Digital learning at vocational schools

Robots working as hotel assistants, dentures being produced in a 3D printer – this will be the norm for tomorrow's skilled workers. In order to prepare trainees as well as possible for this world of work, Hamburg's vocational schools are increasingly turning to digital teaching and learning concepts.

These include digital training portfolios, an extensive range of practical equipment such as 3D printers, learning robots or VR goggles, and even the school-wide introduction of the Moodle learning management system (LMS). Since the start of the year, the Hamburg Institute for Vocational Education and Training (HIBB) has invested around a further €2.9 million in innovative and occupation-related IT equipment for the schools, which in many cases have been rebuilt. The schools in the Elbinsel Campus in Wilhelmsburg represent a model for the connectedness of vocational schools. They intensively share their ideas and experiences of digital forms of teaching and are planning a joint computer centre.

In the new school year, a total of 48,368 pupils (2019: 49,305) will be enrolled at the 31 state vocational schools in Hamburg. Of these, around 37,750 will be taking the vocational training courses (dual vocational education and training, school-based vocational education and training, professional training, 2019: 39,173).

Senator for Education, Ties Rabe commented: "The digital teaching and learning culture at our vocational schools is safeguarding Hamburg as a location for training and business. We are training the skilled workers of tomorrow. The pupils in our vocational schools must be acquainted with the digital requirements of the world of work, actively use these and be able to develop them independently. We can see just how varied digital teaching is in vocational education and training based on the example of the three schools on the Elbinsel Campus. Here, IT investment and innovative teaching concepts go hand in hand."

Investment in digital equipment

From the start of 2020 to the end of August, the Hamburg Institute for Vocational Education and Training (HIBB) has used funds from the Digital Pact to place additional orders for IT equipment worth around €2.9 million. In total, these funds were used to purchase, among other things, 176 interactive displays, 2,703 notebooks, 101 PCs and 1,171 tablets/iPads. This means the vocational schools currently have more than 1,438 interactive whiteboards, 8,596 notebooks, 13,525 PCs and 2,416 tablets.

Dr. Sandra Garbade, HIBB Managing Director commented: "To support digital learning, it is essential to provide schools with innovative equipment. Over recent years we have laid effective foundations for facilitating this form of teaching and continue to improve these. Providing extensive support for education and teaching is equally important. All 31 schools link together to share their knowledge. We encourage this positive networking, for example by recommending a standardised learning management system, joint projects and inset training days."

Digital learning: projects, learning management system, cooperation

All 31 vocational schools are now able to gradually start using the centrally hosted Moodle Learning Management System. Teachers, for example, create courses via the learning management system using different media and make teaching materials available. They organise learning processes and interact with the classes. In September, all the vocational schools will come together for a training day. This will include sharing examples of best practice from digital teaching. The vocational schools are building on years of experience with using digital platforms for knowledge management in schools - teachers and pupils use these platforms to connect and share teaching and learning content. At both learning locations, the training company and the vocational schools, there must be effective coordination of digital learning and the acquisition of digital competences. HIBB is therefore using the current project DigiLok to help achieve the goal of integrating digital innovations within teaching. This is achieved in the learning location cooperation (LOK) by means of close links between vocational schools and companies. Trainers and teachers work together to integrate occupational requirements which have changed as a result of digitalisation within the curricula. This is under way in the areas of hospitality, office management and in medical occupations.

Elbinsel Campus, Wilhelmsburg: cooperation to support digital teaching

On the Elbinsel Campus in Wilhelmsburg, three vocational schools have established very close links with one another. They are providing training in the skilled trade and industrial occupational field, the social welfare and medical occupational field, and in the IT and services sector. The schools work across institutions on digital concepts and on the best possible facilities, and this also includes the planned, joint campus computer centre. The vocational school ITECH (BS 14) already has many years of experience with teaching concepts for the Moodle LMS. In 2019, the school competed for the national innovation prize for digital education with their "digITECH" digitalisation concept, achieving second place in the area of training and continuing education. The vocational school for Systems and Construction Technology (BS 13) has outstanding facilities in terms of occupation-related IT, and an example of this is their 3D print room. At the vocational school for specialist medical professions (BS 15), a priority issue is the digital learning location cooperation between practices and vocational school pupils, and this includes, for example, the digital training portfolio. The school's digital concept also includes an augmented reality space. In 2019, BS 15 received the school prize from the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the best vocational school in the "digital transformation".

The 2020/21 school year at the vocational schools

In the new school year around 48,368 pupils (2019: 49,305) will be enrolled at the 31 state vocational schools (figures subject to the data collection for the 2020 school year). Of these, around 37,750 will be taking the vocational training courses (dual vocational education and training, school-based vocational education and training, professional training, 2019: 39,173). Over the coming weeks, young people can also begin dual vocational education and training if they have found an appropriate training position.

Pupils still subject to compulsory schooling who have not started training after leaving Year 10, then attend "AvDual" training preparation classes and, with the help of placements and intensive support from mentors, focus on making a start with their own career. In this school year, a total of 4,249 pupils in all courses are attending the vocational schools for pre-vocational training (for example AvDual, AvM-Dual; 2019: 3,682).

There are 2,634 pupils on training courses leading to the university of applied sciences or higher education entry qualification (vocational higher-level secondary school, advanced-level commercial school, higher-level technical school, specialized vocationally oriented upper secondary school, specialised upper secondary school) (2019: 2,591). In 2020/2021, around 3,735 vocational school pupils took advantage of vocational school offers for continuing vocational education and training, for example as technicians (2019: 3,850).

Source: (website of the German Training Provider HIBB), revised by iMOVE, June 2021