“Students need a digital toolbox to shape their future”

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Foto Florian Sochatzy Full Body Treppe
Dr. Florian Sochatzy CEO, Institute for Digital Learning, Munich, Germany

Dr. Florian Sochatzy, CEO of the Institute for Digital Learning, is associated with ‘Jumpstart’, an event led by German Book Office, New Delhi, as the South Asian node of Frankfurt Book Fair. Jumpstart is the connecting ground for everyone involved in creating and disseminating content for children. The event is scheduled to take place in August at the India International Centre in Delhi and Bengaluru. In an email interview with Mishika Bangia, Dr. Sochatzy shares his ideas about building an international digital community to solve pending problems in schooling.

Edited Excerpts from an interview.

How will Jumpstart help in the betterment of teaching-learning transaction?
It is important to hold an international dialog about the future of digital education. Due to different cultural and educational backgrounds and experiences people from India and Europe can learn a lot from each other. Together we can combine our resources and ideas in order to develop better content and learning material. I really like the idea of an international digital community that solves pending problems together.

What is the future of education as you see it?
The world is changing rapidly and ­radically. Professions and activities which appear normal to us today will disappear within the next few decades. Therefore, we have to develop an education that is very different from schooling today. Children do not need to learn tons of facts and figures by heart. They need to learn how to deal with this massive amount of information. Therefore, we need more flexible and creative problem-solving techniques in schools. These skills will be the major asset in our foreseeable future. Digital tools and environments can create communication – and knowledge spaces where self-motivated learning can take place.

What is the most crucial aspect that must be added in primary and secondary level schooling?
In addition to independent problem solving and thinking, pupils have to acquire digital skills.

Students need a digital toolbox in order to shape the future. If they don’t know how to make use of certain applications, they will only be consumers and not producers. This distinction will possibly divide whole societies. People without digital skills will have massive problems in the future. Therefore, pupils need to acquire hardware and software skills.

Moreover, the aspect of individualization will play a vital role. Digital learning tools can provide individual support that is impossible in normal classroom situations.

How do theory and practice play a vital role in the evolution of students?
Without practice, a theory is senseless whereas without theory no practical implementation can arise in a meaningful way. Pupils have to understand why they learn certain subjects. If students understand how they can use facts to create new software application in order to solve a problem, the subjects get a new importance.

What can be the foremost area of teaching from the angle of childhood development and benefit?
Individualization, better ways of communication and free thinking instead of swotting.

What’s your take on social ­responsibility as an additional ­subject in schools?
Social responsibility should be an important topic in almost every school subject. Therefore, we do not need an additional subject.

How will Jumpstart help lead ­innovators and creators?
The exchange between experts can always lead to new questions and insights of educational content design. I am really looking forward to this kind of process.

Do you believe that sign languages should be taught at the school level?
I think all students should be able to communicate with each other. The basis for this is mutual respect. The difference should be normal and not a cause for quarrel. So, we should rather teach mutual respect than sign language. If we respect each other, we will have an intrinsic motivation to communicate with each other and therefore we will find (technical) solutions to talk to each other. Diversity is a chance, not an obstacle.