taken from daily practice.
The last contribution to this chapter by Lisa Kretschmer, Jörg Eisfeld-Reschke and Kristin Narr aims at speculating the most desirable forms of practice. The authors note that when discussing digital collaboration, concrete tools and instruments are often put in the foreground and the questions posed are usually practice oriented, concentrating on suitable applications. This article therefore shifts the attention towards an approach looking at the prerequisites, challenges and uses of digital collaboration and establishes a connection to learning with digital media.

The second chapter deals with the capabilities and concepts of learning with digital media.

Under the title “Offline-Online - Erhöhung von Bildungsvielfalt durch Transformationen”, Timo van Treeck, Birgit Kampmann and Dörte Ahlrichs list the advantages of online learning and place them in opposition to arguments for modes of learning without digital media. In doing so they come to the realization that the challenges lie with creative usages of offline and online aspects of the learning process. In addition, they emphasize that various possibilities to facilitate learning-relevant transformation must be taken into account in the future.
On the basis of seven examples Melanie Unbekannt, Jan Ulmer, Isabel Zorn and David Klett discuss the question “Welche Mehrwert bieten digitale Medien im Unterricht?”. This piece attends to the practical implementation of digital media in a lesson. For the authors it was essential to analyze to what extent the use of digital media offers a significant added value for teachers and students.
In a related article Luise Ludwig contemplates the challenges of a sustainable implementation of tablets in school and learning-culture. Alongside the conditions required for a sustainable implementation, she focusses on didactic and organizational aspects, that speak for a mobile media concept.
The subsequent contribution provided by Daniel Seitz, Marcus Paeschke and Christoph Pardey take into account the opportunities of a location-based-learning application, used outside of scholastic institutions and extra-curricular activities. The authors examine the potential need for such an application and assess the utility of comparable options in educational activity.

The third chapter focusses on the topic, learning with open learning materials. The current discussion in Germany revolving around Open Educational Resources is taken up and expanded through a fresh impetus of the experts.

Today, if learning and education with digital media is the topic of conversation, then the terms media literacy and digital integration are sure to come up. Jöran Muuß-Merholz asks in his segment the fundamental question: What does Open Educational Resources have to do with media literacy and digital integration?
How “Open Access”, a term that has been used primarily in the areas of further education, can be connected to “Open Educational Resources”, a term used in Germany mainly in relation to primary and secondary education, is the focus of Christian Heise's contribution. The author sheds light on the potential that could come out of a combination of the two movements. The point of departure for his reflections comes from the recognition that both movements pursue the same goals, namely, the opening of knowledge.
Jöran Muuß-Merholz positions the question “What does Open Educational Resources have to do with good schools?” (“Was das Thema Open Educational Resources mit guter Schule zu tun hat”) in the realm of primary and secondary education. The author argues that the potential offered by digital materials, instruments and platforms in the classroom are often met by substantial hurdles. Muuß-Merholz sees the chance to overcome these hurdles and perspectively better the everyday school routine through the application of Open Educational Resources.
We conclude the chapter as well as the debate and discussion of Open Educational Resources with personal reflections from David Klett. In his contribution, the dark side of OER (“dunkle Seite der OER”) is explored and it is postulated that the current debate could be a bit too one-sided.

The fourth chapter “Visions” provides a view into the realm of imaginable, prospective developments and spheres of activity related to learning with digital media.

Zorah Mari Bauer met with experts and pioneers in their fields to discuss the changing paradigm of education and learning (“Paradigmwechsel des Lernens”). In the format of a so-called BIG-Picture, she presents the opinions and definitions of education 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 while drafting a picture of the education of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
In the following article, Tina Deiml-Seibt, Julia Leihener, Bastian Hamann un David Röthler outline possible scenarios for education and learning in the year 2023.
As an international supporter and advisor of the Initiative, the renowned expert Howard Rheingold acted as a broker to the body of experts. At the behest of the experts of the Initiative, Rheingold's contribution to the Final Report accounts his journey as an educator culminating in an in-depth analysis of his current project “Peeragogy”. The aim of his formulation seeks to explore the changing paradigm from teacher-centrism to peer-education. A vision, that from the stand point of the experts and initiators of the 7th Initiative of Co:llaboratory must be centrally envisioned in learning and educational processes, to come closer to the aspiration of an open, connected and integrative digital society.

Further recommendations of the experts can be found at the end of the report.

Kristin Narr
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