At the beginning of the seminar the participants were asked: What specific, new and emerging risks does the digitalisation of schools pose for teachers? They answered the question with the help of the online-tool Slido (see graph).
What ist the new EU-OSHA campaign about? How is the campaign relevant for teachers and education? Maurizio Curtarelli, Project Manager of the campaign at the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), presented interesting statistics on the use of educational technology in the education sector based on the ESENER studies and the OSH Pulse survey: In the education sector the use of digital technology is higher than in the average of all other sectors. Most prevalent are psychosocial risks through the use of digital technology, e.g., increasing the workload of teachers, increasing violence or verbal abuse and harassment or bullying. Digital devices are primarily used for the surveillance of the teachers to automatically allocate tasks or working time. In contrast to this only a quarter of workplaces discuss potential OSH risks caused by digital technologies. On this backdrop Maurizio introduced the aims of the campaign and highlighted three priority areas as particularly relevant for the eduction sector out of the total of five priority areas of the campaign: Automation of tasks, Remote and hybrid work and Worker management through Artifical Intelligence (AI). Finally he gave an overview of the campaign resources. Link to the campaign website: healthy-workplaces.osha.europa.eu.
The introduction to the campaign was followed by a research report, two examples of good practice and a virtual round table. The presentations were accompanied by a lively discussion by the particpants.
Thomas Hardwig, senior researcher at the Georg-August-University Göttingen, presented the results of a representative study among 2.750 teachers at 233 secondary schools in Germany on the implementation of digitally supported teaching and learning, their working conditions and health situation.
The German digitalisation study has shown that the central challenge in the teaching profession is the design of interactions, for example with difficult pupils. This results in a high intensity of work, high emotional demands but also physical stress, such as noise. Compared to other sectors, teachers rate their working conditions as much worse. Teachers compensate for these stresses through the meaning of their work, their individual development opportunities, the school culture and their autonomy in the profession. The study revealed a digital divide between schools in Germany: between digital pioneer schools with a digital strategy for the development of their school and digital laggard schools with a poorly developed digital infrastructure and a lack of digital strategy. Such a digital divide has an impact on the well-being of teachers: better digitalised schools offer better working conditions and more professional development opportunities. The more involved a school is in digitalisation, the more likely it is that teachers will be involved in shaping a digital strategy, which promotes their health. Thomas named three factors that significantly determine the quality of teachers' work in schools with a digital strategy and a good technical infrastructure: (1) the opportunities for personal development, (2) the school climate and personal recognition, (3) the availability of information and supportive planning. The values for digital or technostress, which results from a mismatch between the requirements arising from digitalisation and the available digital tools, are correspondingly lower in digital mature schools.
Gerhard Zwetsloot asked about the effects of digitalisation on the relationship between teachers and pupils with regard to undesirable behaviour, such as bullying. According to Thomas Hardwig there is no reliable data on this so far, at least not from the Göttingen study.
David Magee highlighted new and emerging physical risks arising from the introduction of digital technologies in schools: Musculoskeletal disorders and risks to eyesight; tablets that get dirty, covered in bacteria and need cleaning; new projectors in suspended ceilings that cover cables and collect dust, posing additional fire and electrical risks.
Colin Campbell underlined the importance of ergonomic strain including the eyes and ears. He recommended an interesting new report: Sound in Schools & Its Impact on Learning & Teachers' Wellbeing: fcl.eun.org.
The next speaker, Jasna Tingle, head of the e-learning research and development service at the Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARnet), described how a digitally mature school system can be developed. She presented the nationwide "e-Schools" project in Croatia. The project had two phases: 2015 - 2018 and 2028 - 2023. At the end of the second phase, 93% of all schools in Croatia had increased their digital maturity by one to two levels. Jasna sees the reason for this in a comprehensive framework concept for the digitalisation of schools that is tailored to Croatian conditions. The concept is based on five areas: (1) leadership for digitalisation, including planning and management; (2) digital technology in learning and teaching, including support for teachers in integrating technology into teaching; (3) development of digital skills; (4) digital culture, i.e. the implementation of digital technology in daily operations and finally (5) digital infrastructure. A comparison between the results of the internal and external evaluation led to suggestions for improvement. Link to the e-Schools project: www.carnet.hr.
Minna Lakkala, researcher at the University of Helsinki, gave a comprehensive overview of "Critical digital competences in the school context" developed within the Erasmus+ project DETECT (2019-2021): DETECT goes beyond functional ICT skills and e-safety and instead encompasses a wider set of critical digital competences specifically tailored to the personal and professional needs of educators in the school context. Minna exemplified the eight dimensions of the Digital literacy framework by highlighting concrete issues like: What are the new critical skills needed, e.g. computational thinking to understand fundamental principles like how an algorithm works (Technology use)? What to know about the role of big data (Data literacies)? How to evaluate fake news (Information literacies)? How to include more co-creational activities in teaching and in the work with the colleagues (Digital content creation)? Furthermore: to respect the copyright (Digital citizenship); to make use of learning analytics (Digital teaching and learning); to get aware of ones own digital identity and how to treat other people in the media (Digital communication & collaboration) and last but not least: to take into account the positive effects of digitalisation on well-being like through empowerment (Digital well-being & safety). Link to the webpage of the DETECT project: www.detectproject.eu; link to report 1 and 2: www.detectproject.eu.
Gerard Zwetsloot asked Minna: How does digitalisation influence the organisational culture in schools?
The use of digital technologies should affect teachers‘ ways to collaborate and help each other, because nobody manages the change alone. Also new roles emerge among teachers in schools, e.g. ICT tutor teachers or digital tutors who have a responsibility to help other teachers in digital practices. In line with Thomas Hardwig, Minna emphasised that not only individual teachers are responsible for critical digital skills, but that this is a task for the entire school.
Three experts were involved in the following virtual round table: Martina di Ridolfo, Policy coordinator at ETUCE; Tobias Himmerich, CEO of EDUvation, Germany and Emmanuelle Brun, Senior research project manager at EU-OSHA.
According to Martina di Ridolfo from ETUCE, two dimensions need to be combined in order to manage the impact of digitalisation on teachers: the digitalisation of the education system and occupational health and safety. But how can the silos be overcome? Martina recognised the need for a holistic approach. To achieve this, digital tools need to be integrated into the classroom according to the professional needs of teachers and students. In order to address the needs of teachers, it is important to take their occupational health and safety concerns into account. But how can digitalisation be integrated into the field of occupational safety and health, e.g. in the new OiRA tool for higher education that is currently being developed? There are legal challenges, e.g. how can the OSH Directive be combined with AI? How will health and safety representatives in schools deal with the new complexity of a digital education system? Martina complained about a lack of in-depth research on digitalisation in education and a lack of concrete data on psychosocial risks. She calls for a study on the long-term effects of digitalisation due to the pandemic. The research focus is currently on wellbeing, but Martina missed the link to teacher wellbeing and the impact of teacher wellbeing on students. In view of the fact that digitalisation is currently the main driver of change in the education system, Martina emphasises the need for an accompanying reporting system and an action plan with a long-term perspective. Link to the EU-Social Partners e-speed project: www.csee-etuce.org.
Tobias Himmerich, CEO of EDUvation, stepped in for influencer Julia Steger at short notice. Tobias is a board member of the European EdTech Alliance, the umbrella organisation of 3000 EdTech companies based in all European countries. He represented the industry perspective and explained a growing demand and booming market for education technology (EdTech). The focus of his industry is on usability from the teacher's point of view. But his industry feels left alone by politics: The technical solutions are there, but there are barriers to users choosing which tool to use. There is no framework for teachers to guide them on which solutions to use and which not to use, which solutions are safe and which are allowed to use. As a result, teachers don't even start using the tools. This is mainly a problem in Germany, other countries such as Austria and the Nordic countries already have a "white list". The link to the white list of Austria: www.guetesiegel-lernapps.at. The internal goal of the EdTech industry is to make a teacher's life easier. There is no definition of EdTech. The term encompasses all technical solutions that support the education sector - not just educational tools, but also software tools for organising teachers' work. Link to EDUvation website: eduvation.de/en/home-en. Tobias Himmerich invited all seminar participants to take a look at the European EdTech Map and see some of the solutions - there are plenty of examples: www.edtecheurope.org/european-edtech-map.
Moderator Ulrike Bollmann questioned the criterion of usefulness as sufficient for deciding on the use of digital technologies. She asked about the impact of learning analytics on privacy and data protection, the impact of monitoring teachers on their autonomy, the impact of AI-based chatbots and avatars on the relationship between students and their teachers and the relationship with themselves.
Tobias Himmerich did not see these tools in Europe in the same way as in the USA. Furthermore, in most European countries, the school itself decides on the use of tools, and not everyone in Europe has to use a particular tool. On the contrary, the use of learning analytics could be the first time ever that a teacher is able to support children on an individual level.
If Ulrike's opinion can be addressed as "old school", how will it be possible for "old school" and EdTech to go together - was Gerrit Schnabel's question. According to Tobias, the reality in most schools is that the two work together: Teachers use the "oldschool" books and occasionally have a session with tablets for a specific task. Where teachers used to show a VHS video, this is now being replaced by digital videos and tools - but the flow of school lessons is still the "old way".
Emmanuelle Brun, who is currently managing EU-OSHA's work on digitalisation and occupational safety and health, was confident that what she heard at the seminar was in line with the key messages of EU-OSHA's new digitalisation campaign. However, from her point of view, there were also some differentiations: In the education sector, for example, the focus is not only on psychosocial risks, but also on the context in which digital technologies are used in educational institutions. She also recognised that the healthy and safe integration of digital technologies in the workplace is closely linked to a strategy. Conversely, a strategy for digital schools must include the perspective of health and safety in the workplace. In order for technological tools to benefit everyone involved, a holistic approach is required: a teacher-centred approach in which the technology is used to support the teachers. This is not just about the individual teacher, but about the collective of teachers. Emmanuelle reminded everyone that it is important to remember that health and safety regulations require employers to ensure that teachers are safe and healthy at work and that they are involved in the introduction of digital technologies. In addition, risk assessment should be carried out with the involvement of teachers, with a focus on mental health. Last but not least, occupational health and safety must be considered right from the planning phase, especially when integrating digital technologies into education: accordingly, the developers and designers of new tools must be aware of the specific risks of educational technology. Emmanuelle promised to publish new studies, data and examples of good practice in the campaign's newsletter, which will be published every two months. Finally, she drew attention to the campaign's Good Practice Award and invited all participants to submit their examples from the education sector. Link to EU-OSHAs Good Practice Award: healthy-workplaces.osha.europa.eu.
Ulrike Bollmann concluded the event with the wish that the aspects of health and safety that are so important in connection with the use of digital technologies in education be made explicit in every educational programme. She called for the development of a common understanding of digital wellbeing that also takes into account the positive aspects of digital wellbeing. She also called for more research into the impact of the use of digital technologies on the quality of education and, in particular, participatory action research in schools.
Ulrike Bollmann would like to thank all speakers and participants for the successful online event and her colleagues Johanna Mai and Eric Zech for their support.
1OiRA - Online interactive Risk Assessment tool https://oiraproject.eu/en Already existing OiRA Tools for the education sector are: OiRA Early Childhood Education and Care https://oiraproject.eu/oira-tools/eu/eu-education/oira-early-childhood-education-and-care/@@login?came_from=https%3A%2F%2Foiraproject.eu%2Foira-tools%2Feu%2Feu-education%2Foira-early-childhood-education-and-care#login; OiRA Secondary Education https://oiraproject.eu/oira-tools/eu/eu-education/oira-secondary-education/@@login?came_from=https%3A%2F%2Foiraproject.eu%2Foira-tools%2Feu%2Feu-education%2Foira-secondary-education#login; OiRA Educational establishments https://oiraproject.eu/oira-tools/lt/lt-test-sector/svietimo-istaigos/@@login?came_from=https%3A%2F%2Foiraproject.eu%2Foira-tools%2Flt%2Flt-test-sector%2Fsvietimo-istaigos#login