Brownbag Conversation Series: Digitalization in schools


Join us for a Brownbag Conversation with Meike Hethey (University of Bremen), who will present her research on the challenge of digitalization in the context of German schools.

Date: February 26, 2018
Time: 2:00 – 3:30p
Room: 418 Zankel (Teachers College)


Digitalization – a difficult process in German schools: a discourse analysis


Digitalization is a global phenomenon which causes changes in nearly every part of our social and cultural life, in economic production processes as well as in our ways of communication. The term digital revolution (cf. Garton Ash 2016) emphasizes the upheaval modern societies experience since more than a decade. And it puts the current changes on equal footage with the Industrial Revolution or the Enlightenment.

As a logical consequence, digitalization also became a key area in School Education. In 2016, the German Ministry of Education started its Educational Initiative for a Digital Knowledge Society, a program to promote digitalization in School Education (cf. BMBF 2016). The fact, that digitalization became a key topic of the federal government in a country like Germany, where the federal states traditionally are responsible for the public school system, emphasizes its overriding importance.

But what are the expectations for digital teaching and learning at school? By analyzing the public discourse (newspaper articles, educational blogs etc.) on the one hand and the scientific discourse on the other hand, the presentation aims at pointing out the key questions and arguments of the German discussion on digital education in public schools. Taking the debate in Foreign Language Education as an example, the presentation will argue that the discussion on digitalization currently swings between two supposedly contradictory positions: the true belief in technological innovation and all its life-changing possibilities on the one hand and the fear of possible negative consequences (i.e. particular risks of ways of digital communication etc.) for the personal development of students on the other hand. From a historical point of view the current discourse on digitalization therefore joins the pedagogical discussion on the educationalization of different phenomena of modernization since the 18th century (cf. Tröhler 2016, Smeyers & Depaepe 2008). The presentation will contextualize the discussion in its historical context before it concludes with some thoughts on the desideratum of a more subject-specific approach to digitalization (in Foreign Language Education).


Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (2016). Bildungsoffensive für die digitale Wissensgesellschaft. Online: https://www.bmbf.de/pub/Bildungsoffensive_fuer_die_digitale_ Wissensgesellschaft.pdf [02/05/2018]

Garton Ash, Timothy (2016). Free Speech. Ten Principles for a Connected World. London: Atlantic Books.

Tröhler, Daniel (2016). Educationalization ofSocial Problems and the Educationalization ofthe Modern World. In: Peters, Michael

A. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Singapore: Springer: 1-9.
Depaepe, M. & Smeyers, P. (ed.) (2008). Symposium on the Educationalization of Social Problems. Educational Theory, 58(4): 379-474.


About Meike:

Meike Hethey studied French, History and Educational Studies at the Universities of Bremen and Reims (France). She graduated with the First Civil Service Examination (2002) and did her teacher training in Hannover (Second Civil Service Examination in 2004). From 2004 -2011, she worked as a High School teacher of French and History. Since 2011, she is a University lecturer at the department of Foreign Language Education at the University of Bremen (key area: Romance languages).

In her Ph.D project, she explores how to teach aesthetic reading of literature in the foreign language classroom on an advanced beginners level (expected submission in 2018). Beyond that she is head of an interdisciplinary research project on transmitting literature and literary knowledge in (Foreign) Language Education at schools, in teacher education and in the non-academic literary field (Literaturvermittlung hoch3; in cooperation with Dr. Karen Struve).

Further research interests:

  • digital teaching and learning / digitalization as a challenge for the (German) school system
  • history of foreign language education
  • film education in the (foreign) language classroom


Looking ahead — Spring 2015

WinterTreesHi all,

Welcome back and Happy new year! We had a great start to the academic year, with the screening of “Unequal Education” (co-sponsored with the Media and Social Change Lab) and our inaugural meeting of the multimodality study study. It was wonderful to meet some new people last semester and we hope to continue to grow our reach within and beyond TC.

This spring, we have an exciting lineup of events, including guest speakers and a continuation of our multimodality study group. We would also like to hear from you — what kinds of events or gatherings would support your ongoing inquiries into language and literacy research and practice?

Finally, the special announcement: Please note that the deadline for the Call for Papers for this year’s International Linguistics Association Conference — to be held at Teachers College in April! — has been extended to January 31st. See the following note from ILA President (and CMLL co-founder) Jo Anne Kleifgen:

Below is our second Call for Papers for the 60th Annual Conference of the ILA

Please note our plenary speakers: Ellen Bialystok, William Labov, Ray McDermott, and Jacob Mey. A special WORD Global Roundtable simulcast will include Michael Halliday, Ruqayia Hasan, and Jonathan J. Webster speaking from Beijing Normal University.

 Please submit your proposals and share with colleagues!

Jo Anne Kleifgen, President, ILA
Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

Click here for the complete Call for Papers and additional information about the conference. We hope to see you there and at some of our other upcoming events!