20th Educational Repositories Strategic Seminar

The 20th Educational Repositories Strategic Seminar took place on 26 – 27 April 2023 at the Institut für Film und Bild (FWU) in Munich, Germany.  Presenters and participants who took part represented organisations from Austria, Ireland, Greece, Germany, Italy, and Belgium.  The objective of EdReNe meetings is to nurture forums for the exchange of expertise and best practices in managing educational content repositories at the K-12 level in Europe. The FWU in collaboration with EUN, organized the event and invited experts to address the theme of "New developments in media and infrastructure for schools".

A common theme among the presentations was the quickening pace of transformation in the domain of educational media and the increasing maturity and complexity of technical infrastructures. The impact of this trend is visible in:

  • the development of quality standards around learning resources steered by FWU projects,
  • the increasingly important role of media and technology such as AI as both teaching mediums and subjects of teaching and learning scenarios,
  • significant maturity in current infrastructures supporting the evolution of digital learning resources and finally,
  • the availability of funding at national levels in some European countries that is enabling the evolution of these digital ecosystems.

Dr. Susanne Friz (FWU) presented the work and evolution of FWU across 70 years. Initially, FWU, whose shareholders are the 16 German federal states, involved collaboration with broadcasters and the production of educational media as 16/8 mm films and audio tapes, etc., over time the media moved on to DVDs and other types of formats.  More recently FWU developed and manages a federal media infrastructure, making it possible to find and create content descriptions, to store media and involve teachers in content creation and sharing.  Today, in the presentation of Andreas Koschinskym we see the wide scope of FWU activity: providing media library services for German schools, a portal for vocational education and developing technical and legal standards for digital education media, to name a few.  

The work of FWU on standards was presented in more detail by Lukas Peh in eduCheck digital – Development of technical and legal standards for digital educational media including test procedures. The eduCheck project’s goals are to develop a seal of approval for digital educational media in Germany.  The seal is intended to indicate that a media object meets standards of accessibility and usability, technological standards related to security and interoperability as well as complies with legal frameworks and privacy standards. eduCheck is a multi-phase covering a wide spectrum of issues around establishing and implementing quality standards.  The work involves establishing governance frameworks, catalogues of test criteria, actual tests and a media classification that can be used to review digital educational media.  The development of IT infrastructures to enable eduCheck quality tests is also part of this endeavor as well as the publishing of content catalogues consisting of media that have met the established standards and that have gone through the testing process.

The potential of virtual reality as a learning and engagement tool in the classroom is being explored by the National Institute of Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research (www.indire.it). Ilaria Bucciarelli and Andrea Benassi, in The Virtual Student Debate presented findings from a preliminary study conducted in Italy on the development of a virtual reality application for schools, aimed at supporting remote debating between students.  The case study raised important questions about the role of this technology as a new type of learning environment and the training necessary to prepare teachers and schools to use these tools effectively and equitably.

Technologies such as virtual worlds and AI will shape education and everyone’s lives in multiple ways.  Given these trends, a common theme of the seminar has also been the need for teachers to be trained to teach the basics of AI to students at various levels.  Prof. Schmid from the University of Bamberg in AI goes to school -- learning about and learning with artificial intelligence offered insight on the evolution of AI’s history and its relevance as part of the curriculum that can offer a realistic assessment of what AI is and what it does.  This means that teachers and students must have a basic understanding of how AI algorithms work. In this Prof. Schmid described the challenges faced by educators and teacher trainers in identifying relevant AI topics and methods, the challenges of teaching different age groups as well as teaching students with and without background in computer science and the overall need to better integrate AI as a topic in training computer science teachers.

Rola Hulsbergen, (Education Alliance of the Netherlands) described the newly established funding stream in the Netherlands part of which is dedicated to programs defining and developing teachers' competencies needed to work in AI-rich education settings. This has been made possible because the Dutch government has decided to foster economic growth by establishing a Growth Fund of five billion euros.  A similar theme of governments committing funding to digitize heretofore inadequately supported areas of education can be seen in the impact of the Digitalpakt, a program launched by the German federal government.  Sixteen German states agreed on a mandate for a digital infrastructure for cooperative and collaborative work by all teachers at vocational schools plus a free information and interaction platform. The tangible outcomes of this mandate were described by Dietmar Hefendehl of FWU.  The presentation covered the creation and expansion of HubbS which is a portal and collaboration tools for vocational education. 

Another example of the increasing emphasis on digital competences for teachers came from the presentation of Thomas Heiland from Academy for Teacher Training and Personnel Management (ALP) at the University of Augsburg.  His talk detailed the integration of digital competences into the teaching training curriculum at the university. This effort is driven by the Centre for Digital Teaching and Learning (DigiLLab) at the University of Augsburg established in 2019. It was founded with a mandate to promote and further develop teacher training.  DigiLLab supports students and lecturers in acquiring competence in the effective use of digital media to promote teaching and learning and educational processes. The good example of embedding digital competences in teacher training has now broadened to include questions of the digitalization of university teaching in general, and thus this effort has had an impact on the university more generally.

At the close of the event, participants expressed interest in continuing the series of in-person seminars.

You can access the presentations of the 20th Educational Repositories Strategic Seminar below:

AI Goes to School - Prof. Ute Schmid

eduCheck Digital - Lukas Peh

Federal Education Media Infrastructure - Andreas Koschinsky

FWU Institut für Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht gGmbH - Dr. Susanne Friz

HubbS - Portal for vocational education - Dietmar Hefendehl

The Dutch Growth Fund - Rola Hulsbergen

Towards Smart Skills Content Discovery Services - Elena Shulman, PhD, MLIS and David Massart, PhD

Trends and tendencies in the State three-phase teacher education (initial and continuing training) with a focus on online scenarios - Dr. Thomas Heiland