Take a look at the beta version of dw.com. We’re not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.
Germany is notorious for lagging behind in digitalization. Now, students have technical troubles as schools remain closed. But even countries with a better track record are having problems with remote learning.
For many German students, like Eric Grabowski, accessing the school’s digital platforms is a pain
Like all German students, Eric Grabowski can’t return to school after the Christmas break. With a country-wide lockdown just having been extended because of continued high rates of coronavirus infections, the tenth-grader will likely have to stay home until the end of January.
Right now, Eric should be having a French class online, the 15-year-old tells DW on the phone. “I’m sitting in front of my laptop, trying to access my school’s learning platform. But again, nothing works at all.”
Eric’s comprehensive school near Kaiserslautern in southwestern Germany is not the only one struggling with the transition to remote learning. In many parts of the country, pupils and teachers report similar difficulties.
“These server problems simply have to be solved,” Eric says. The tenth-grader is an active member of the student council in his home state of Rhineland-Palatinate. He supports school closures while infection rates remain high. “But we don’t even know if we’ll be able to go back to school in February. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to take my final exam this year. The digital lessons simply have to work. It can’t go on like this,” he complains.
Germany still seems to be lagging behind in remote learning — almost one year after the first coronavirus case in the country and more than nine months after the first school closures in March 2020.
German schools have long been struggling with digitalization, says Nina Brandau from German IT and telecommunications industry group Bitkom. An existing school digitalization plan was ramped up in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in July 2020, bringing the joint state and federal efforts to about 7 billion euros ($8.6 billion.)
“But it takes time for this financial aid to trickle down to the schools,” Brandau tells DW. “The application process is incredibly bureaucratic.” A myriad of federal, state, and local authorities are involved in the procedure in Germany. “Other countries are doing much better,” says Brandau.
Before the pandemic, there were only six computers for every 10 pupils available at German schools. 2018 figures from the OECD show that in other industrialized countries the number was much higher with up to nine computers for 10 pupils.
Lately, many German schools have focused on buying laptops. Eric Grabowski says his school finally got 120 laptops last autumn that were handed out to those without their own devices at home.
“But it doesn’t stop with buying laptops,” says Brandau. “We need teachers to be able to use digital tools and create meaningful education programs with them. For this, we need more training. And that is lacking.”
Another problem is the lack of fast and reliable Internet connections. “If you live in certain areas of Germany, your four kids just aren’t able to simultaneously attend hybrid classroom settings. Moreover, many schools also still lack high-performing internet connections,” Brandau says.
When asked for European countries that are faring better, Brandau names Denmark and Estonia. “They have used digital media in education for quite some time, with Wi-Fi available in all schools. Teachers and pupils were ready to use these tools.” Countries such as Finland or the Netherlands are also regularly cited as role models in Europe.
Remote learning has so far worked quite well for Dutch pupils such as this 10-year-old in Rotterdam
Yet, the coronavirus pandemic has come as a shock even for countries long considered frontrunners in Europe when it comes to school digitalization. Danish media researcher Jesper Taekke from Aarhus University says the pandemic had revealed that teachers in the country still did not have the IT skills needed for good digital education.
“They have a tough time adapting to the digital media environment. There is a lot of angst,” Taekke tells DW. “The government has invested huge amounts of money in hardware. Teachers have digital blackboards, networks, computers, and all that. But they have very little time to actually prepare lessons and come up with ideas for digital education.”
Taekke says his research shows that 8 in 10 primary school pupils in the country did not have access to real digital lessons during the pandemic but were just sent homework that they had to do on their own.
Problems in other European countries are more severe. Reports about crashed servers and a lack of hardware have come out of many countries, including Italy and Greece. And in the United Kingdom, a study by charity Teach First suggested that almost three in four head teachers say their pupils do not have sufficient access to digital devices and the internet.
The Department for Education in the UK says English schools are “well-prepared to deliver remote education”, with 560,000 laptops and tablets given to schools last year, and a further 100,000 this week.
However, in the UK and many other European countries, concern remains that children are being forced to start the school term without access to these devices or any proper strategy for them to engage with online learning.
Digital learning, it seems, remains a challenge for students and teachers alike, even in Europe’s richest countries. But it is especially difficult for younger students.
Oliver Best, an IT distribution professional, says his four sons are lucky because they have good equipment and he can help whenever there is a problem. His 8-year-old son is in second grade and had his first-ever video schooling session this week, after his school in Ludwigshafen in Germany’s southwestern state of Rhineland-Palatinate did not reopen after the Christmas break.
But most of the youngsters struggled says Best. “This morning, my 8-year old was the only one in his group who succeeded in getting the video conference up and running,” he tells DW via telephone. “Some of his peers couldn’t log in, some repeatedly lost their connection, and some could only hear the audio.”
Oliver Best is glad his son enjoyed his first distance-learning session. But, like so many other parents, he hopes that there will be a return to normal school life this year.
Politicians from all major German parties have repeatedly said that small children should be the first to return to school when infection numbers start going down.
var pymParent = new pym.Parent(
Almost one in ten schools in Germany have already been directly affected by the second coronavirus wave. Are they equipped for a possible second shutdown?
Germany’s lockdown has been extended for another three weeks. This time, the rules are even more stringent.
The coronavirus pandemic hit the German economy hard in 2020. While some suddenly had to fight for their very existence, others recorded unprecedented growth. We take a look back.
The Rise of Online Businesses: A Comprehensive Guide to Success
In a world increasingly connected through the internet, the possibilities for starting and growing online businesses have expanded exponentially. Whether you’re looking to escape the traditional nine-to-five grind, want to tap into a global market, or are simply passionate about a niche interest, launching an online business is a promising venture. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key steps to success in the dynamic world of online entrepreneurship.
1. Choose Your Niche
The first crucial step in starting an online business is selecting the right niche. Identify your passions, expertise, and market demand. Research the competition and look for gaps that your business can fill. A well-defined niche will help you target the right audience and stand out in the crowded online marketplace.
2. Develop a Business Plan
Just like traditional businesses, online ventures require a solid business plan. Your plan should outline your business goals, strategies, financial projections, and marketing tactics. It’s a roadmap that will keep you focused and serve as a valuable reference point as your business grows.
3. Legal Structure and Registration
Choose a legal structure for your online business, such as a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation. Register your business with the necessary authorities and obtain any required licenses or permits. This step is vital to ensure your business operates legally and efficiently.
4. Website Development
Your website is the heart of your online business. Create a professional, user-friendly website that reflects your brand and offers a seamless customer experience browse around this site. Ensure your site is mobile-responsive and optimized for search engines (SEO) to maximize your online visibility.
5. Branding and Identity
Build a strong brand identity that differentiates your online business. This includes designing a captivating logo, crafting a unique value proposition, and maintaining a consistent visual style and tone across all your online platforms.
6. E-Commerce and Payment Solutions
If your online business involves selling products or services, choose a reliable e-commerce platform and payment gateway. Offer various payment options to cater to your customers’ preferences and ensure secure transactions.
7. Content Creation
High-quality content is key to attracting and engaging your target audience. Develop a content strategy that includes blog posts, videos, and other relevant content that provides value to your audience. Consistent and relevant content can drive traffic and establish your authority in your niche.
8. Digital Marketing
Promote your online business through various digital marketing channels. These may include social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and search engine optimization. Tailor your marketing efforts to reach your specific target audience.
9. Customer Service
Deliver excellent customer service to build trust and loyalty. Respond promptly to inquiries, resolve issues, and seek feedback to continually improve your products or services. Happy customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and refer others.
10. Data Analysis and Adaptation
Regularly monitor your online business’s performance through analytics tools. Analyze the data to make informed decisions and adapt your strategies accordingly. The online landscape evolves quickly, so staying agile and open to change is essential.
11. Legal and Tax Compliance
Stay informed about legal and tax obligations relevant to your online business. Compliance is vital to avoid legal issues and financial penalties. Consider consulting with a professional accountant or attorney to navigate the complexities of online business regulations and taxation.
12. Scale and Diversify
Once your online business is thriving, explore opportunities for growth. This might involve expanding your product or service range, reaching new markets, or diversifying your income streams. Continual innovation is key to long-term success.
In conclusion, the world of online businesses offers endless possibilities for aspiring entrepreneurs. By following these essential steps, you can increase your chances of creating a successful online venture. Remember that persistence, adaptability, and a commitment to providing value to your audience are fundamental qualities of a thriving online business owner.
The internet has revolutionized the way we do business. If you have a unique idea, a passion, or a solution to a problem, there’s never been a better time to start your online business. So, why wait? Take the plunge and embark on your journey to online business success today.