Businesses hail digital revolution in the classroom

Doing your homework on the tablet computer- digitalisation is already on its way Keystone

The Swiss Business Federation economiesuisse says digitalisation will result in a radical change in how schools teach, adding that more individual support should be possible.

This content was published on February 9, 2018 - 16:18
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“Education is the key to success, on an individual level as well in the economy as a whole,” said economiesuisse chief economist Rudolf Minsch in a statement on Friday.

Switzerland’s dual education system – of apprenticeship and vocational training at special schools – gives it a considerable advantage in reacting quickly to technological and economic change, he added.

+ Find out more about Switzerland’s education system here.

The biggest revolution in education, believes economiesuisse, will be that schools can use digitalisation – digital and computer technology – to change how they organise their lessons. Digitalisation allows teaching to be tailored to the individual in a way that does not create an extra workload for the teachers, it says.

This means that differences in ability among pupils in the same class can be taken into account. But this does not mean teachers would become superfluous, argued Minsch. The classroom would not be replaced by a virtual one: social skills will still be developed through contact between pupils and teachers. Children will need some “non-virtual” time. This is why economiesuisse wants a “pragmatic but professional” approach to the digitalisation of education, he said.

First language and maths skills are still highly important, economiesuisse added, as is lifelong learning. Computer literacy, including programming, is also key. The main aim should be to awake interest.

“economiesuisse does not require the Swiss to become a nation of programmers,” Minsch said. But people should understand how a computer or robot works.

Nationwide strategy

In April 2016, the Swiss government launched a Strategy for a Digital Switzerland aimed at better integrating digital technologies into society and the economy.

A report by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation released last summer helped to define an action plan for the education system for 2019-2020, which included improving digital skills on a school level.

Some teachers have expressed concerns about integrating digitalisation into their lessons. Federation of Swiss Teachers President Beat Zemp said at a conference of teaching officials in November 2017 that he was convinced that schools would be able to adapt.

He added in an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper on February 9 that pupils could learn digital skills without dissolving the need for a classroom and that social skills could be learned there as well.

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