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Data protection-compliant learning: Digital tools for schools

by Redaktion
A girl in front of the laptop taking part in an online class.
Cloud infrastructures from Europe are in demand to ensure that online teaching complies with data protection requirements. 

In this article you will read about,

  • what to consider when using digital tools in the educational environment,
  • which solutions are suitable for digital learning in schools,
  • and why the Open Telekom Cloud offers the right infrastructure.

School children's data on the Internet requires special protection. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides for special rights of consent and approval when it comes to processing the data of minors, in other words children and young people under the age of 16. At the same time, calls for a comprehensive digitalization in schools and other educational institutions have become louder and louder, especially in recent years during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, educational institutions across Germany had to introduce tools for remote learning in lockdown or quarantine periods at short notice.

Often, communication platforms from international, especially American providers are utilized. The easy-to-use collaboration tools offer chat, audio, and video functions, document storage, the integration of various other services, as well as product specifications, which has been specially adapted for teaching and learning purposes. However, with Rhineland-Palatinate another federal state has now decided to use a European solution for the coming school year. The reason given was concerns about data protection of non-European providers as a result of the "Schrems II ruling" from summer 2020.

Data protection-compliant digitalization in German schools

However, this does not have to be a barrier to digitalization in German schools: There are European alternatives. For example, the data protection-compliant web and video conferencing system from BigBlueButton, which is also recommended by the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Based on the Open Telekom Cloud, the open-source platform was developed specifically for use in the education environment. Thanks to its open-source basis, it is possible to review and adapt the underlying code for security at any time. BigBlueButton offers schools and educational institutions extensive functions for online teaching – for chatting as well as for the collaborative editing of notes and documents, as well as for surveys, conferences, and group work. Together with Antares Project GmbH, T-Systems Multimedia Solutions provides this solution for schools in the state of Hesse, for example.

In June, Antares also migrated its Edupool component, which provides access to more than 110,00 pieces of educational content and educational solutions for students and teachers, to the data protection-compliant Open Telekom Cloud. Among other things, the tool offers an online-based media library and an app for digital student IDs.

Stable access to education server in Saxony-Anhalt

Students and teachers also access BigBlueButton via the state of Saxony-Anhalt’s education server. And the platform provides numerous other applications for digital learning from the cloud in a data protection-compliant manner. These include Moodle and emuTUBE: Moodle as a universal tool for organizing joint working groups or exams, emuTUBE as a tool for video-supported learning.

The performance of the education server in Saxony-Anhalt, even in the era of homeschooling with 25 million accesses per day, has been stable at all times. This is because the platform moved to the Open Telekom Cloud in 2021. To this end, Telekom developed a cost-effective, flexible and, above all, secure and data protection-compliant solution for the state and gradually migrated all applications for the schools in Saxony-Anhalt to the Open Telekom Cloud. The great advantage of the solution is that the state can flexibly increase and reduce its resources according to use and demand – and, in line with the pay-as-you-go model, only pays for the capacity it actually uses at any given time.

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