It may be one of the biggest educational challenges of the present: How can the next generation be prepared for their digital future? At Luxembourg's grammar schools, the answer has been the subject "Digital Sciences" for a year and a half. Three teachers report on lessons, challenges, and opportunities for themselves, students, and the school system as a whole.
"Last lesson we saw how we can make single pixels black and white", Michèle Noblet reminds her 22 students as they open the course files on their tablets. She points to the image of a simple, pixelated black and white smiley face on the smartboard in a classroom of the Lycée Robert-Schuman. "We said that a pixel contains a 'bit', the smallest unit of information. That can be either zero or one. On or off, black or white." She opens another image file, zooms in until individual pixels are visible. "But pictures are usually not only black and white, but colourful. You can't do that with just one bit." Much speculation follows about how the seemingly impossible coloured pixels might work. Less than ten minutes later, the students fill in new grids with different shades of red, then blue, in all possible variations.
This approach to the inner workings of the computers that shape our everyday lives is part of the "Digital Sciences" course that has been offered at the lycées in Luxembourg for the past year and a half. This new course was already on the programme of the 7ème classes of 18 pilot schools last year. This year, after a successful test phase, it is compulsory in all 7ème classes in the country, and the pilot phase for 6ème classes has begun. The goal: to prepare students for the challenges of the digital future. Job hunting, dealing with misinformation, dangers on the net. There are enough challenges for young people. And there was a need to catch up: in 2018, according to the IEA (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement), less than half of Luxembourg's pupils had the necessary competences to make "informed decisions" in dealing with digital media because they lacked the competence to "use digital tools and habits successfully". Has the Luxembourg school system done its homework since then?
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