The digitisation has long arrived in the middle of society and affects far more areas than just the world of work, even if it is already progressively developed here and the terms "industry 4.0" or "Internet of Things" (IoT) are often used. However, the education sector often lags behind these new developments and the resulting challenges. It can be assumed, that in future it will no longer be sufficient to impart a relatively large amount of knowledge in a short period of time, which will then also be tested in regular exams. The digitalised world demands new competences! Smart Schools are an innovative approach of the education sector to adjust to these conditions. These are areas in which pupils are able to learn digitally through appropriate educational opportunities. Basically, Smart Schools consist of three pillars which are equally decisive for the success of the concept.
On the one hand, tomorrow's Smart School will need a corresponding infrastructure that includes broadband connections, WLAN throughout the school building, cloud services, interactive whiteboards, mobile devices and intelligent school administration. On the other hand, another fundamental aspect of this modern approach is the subject matters which are being communicated as well as the educational concept. Teachers of the future should encourage the individual learning of pupils by using innovative learning methods and collaborative forms of learning becoming the key factor of educational success. Interactive learning environments will also be taken into account in the Smart School. New room designs are required to be able to convey digital learning content, among other things. Admittedly, both the appearance and the communication of the school outwards are subject to change, which will be reflected in the form of school-specific media concepts. In addition, teachers will of course retain a decisive role within the Smart School. They must be constantly trained and regularly attend workshops focusing on digitisation in order to pass on their knowledge and prepare students for the future. Although most of them are so-called digital natives, i.e. people who have already grown up in the digitalised world, they must be taught the specific skills and abilities that will be part of general education in the future.
A central question for the next few years will be how, but also what is learned and taught. How future learning content explicitly will be designed is certainly determined individually by each Smart School. However, it is obvious that, for example, intelligent classes will be created in which tablets, beamers, digital whiteboards and smart TV's create interactive sessions that encourage fun in learning. The teaching materials will also change, because in a technically experienced world, books are no longer haptic, but digital. This means that it is no longer necessary to carry heavy backpacks or rent a locker in the corridor of the school. Notebook and tablet are becoming the most important work equipment on which all documents are available. Individual notes and other information can be attached to the PDF books. Technical solutions can also take into account the constantly updated information. Teachers and students still have to evaluate the quality of the sources, but they can simply integrate them into the documents and thus have the chance to continuously improve their education and diversify their personality and interests.
The form of lessons themselves can also be modified by digital education in the Smart School. In the future, traditional face-to-face teaching, which is still common today, will be supplemented or even completely replaced by webinars and online seminars. With the help of technical possibilities, homework can be designed as online tests or in the form of a quiz which, like innovative forms of teaching, contribute to a relaxed, varied learning environment. Even the classic learning groups can be transferred to the Smart School. The online community can discuss projects outside the classroom or school building, share topics and ideas, as well as find solutions to specific problems. These online activities help students to deal with a topic in a longterm manner during the learning process, without perceiving it as an effort or possible workload.
Meanwhile, in industry it is no longer a rarity that (routine) work is increasingly outsourced to robots, artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms. Many modern production halls are characterised by the fact that the manufacturing process of the products is largely carried out by machines. However, technicians have other duties such as coordinating the use of industrial robots or smart production lines. They are also responsible for evaluating the robot data - which of course is generated in real time - and other IT problems.
In the education sector, it is also to be expected that AI will be introduced in the coming years. The first humanoid teaching robot to be funded as part of the "Humanoid Emotional Assistant Robots in Teaching" (H.E.A.R.T.) project of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) already exists. The goal of personalising and individualising the learning process is pursued by means of multimodal learning offers. This enables the creation of unique, tailored learning paths that adapt precisely to the learner's situation and take his or her specific needs and interests into account. Just as in industry, the use of AI is explicitly not about replacing jobs, but about creating new space for teachers. No matter how digitized the classrooms will be in the future, robots and AI are not all-rounders. In order to promote soft skills such as the ability to work in a team, creativity and a critical way of thinking by the students, real-life teachers will still be needed.
Currently, digital education, whether primary or secondary, is an exception rather than a rule. The technical innovations are only slowly establishing themselves in the educational sector and smartphones and tablets are often banned instead of actively involved in the learning process. As a result, students are skilled in dealing with social media and technical devices, which are usually an integral part of their daily lives, but there is a lot of catching up to do in terms of data protection and IT security. These topics need to be taught in the Smart Schools of the future, as well as spreadsheets and presentations. It appears that the digital revolution in the educational sector is still in its beginnings and that the world of work is already a few steps ahead in terms of digitisation. In the future, this will have to be made up in order to produce high-quality professionals for the labour market.
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