Digital Offers for Schools: with Nextcloud, itslearning and Co. through the Corona Crisis – Interview City of Wolfsburg
Being an urban district, our area of responsibility includes 37 schools at 43 different locations. About 1,500 teachers teach a total of 17,000 students at these schools.
Which digital offers are you already using?
We usually have local school server solutions at our schools. We are using iServ at three vocational schools, Logodidact mostly at secondary schools and we still have the MNSPro solution at primary and a few secondary schools. A pilot project was launched four years ago with a council decision. The aim is to test a concept for the implementation of a cross-school solution that is centrally operated and maintained by the school authorities. With the support of the system house Linet Services GmbH that is located in Braunschweig we implemented an identity management system based on UCS@school at six pilot schools with around 5,000 users in 2017. The digital identities of the teachers and students are stored centrally in the identity management system and each user has a uniform user name and password. With these, the users have secure and controlled access via RADIUS to the school WiFi, which is distributed uniformly to all pilot schools. Docked to the IDM of UCS@school we also operate the learning management solution itslearning.
As a local education authority, we provide the IT services and IT infrastructure for almost 20,000 users all told. 18,000 of these are pupils and 1,700 are teaching staff and other employees in our 40 schools.
What digital solutions do you have in your portfolio for the schools right now?
As far as solutions for schools are concerned, Bremerhaven works in close cooperation with the education authority in Bremen and the State Institute for School (LIS). Your UCS and UCS@school solutions have already been in use in the city of Bremen for some time now. When we started thinking about introducing a learning management system in Bremerhaven four years ago, it was only natural to take a look at itslearning – the solution that Bremen had selected the year before. It quickly convinced us, and, like Bremen, we decided on a centralized, interschool concept. That’s why we operate UCS in the BIT computer center and maintain a digital identity with a username and password for each and every user in its directory service. Following the setting up of this directory service, we created a personal work e-mail address for all teaching staff and other employees at the schools. itslearning was also made available for all schools. It was initially employed at all the vocational training schools, for senior classes in the grammar schools, and at some high schools. Since its introduction, we have noticed that use of the solution by both staff and students has increased steadily. In addition, many of the staff in the elementary schools are also using itslearning for organizational purposes. The introduction of the itslearning Sofa Tutor tool, which allows teaching staff to create their own digital learning content, brought with it new impulses.
99 schools, approx.47,000 students, approx. 5,000 teachers
Which digital offers are you already using? How do you deploy them?
The state capital of Hanover (LHH) supports the schools in their administrative tasks, such as the maintenance and software equipment of the school secretariats’ computers.
There has never been a comprehensive central IT offering for the classes. By this, a large number of individual solutions have emerged in schools in recent years. The hardware procurement was carried out by the LHH and for the support the schools received an IT budget.
Interview with Dominik Fahrin, Special Service “Central Services and Data Processing”, City of Beckum
In the city of Beckum we have a total of nine schools, six primary schools and three secondary schools. In addition, together with our neighboring town Ennigerloh, we also manage an intermunicipal comprehensive school. That means: around 4,500 pupils and around 650 teachers, although currently, we only manage the teachers with UCS@school.
The UCS@school team released the 4th version of the UCS@school app a few weeks ago. It is technically based on UCS 4.4 and brings some new functions as well as various adjustments and improvements.
In this article, I would like to give you a short overview about the most important new features for administrators and users, especially in the exam mode, computer room and laptop class control, single sign-on and printer control. Very interesting is the new ID-Connector, which enables data transfer between federal state directories, school district directories and school directories.
The free and open source file hosting solution Nextcloud is available in the Univention App Center either preconfigured or as a virtual appliance and is therefore quickly installed and set up on UCS. Nextcloud can also offer it‘s services on a central server in large, distributed environments and is therefore ideal for integrating network shares from other computers.
The district of Harz as a school authority recognized early, that a school has different needs than the public administration. Therefore the school IT is separated from the IT structure of the administrative district. Our structures enable us to remain flexible and to respond to the individual needs of the schools. A special school needs other applications and end devices than a grammar school. Nevertheless, both systems must be manageable and functional.
In this blog article, I would like to describe the challenges we encountered as a district with a large surface area and a multitude of small, spread-out boroughs when it came to allowing the use of mobile devices in our schools and keeping the efforts associated with the introduction and support to a minimum at the same time.