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Special Edition

Perspektiven von Wissenschaft und Praxis auf die digitale Vernetzungsinfrastruktur für die Bildung

opening Message
  1. Perspektiven von Wissenschaft und Praxis auf die digitale Vernetzungsinfrastruktur für die Bildung - Vorwort zur Sonderausgabe

    This special issue includes scientific articles and practical reports related to the digital networked infrastructure for education, formerly called the National Education Platform. The issue gives an impression of the breadth of projects and approaches that deal with questions of digital education, the necessary competencies for the future of digital collaboration and many other topics as part of the funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The aim is both to update the level of information on the initiative among the professional community and to highlight the existing potential for further research and development in this context.

Empirische Grundlagen

  1. Nutzungsanforderungen, pädagogische Überlegungen und Grobstruktur einer digitalen Vernetzungsinfrastruktur für die Bildung - Konzeptionelle Verdichtung empirischer Erkenntnisse

    The funding program "Nationale Bildungsplattform" by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research aims to develop prototypes of an education-sector-spanning, transdisciplinary meta platform that offers access to teaching and learning formats. This article takes up the sometimes controversial discussion on this initiative and discloses the associated media pedagogical and user-centered work. First, basic pedagogical assumptions and considerations for a digital networked infrastructure for education are outlined. In addition, user requirements are presented, derived from qualitative interviews with people interested in studying. Further, these requirements are condensed into a rough structure of such a networked infrastructure. Certain components are referenced and explained in a usage scenario. The results are summarized, compared to the identified points of criticism, and further fields of discussion are named.

  2. Pedagogical Conversational Agents in Virtual Worlds - A Systematic Literature Review

    Pedagogical conversational agents (PCAs) in virtual worlds are increasingly used in the field of education. This is evidenced by the trend of increased publications in this area. This systematic literature review examines research contributions that study the implementation of PCAs in virtual worlds to promote learning in higher and further education. We exploratively identify the following design categories: Embodiment and character, the PCA's adaptation to learners’ feelings and their role as mentors, the application of gamification, communication technologies, privacy, and the existence of design knowledge. We reduced the 668 articles found to 45 coded articles. From the results of our research foci, we derived future research streams. The results show research gaps in privacy, the existence of design principles, and more advanced communication technologies. Finally, we conclude that the potential of using PCAs in virtual worlds has not yet been exploited and should be investigated more structured and more deeply.


  1. Future Skills Journey - Making Digital Learning Offers Available in the digital networked infrastructure for education

    In cooperation with NEOCOSMO, Stifterverband is developing a new digital learning hub: the Future Skills Journey. The aim of the Future Skills Journey is to make digital learning formats for future skills easily available free of charge and, at the same time, to create a vital learning ecosystem in the interest of a cross-sectional Future Skills Community for inspiring exchanges. In technical terms, the Future Skills Journey builds upon Stifterverband’s existing KI Campus, a learning platform for AI content, and is linked to the Federal Ministry for Education and Research’s (BMBF) planned digital networked infrastructure for education. To design the content, Stifterverband curates outstanding, existing education content and puts it together into target group-oriented learning journeys. These thematically focussed learning paths are characterised by the versatile use of different digital learning formats. This includes online courses, explainer videos, podcasts, educational quizzes and microcontent, such as infographics. The digital learning content is not just to be found in the learning journeys but are also made available in a copyright-free media archive. In this way, the Future Skills Journey also supports teaching staff in enriching their own learning and teaching with online learning on future skills and disconnecting learning experiences from time and location. Future Skills Journey wants to enable its users, both via learning journeys and the media archive, to become familiar with future skills quickly and easily.

  2. TrainSpot2 - Challenges and opportunities for the development of a network infrastructure for adult and continuing education

    The aim of the joint project 'TrainSpot2' is to design a train-the-trainer hotspot for assessing, developing, and certifying competencies, which will be connected to the digital network infrastructure for education. With the hotspot, an infrastructure is being created to enable teachers in adult and continuing education to use linked competency development offers in a demand-oriented and targeted manner. Based on a consideration of the initial situation, the article examines the project-related questions regarding unified reference models and standards as well as the role of learners and their AI-based learning support in terms of opportunities and limitations. Based on this, possible approaches to the design of an interoperable and adaptive infrastructure are presented.

  3. Introducing Interactive Grammar: How to Develop Language Competence with Research-based Learning

    We present the implementation of an interactive e-learning platform for both classroom study and self-study, that helps developing German language competence – vocabulary, spelling, and grammar – on various levels and for everyday life applications. The LernGrammis portal addresses school and highschool students, (prospective) teachers, and L2 learners of German equally, each with appropriate educational content and interactive components. It thus offers the digital networking infrastructure for education a unique, freely available and scientifically based learning resource. Applying the innovative concept of „Research-based Learning (RBL)“, LernGrammis provides teachers with ideas for lesson planning, and learners with dedicated modules to develop new skills through exploring authentic language resources and by this means answering customised low-threshold research questions. Using proven practical examples, we demonstrate the approach, its strengths and possibilities, as well as initial user feedback evaluation results.


  1. Enhancing Collaboration and Digital Teaching Competencies in Higher Education: The KoKoN Project

    The need for a rapid shift from classical face-to-face learning to digital and virtual learning formats during the Corona pandemic posed challenges even for experienced higher education teachers. When teachers are looking for suitable methods for their teaching scenarios and the associated teaching cooperation, they primarily use discussions with colleagues or the obvious (Google) search on the Internet. KoKoN aims to provide easy and secure access to high-quality and didactically prepared teaching and learning methods via the (digital) networked infrastructure for education (DVIB) with focus on cooperative use and further development of didactic methods with reflection of experience-relevant best-practice information for all users. The paper describes the key components of this project by means of a usage scenario.

  2. Fostering Academic Peer Exchange in Distance Learning

    Virtual worlds (VWs) have been present in higher education for more than a decade but have regained substantial traction in recent years as a result of COVID-19 and the metaverse hype. Nonetheless, facilitating peer exchange and social interaction in VWs in higher education has not been sufficiently researched nor is specific design knowledge available. Therefore, we derive design principles systematically by collecting design requirements based on scientific contributions on VWs, encompassing the instructor viewpoint, before turning them into meta-requirements that we then merge to design principles. We translate these into tangible design features instantiated in a genuine VW teaching unit with master students. The evaluation in focus group interviews after the application of our design knowledge demonstrates the theoretical and practical value of our contribution to strengthening social interaction in distance learning settings from teachers’ and learners’ perspectives.

  3. Design Principals for Building a Collaborative Exchange Platform for Auto-gradable Programming Exercises

    The emergence of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has made computer science more accessible by offering courses on various programming languages and technologies to anyone with an internet connection. These MOOCs have demonstrated that providing learners with the necessary tools for self-regulated learning and formative feedback remains crucial to ensuring successful learning outcomes. Similar to MOOC learners, university and high-school students also benefit from interactive exercises and automated feedback. However, university lecturers and especially high-school teachers often lack access to suitable programming tasks and the necessary tools. Therefore, we started working on CodeHarbor, an innovative tool designed explicitly for teachers to share, rate, and discuss auto-gradable programming exercises with their colleagues. In this article, we describe the use of interviews and thematic analyses to examine the problem space and opportunity areas experienced by computer science educators who engage in exchanging digital teaching materials for their classes. As a result, we defined twelve user stories and three design principles that should be considered when developing a platform for exchanging computer science teaching materials. With collaborative authoring tools designed primarily for computer science teachers, we envision CodeHarbor to become an important tool to make computer science education more interactive and enjoyable.

  4. Social VR as an approach to foster collaboration among scientists and educators within the networked infrastructure for education

    With the current development of a central digital infrastructure to connect education, the Federal Republic of Germany aims to unite the multitude of existing educational platforms and offerings in order to enable broad, easy-to-use, personalized, and self-governing access to lifelong education and to facilitate collaboration among all stakeholders. Regarding the latter, a key challenge is to identify suitable technologies, and to evaluate, technically connect, and didactically use them thoroughly. In the present case study, we examined social virtual reality (VR) as a technology for scientific collaboration by carrying out a virtual scientific conference to assess perceived task-technology fit and technology acceptance. Participants (N = 31) reported a medium to high perceived fit, ease of use, and usefulness for social VR, resulting in a high behavioral intention for future use of the technology. In line with previous approaches to integrate task-technology fit and technology acceptance theory, the applied technology's fit predicted perceived ease of use and usefulness to result in a higher intention to use social VR. Overall, social VR appears suitable and sufficient for collaboration in the framework of scientific gatherings and is, therefore, to be considered a component of the digital infrastructure called “(digital) networked infrastructure for education”. However, in line with previous research, the results point to the need for further development of social VR with regard to both technology and design to further enhance its suitability and convenience.


  1. Anschluss der vhs.ID an die digitale Vernetzungsinfrastruktur für die Bildung

    The German Adult Education Association (DVV) promotes the educational work of adult education centers in Germany. The DVV took an important step towards digital teaching in 2018 and developed the as an adult education center’s internal digital learning and teaching platform. The associated identity management system called vhs.ID enables teachers and learners to access the and further digital offerings by the adult education centers with a single account. In the EVA-NBP project, this digital ecosystem is to be expanded to include search and recommendation functionalities for courses offered by adult education centers. Since the adult education centers use various administration programs and different approaches, there is an inconsistent set of course metadata. The biggest challenge now is therefore, to develop a universal standard for metadata management that can be used for a recommendation algorithm and a course search. Keywording the courses according to a category standard represents a promising perspective that is to be tested together with selected adult education centers. In this article, the project staff of the DVV report on the current developments.

  2. The Project TOERN - Unlocking the Potential of Open Educational Resources on the German “(digital) networked infrastructure for education”

    The (digital) networked infrastructure for education aims to bundle digital education offerings and expand them with additional functionalities and services to create a nationwide teaching-learning infrastructure, in order to enable users to access lifelong education in a personalized and self-organized way. Due to this, the infrastructure holds great potential for the establishment and dissemination of Open Educational Resources (OER) for all of Germany's educational sectors. The main objective of the project TOERN is to connect the OER repository for higher education and the central OER search index OERSI to the (digital) networked infrastructure for education. For this purpose, these OER infrastructures will be further developed in a user-centered way and made internationally connectable. In addition, the project focuses on the development of a digital modular learning program on technical aspects of OER creation, which will be connected to the (digital) networked infrastructure for education via a badge system. This article summarizes the main objectives of the project, the interim results and the work currently in progress.

  3. Towards a Standardized Machine-Readable Metadata Format for MOOC Platforms - Categorizing Fields of Study

    Nowadays, there are many online courses like MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available from different providers (e.g. edX, Coursera, openHPI, OpenWHO, iMOOX). To support learners, aggregators like Class Central or MOOChub were established. These aggregators hold catalogs with the offerings of the providers making them a central entry point for the users. Such catalogs are based on metadata, which needs to be formatted in a proper way. This metadata can then be used for filtering courses and recommendation engines also. With more and more emerging AI-based recommendation services for learning opportunities and learning path assistants, the need for well-maintained and meaningful metadata is growing massively. In this paper, we report on our research about different systems for categorizing the fields of study, topic, or subject, which can be used to enhance existing metadata formats. An overview of field of study categorization systems of different entities (e.g. international, national, and private organizations) is given. The systems are compared regarding their usefulness in metadata formats for the description of courses. The results are utilized to refine our own metadata format and represent a further step towards a standardized metadata format for courses and automatically generated metadata.


  1. Der Digitale Campus - die Plattform zur Orientierung und Vorbereitung internationaler Studieninteressierter und Studierender

    With the Digital Campus, a platform is currently being developed that links various offerings from German universities and other educational institutions. It is planned to establish the Digital Campus as a central point of contact for international prospective and current students in Germany. Along the entire student journey, quasi as a "One-Stop-Shop", this new networking platform provides offers and services from different partners in the areas of information, orientation, guidance as well as for the linguistic, subject-specific and interdisciplinary preparation of the ISS. The goal is to make the entry process for international prospective and current students at a German university more efficient and to increase the probability of successful completion of studies. Overall, the Digital Campus aims to improve the internationality and attractiveness of Germany as a place to study.

  2. Die Plattform für inter*nationale Studierendenmobilität (PIM) - Bildungsreisen von Studierenden nachhaltig vereinfachen

    The Platform for Inter*national Student Mobility (PIM) is emerging as a cross-university software solution for performance recognition and credit transfer in national and international student mobility, addressing the previous lack of a digital end-to-end solution. As part of the “(digital) networked infrastructure for education”, PIM is currently being further developed and rolled out to universities, transitioning from a project stage to productive use. PIM aims to significantly simplify the inter*national educational journey of students while ensuring the necessary process control by the universities. The article illustrates how PIM intends to create added value for the stakeholders involved through core functionalities such as "configurable workflow for recognition and credit transfer" and a "recognition and credit database." Furthermore, initial insights from the software development process are discussed, which can be relevant for the transferability to comparable digitalization activities.


  1. Wirkungsorientiertes Monitoring (WoM) in Digitalisierungsprojekten: Das BIRD-Beispiel

    The R&D; digitalization project "Digital Educational Space” (in German: “Bildungsraum Digital” – BIRD) aims to contribute to the digital transformation in meeting the structural change in the education system. It plays a crucial role in the funding line for a Digital Networking Infrastructure for Education as a validation point for the connectivity of the other funded projects. Therefore, special attention is paid to quality assurance. That’s why Results-oriented Monitoring (RoM) was introduced as a tool to align the planning and implementation of the three-dimensional bundle of measures in the project with the overall objectives of the funding scheme and to ensure the achievement of the medium- and long-term impacts. This paper presents the concept and advantages of this approach for increasing effectiveness, promoting understanding, and raising visibility, as well as the followed procedure and related requirements.

  2. Wie Innovation im Bildungssystem gelingen kann - Schule als Organisation begreifen und gestalten

    Digitization, accelerated by the funding initiative for a digital networking infrastructure for education, is just one of the many challenges currently facing the school system and which it can only successfully meet through renewal, i.e., through appropriate innovations. This article is a plea for adopting an organizational sociological perspective in order to systematically and sustainably increase the capacity for innovation in the education system (here with a special focus on schools). The starting point of our reflections is that learning takes place in the direct interaction between learners and teachers and between learners. Therefore, the school setting - especially from a political perspective - must be designed in such a way that the best possible interaction can take place in the respective school organization. To this end, this position paper provides an analysis and derives recommendations for future educational policy action.

Final Word

Thank you for taking the time to read this special issue. As you can see from the articles, there are many fascinating perspectives on the emergence of the digital networked infrastructure for education. As the infrastructure's development progresses further and not all of the numerous relevant influences could be heard in this special issue, we hope to publish another special issue in the years to come -- an updated status quo on the networked infrastructure, so to speak.

Opening Message

Welcome to our special issue on the perspectives of science and practice on the current networked infrastructure for education in Germany. In the fall of 2023, the Go-live of the "Closed Beta" will provide a first look at the (digital) networked infrastructure for education. This special issue simultaneously opens up insight into the underlying concepts and contributions from the perspective of selected projects in the funding line. Empirical foundations are illuminated, the competencies of learners and opportunities for collaboration are examined, and key aspects such as networking and internationalization are addressed. Quality development is also not to be missed in articles on this exciting large-scale project. We hope you will enjoy reading the articles.

Ulrike Lucke, Arno Wilhelm-Weidner, Alexander Knoth
Guest Editors, eleed