Informatics Education in Germany

Hello all and happy new year,

my name is Ira Diethelm and I am Professor for Computer Science Education at University of Oldenburg, Germany. There, I am responsible for teacher education for secondary and vocational schools for the subject Informatics. I am involved in several projects at my university for research on Informatics education and for development of teaching materials and resources.

As a member of the German Informatics Society (Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.), I also care for the political development of Informatics in schools and for the community of researchers in the field of Informatics Education (GI-Fachgruppe Didaktik der Informatik).

As a first post in this blog for Germany, I’ll just give a short introduction on the situation of Informatics in German schools. More information will follow in the upcoming posts.

In Germany we have a so called “hexadecimal” educational system :-)  because Germany consists of 16 states (Länder) and every state has its own educational system. As a result, we have many different names and types of public schools at K-12. For a brief overview in English and German please see the official documents of the “Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs” (Kultusministerkonferenz): http://www.kmk.org/dokumentation/das-bildungswesen-in-der-bundesrepublik-deutschland.html

As a consequence, Informatics teaching at German schools has many facettes as well. In most states Informatics is an optional subject at upper secondary level (10-12 or 11-13). At lower secondary level (5-9 or 7-9) the schools of many states also offer Informatics as an optional subject or at least as afternoon workshops. Only a few states already implemented Informatics as a compulsory subject at secondary schools (Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Sachsen). At primary schools there is no subject for Informatics but already some schools also offer workshops or integrate parts of Informatics education in another subject (Sachunterricht).

For an English overview of the situation in Bavaria as one (good) example please see the ITiCSE WG Report on “Computer science/informatics in secondary education” by Peter Hubwieser et al. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2078856.2078859

Due to the big variety of school systems in Germany we have also a big variety of curricula. For a deailed overview of the organizational structure and curricula in German language please see this summary: http://dil.inf.tu-dresden.de/Synopse-zum-Informatikunterricht-in-Deutschland.290.0.html

In 2008 the German Association for Informatics / Computer Science (GI) published a recommendation for an Informatics Curriculum for lower secondary level: “Grundsätze und Standards für Informatik in der Schule”. The full version in German can be downloaded here: http://www.informatikstandards.de. An English summary can be found here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1562877.1562965 Many schools and first states follow these recommendations and try to teach according to these standards. Also, much teaching material has already been developed referring to these standards, e.g. related to the “Informatik im Kontext” approach: http://www.informatik-im-kontext.de

That’s all for now.

Next post will be on the situation and education of Informatics teachers in Germany.