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Education in Germany

The comprehensive sponsorship of a digital pioneer

Every school is dealing with digital change differently. There is no one true path, so schools and providers have to decide for themselves what makes the most sense for their individual needs and circumstances. With the so-called "Solingen Model" we are presenting an exemplary approach that has proven itself in Solingen and whose approach can certainly be transferred to many other concepts. Dirk Wagner, CDO of the city of Solingen in matters of digitization, explained his solution to us.

Table of Contents:

1. Define the challenge for schools in lockdown

Schools across Germany are currently confronted with the same challenge: flying changes between classroom and distance learning and an unpredictable development of the situation are causing discomfort among decision-makers. And something else is the same: The lack of experience in dealing with a pandemic calls for new ideas and digital solutions in order to be able to continue teaching.

Get the concept for the “Solingen Model” now for free

In our concept for the Solingen model, all the information mentioned here is really deepened and exclusive insights into the cooperation between the city of Solingen and Sdui are given.

2. A solution: Explanation of the Solingen model

The Solingen model relies on hybrid teaching with the help of Sdui, among other things, to reduce the risk of infection. The classes are divided into two halves, which alternate between appearing at school week after week or being taught from home. For distance learning, schools use video telephony from Sdui so that the students can see the teacher at home and follow his explanations. But why did Solingen decide on this solution, while most schools are now continuing full face-to-face teaching with ventilation.


3. The way to hybrid teaching

What can contribute to a safe arrival in a digital future is a fixed plan based on an overview of the current conditions in schools and households. Dirk Wagner leads us step by step along his solution path.


3.1. The preparation

“It was important to us to equalize the risk of infection in local public transport and at the same time to ensure fairness in education,” Wagner describes the goal of the decision. In the first attempt at a solution, 100 school buses became 110: “That’s too few”. The reason for this was not the financial resources, but the limited capacity of the trolleybuses. A situation that forced the institution to rethink in order to still be able to achieve the important goal of safe education. In this process of rethinking, the “Solingen Model” was finally created, based on project planning for the digitization of schools that had already started two years earlier.

It is noteworthy how comprehensively the schools were previously equipped by their sponsor and included in the process. The Solingen model goes beyond mere school.
Before the introduction, Wagner and his team thoroughly checked the requirements. They…

  • considered bus capacities
  • checked the WLAN availability in schools and households
  • asked about the need for hardware
  • Provided hardware (> 8.000 iPads provided, 3.500 of them for children from financially weaker households)


In view of all these precautions, statements by critical voices, who claim that not all schools have access to WLAN, are also incorrect: “All 55 school locations have a fiber optic connection. The 15 secondary schools are already fully equipped with W-LAN, ”explains Wagner.



3.2. The digital implementation

After extensive preparation, a wide range of tools was made available to the schools. This also includes the school platform Sdui, which has been used in a variety of ways since then. While it is the main tool for digital organization in primary schools, secondary schools use a mix of the systems available to carry out the hybrid teaching: “It is important to us to give the schools freedom in their implementation. As a carrier, we want to create a framework in which schools can move and thus offer security and support ”.

The schools' reaction to this offer was very positive; after all, they too have the goal of keeping teacher absenteeism to a minimum and being able to guarantee safe working and learning. It also turns out to be beneficial to be free to choose which offers are used and to what extent: “The more that is available, the more creativity arises in the schools,” says Wagner and is pleased with the successful balance between strategic plan and Flexibility. It is important to continue to work with flexible modules and to involve the school administration office even more closely. Points in which Sdui will continue to play an important role in the future.


3.3. The look into the future

The wearer knows that the digital equipment is relevant for more than just distance learning. Digital elements are increasingly supplementing regular lessons and will become an integral part of the school of the future in order to enable simplified and faster processes. For some parents, the digital status is already an important influencing factor when choosing a school, which will continue to gain in relevance in the future. The sponsor kept the exchange with the parents transparent from the start: They were not only informed by means of a meeting, but were also given a voice in which their questions, wishes and concerns about the model were listened to and taken seriously. In this way, Solingen has really included all those involved in the school in an exemplary manner - even those who are usually left standing on the sidelines as spectators.

Get the concept for the “Solingen Model” now for free

In our concept for the Solingen model, all the information mentioned here is really deepened and exclusive insights into the cooperation between the city of Solingen and Sdui are given.

4. No secret recipe: Tips for school administrators to make their own school fit for the future


When asked what tips the CDO would give other school bodies in their approach, Wagner replied thoughtfully. First of all, it helped to have a solid plan that was adhered to no matter what. This avoids chaos and creates clarity in the process. Transparency is also very important: delays were clearly communicated and justified. Schools that were at the back of the planning stage were made aware that a set plan was being followed in order to ultimately ensure the highest standards for everyone. Thirdly, Wagner sees a particular advantage in the wide range that was made available to the schools, and so despite the security created, nevertheless encouraged the schools' creativity in finding solutions.

“In the end, the recipe for success lies above all in the fact that schools can learn from each other on this common path,” concludes Wagner, indicating the importance of a central administrative network. “We always want to keep in mind that we give our children good support in order to turn them into well-educated adults and thus invest in the society of the future. It's worth the effort ”. We have nothing to add to that. Thank you, Mr. Wagner!