Digital Media Literacy: Germany

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Part
01

Misinformation / DML Prevalence: Germany

Seven different events have been summarized below and full information is available on the attached spreadsheet. They show the spread of disinformation in Germany and the response of the German government and their populace to this propaganda.

Fighting Disinformation in Germany

  • Germany's plan to fight fake news was described in an article in the Christian Science Monitor in January 2017.
  • NATO published the results of the spread of a story called "The Lisa Case". This was a fake story about a Russian-German girl, who had reportedly been raped by Arab migrants.
  • The Integrity Commission, a German group, shines new light on Russian disinformation at a conference.
  • The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University published an article addressing the eight reasons why Russian disinformation is thriving in Germany, which included triggering already-existent anti-Western resentments.
  • The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs has established a new special unit for strategic communication, mainly focusing on countering disinformation and propaganda. The goal is to spread reliable information in a sustainable manner.
  • Germany is also using the military. A new Cyber and Information Domain Service (Kommando Cyber- und Informationsraum) was established in April 2017 to track and provide intelligence on foreign interference in government.
  • Formed in 2014, CORRECTIV is the first non-profit research center in German-speaking countries. They research long-term injustices in society, promote media literacy, and implement educational programs.
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DML Government Actions: Germany

Actions that the German government has taken over the past 5 years to respond to misinformation or disinformation, with express focus on digital media literacy or empowering users, have been provided in the attached spreadsheet.

Selected Findings

  • The German government's "act to strengthen children and young people" gives child and youth services the responsibility to teach media literacy, and considers it part of educational child and youth protection.
  • The "Inter-State Agreement on Youth Protection in the Media" specifies how and when certain media content may be broadcast or otherwise distributed, in order to protect youth from media content that can "interfere with or endanger their development or education".
  • In December 2016, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs adopted the Education in the digital world" strategy which contains objectives and action areas for the federal government, all 16 federal states, school organizations, schools and local authorities.
  • The city-state of Hamburg has a mandatory curriculum for its schools where children and adolescents are educated on the digital world and issued with media passports afterwards.
  • No education without media!” is a countrywide initiative that promotes media education in all areas of society.

Research Strategy

Due to the fact that most of the sources we found are in the German language, we had to translate them to English in order to retrieve the information required. We translated the websites using Google Translate and the reports and articles using Online Doc Translator.
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DML Players, Part 1: Germany

Five key players in the digital media literacy space in Germany are All Digital Europe, ICDL Europe, European Children's Film Association (ECFA), the Association for Media Education and Communication Culture (GMK), and Jugend Film Fernsehen e.V. (JFF). The names and websites of these organizations, as well as their stated goals, main activities, and other information have been provided in rows 5-9, column A-I of the 'DML Players' tab of the attached spreadsheet.

Summary of the Findings

  • Formerly known as Telecenter Europe, All Digital Europe was founded in 2010. It focuses on the empowerment of its member organizations to enhance digital skills and literacy by providing training and advice.
  • ICDL Europe was founded in 1996. As an international nonprofit organization, its goal is "to enable the proficient use of information and communication technology (ICT) that empowers individuals, organizations, and society, through the development, promotion, and delivery of quality certification programs throughout the world."
  • Founded in 1998, the European Children's Film Association (ECFA) focuses on the digital media literacy of children by providing and sharing film and media education among its members.
  • The Association for Media Education and Communication Culture (GMK) is a nonprofit "association of education, culture, and media that promotes and facilitates media education and media literacy."
  • Jugend Film Fernsehen e.V. (JFF) was established in 1949. It focuses on "investigating how younger generations deal with media through research and practical experience."

Research Strategy

To identify the key players in the digital media literacy space, first, we compiled a list of these companies obtained from EAVI's directory and those that are available from the public domain. The EAVI directory contains media, information and digital literacy organizations in Europe, globally, and some European countries, including Germany. Then, we reviewed each organization to ensure that they operate in Germany. Next, we reviewed the available initiatives and programs of each of these organizations that operate in Germany and with we found, we filtered them by those that appear to have a larger number of programs and/or initiatives. The whole sorting process can be found in this attached spreadsheet. With this, we obtained eight organizations but we've provided five based on the availability of the requested organizational details, such as the stated goals, main activities, the overall reach, among others. These five key players in the digital media literacy space in Germany are All Digital Europe, ICDL Europe, European Children's Film Association (ECFA), the Association for Media Education and Communication Culture (GMK), and Jugend Film Fernsehen e.V. (JFF).

Finally, for each of these five organizations, we searched and provided their names, websites, goals, and other requested details. These, we entered into the attached spreadsheet. Note that some of these websites are in German and we've used online translators, like Google, to obtain their English translations.
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DML Players, Part 1: German2

Five more key players in the digital media literacy space in Germany are Blickwechsel e.V., Medien Bildung, the FWU Institute for Film and Image in Science and Teaching, Kultusminister Konferenz (KMK), and the European Charter for Media Literacy. The first-three players are nonprofit organizations, while FWU and the European Charter for Media Literacy are a governmental organization and media regulatory body/charter, respectively. The goals, main activities, and other details have been provided in rows 10-14, columns A-I of the “3 — DML Players” tab of the attached spreadsheet.

Summary of the Findings

Research Strategy

To identify five more key players in the digital media literacy space in Germany, we continued with the same strategy that was used in the previous submission (DML Players, Part 1: Germany) in identifying the initial five key players.

This strategy was to compile a list of organizations that operate in this space, as provided by the European Association for Viewers Interests (EAVI's directory) and those that are available from the public domain. The EAVI directory contains media, information and digital literacy organizations in Europe, globally, and some European countries, including Germany. Each organization was reviewed and those that operate in Germany were noted for further research into their initiatives and/or programs. These organizations were then, filtered by those that appear to have a larger number of programs and/or initiatives. The initial application of this strategy yielded the initial five key players: All Digital Europe, ICDL Europe, European Children's Film Association (ECFA), the Association for Media Education and Communication Culture (GMK), and Jugend Film Fernsehen e.V. (JFF). Therefore, we excluded them and chose from the others with preference to the organizations with a larger number of initiatives/programs. The whole sorting process can be found in this attached spreadsheet. With this, we could identify Blickwechsel e. V., Medien Bildung, Kultusminister Konferenz (KMK), the FWU Institute for Film and Image in Science and Teaching and the European Charter for Media Literacy.

Note that KMK is a governmental organization/conference of the 16 education and culture affairs ministers in Germany; therefore, we provided the goals and main activities of its nationwide digital literacy initiative: DigitalPakt Schule (DigitalPakt School). These were obtained from the official legislative agreement in German, which we have equally provided the English translation.

Finally, for each of these five organizations, we searched and provided their names, websites, goals, and other requested details. These, we entered into the attached spreadsheet. Note that some of these websites are in German and we've used online translators, like Google, to obtain their English translations.


Part
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Part
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DML Initiatives, Part 1: Germany

Three major initiatives around digital literacy in Germany are Digital PaktSchule, a federal program to fund digital literacy in schools, Nelson Mandela School Curriculum, which teaches critical consumption of digital artifacts, and Live Democracy, a federally funded program to promote civic engagement and intercultural dialogue.

Case Study #1 — Digital PaktSchule

  • In this initiative, the federal government has provided funding for online tools and resources for professional educators to teach media use and critical thinking skills.
  • "The goals of the digital pact are the nationwide development of a contemporary digital education infrastructure under the primacy of education. To this end, countries are committed to implementing digital education through pedagogical approaches, curriculum adaptation, and the transformation of teacher education and training, in line with their Education in the Digital World strategy."
  • The initiative's funding became available in May 2019. There is massive support from the federal government in terms of funds and other resources. In Bavaria alone, 700 million euros are allocated to develop a total of 50,000 classrooms into digital classrooms in five years.
  • There was also vocal support from Chancellor Angela Merkel at the 4th Annual MINT (STEM) conference in Berlin in 2019.
  • The primary pitfall of this initiative is reflected when similar efforts are examined. In other attempts to teach digital media through the education system, some teachers with minimal digital literacy have sabotaged the program by continuing to teach the old curriculum the old way.

Case Study #2 — Nelson Mandela School Curriculum

Case Study #3 — Live Democracy


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DML Initiatives, Part 2: Germany

Two further case studies of digital media literacy in Germany include Medienpass NRW, in which the North Rhine Westphalia school district has created a framework for usage in teaching digital media in all years of school, and the Handysektor project, which provides resources on the safe use of smartphones. Full information is available here.

Case Study #1 — Medienpass NRW

  • In this initiative, the North Rhine-Westphalia's education act, where it states that pupils should "learn to use media responsibly and confidently," is implemented via a media competency framework.
  • The framework is designed to help teachers create an end-user targeted curriculum for primary and secondary school children to promote critical thinking in media use.
  • It is also designed to "improve the connection between schools and non-school activities".
  • The framework" is a source of orientation for instructors and teachers that helps them to understand what skills children and adolescents should have. A curriculum compass (Lehrplankompass) suggests how and where the relevant exercises can be integrated into the classroom. It also provides practical advice for teachers."
  • The framework contains six main competency areas and 24 sub-competencies. Six main areas include 1) Serve and apply 2) Inform and do research 3. Communicate and cooperate 4) Produce and present 5) Analyze and reflect, and 6) Solve problem and model.
  • The framework originated in 2010 and was subsequently assessed in 2017 to ensure it was aligned with the national directives issued in December 2016.

Case Study #2 — Handysektor

  • The State Media Authority sponsors this initiative, which is the umbrella brand of the 14 state media authorities in Germany. They are responsible, among other things, for the promotion of projects to impart media literacy.
  • This site provides online resources to the public and raises awareness of potential dangers when using smartphones.
  • While the launch date is not precise, the project is still active and has shown a significant boost in usage in the last two years.
  • A review of the website shows articles targeted toward answering current questions on not just smartphones but also the sites they can access. For example, new phrases on social media are highlighted (OK Boomer!), and types of YouTube videos (ASMR) are explained as well as for instructions on how to block app notifications.
  • It is difficult to see any serious or systemic pitfalls on this site. A review of the current content on the website shows useful but relatively innocuous information.


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Part
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The Future of DML, Part 1: Germany

While Germany is currently benefiting from relatively high digital literacy skills, the expected demand for future digital media literacy appears to far exceed projected supply. Moreover, the country's education system appears to need additional support to appropriately train future generations in digital media literacy, as discussed within the enclosed spreadsheet.

Insight Overview

  • The enclosed summary of digital media literacy insights for Germany presents a mixed forecast for the future, considering Germany's strong existing digital media literacy rates as well as challenges in educating future generations of citizens.
  • Overall, the European Commission recently reported that Germany's digital literacy is at the very top of EU countries, and will continue to be bolstered by enthusiasm among its citizens for internet use.
  • However, according to Gerlind Rennoch, a project consultant for Digitalisation and Education Service for the Elderly at the Federal Association of Senior Citizens Organisations (BAGSO), a gap in digital media literacy is likely to persist for the elderly until anxiety and other hurdles related to digital literacy are addressed for older citizens.
  • Moreover, digital media literacy organization DIMELI4AC concluded that the German school system is failing and remains unprepared to sufficiently educate and inform future generations of Germans about digital media literacy.
  • Similarly, a research study published in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education found that teachers in German's higher educations institutions are in need of additional development to address digital literacy in their curriculum.
  • This will become an increasing challenge for the country, based on an analysis by education organization Stifterverband and consultancy McKinsey, which found that expected demand for digital literacy and technology skills far exceeds current supply in Germany.

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Part
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The Future of DML, Part 2: Germany

According to insights provided within the enclosed spreadsheet, Germany appears to have established a strong foundation in digital media literacy. However, doubts exist over the ability of the country's currently digitally literate population to satisfy forecasted demand for such skill sets.

Insight Overview

  • The enclosed summary of digital media literacy insights for Germany presents a cautiously optimistic forecast for the nation's future, highlighting the country's strong momentum in building digital literacy while also emphasizing the challenge of meeting expected demand for these skills.
  • According to charity and think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research, Germany's future in the space of digital media literacy is a bright one, based on current investment in this space by both the public and private sectors.
  • Similarly, federally-sponsored media outlet Deutschland.de highlights the fact that the country has made tremendous progress since 2013 in strengthening the digital media literacy of its population, and is well-poised for continued improvements in this area based on existing initiatives.
  • Even a 2019 analysis by technology project diversITy and bank J.P. Morgan emphasized Germany's "great strides" in tackling digital literacy from a policy perspective, as well as how these existing programs will continue to help address the country's digital literacy skills needs.
  • However, according to German state-owned broadcaster Deutsche Welle, the nation's teachers may be an ongoing roadblock to digital literacy, given their discomfort with the subject and skepticism of technology more generally.
  • In either case, a more recent market analysis by diversITy and J.P. Morgan forecasts a significant shortfall in the supply of digitally-literate German citizens as compared with growing demand for this skill set across industries.

Research Strategy

Please note, the disclaimer at the beginning of the report Promoting E-skills training for Adiverse Tech Workforce by diversITy and J.P. Morgan highlights the fact that the study substitutes the phrase "ICT user skills" in place of the more commonly understood terminology "digital literacy." For the purpose of readability and convenience, we therefore substituted "ICT user skills" with "digital literacy" as appropriate for all direct quotes sourced from the report.
Sources
Sources

From Part 02