Comprehending digitization and digitalization - Development of a phenomenological access to analog and digital technology


  • Svantje Schumann School of Education, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Muttenz, Switzerland, Professorship Didactics of Science Education Institute of Primary School



digitization, analog and digital technology, phenomenological access, audio technology, decision making


Background: "Digitization" (analog-digital conversion) and “Digitalization” (digital communication and the impact of digital media on contemporary social life) and “Digital transformation” (transformation processes) are frequent keywords nowadays. However, it is noticeable that the terms "digital" and "analog" are often not understood. In a preliminary survey, teachers were asked about their concepts about both terms as well as of the terms “digitization” and “digitalization”. Uncertainty about these terms and the phrase "age of digitalization" seems to be widespread. A fundamental clarification of the terms "digital" and "analog" is an important basis for education and discourse. Understanding these terms and current developments is necessary to make decent sound decisions, e.g. regarding the handling of digital technology. Technical education serves not least the overarching educational goal of developing autonomy. Thus, it is an important goal for teachers to build technical content knowledge. The following is a proposal to make the terms "digital" and "analog" accessible and understandable for technical education teachers using the example of audio technology. Teachers worked out the proposed audio-technical stations and illustrative material within the framework of further training, especially in dialogue with the experts of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. Interviews were analyzed using objective hermeneutics, and it was investigated whether and to what extent the materials and dialogue had supported the teachers in clarifying the terms "analog" and "digital" and improved technical content knowledge.
Within the framework of project-related contributions (PgB, 2017 - 2020), various universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education in Switzerland are implementing cross-university MINT projects to train and further educate teachers. The aim is to encourage children and young people - especially girls and young women – to take a greater interest in MINT topics via the teachers. This requires teachers to have the appropriate content knowledge. This kind of knowledge can be acquired through phenomenological processes. However, there are few proposals for phenomenological access to technology for teacher training.

Purpose: The present study developed training content for technical education teachers in primary schools and aims to make the terms "digital" and "analog" accessible and understandable for them. The proposal was assessed by the teachers regarding the question if it was suitable to acquire knowledge and create understanding.

Sample/Setting: The approach was tested with 21 teachers from primary schools in the context of a teacher training program that was part of a PgB MINT education project of the PH FHNW ( In a preliminary survey, teachers were asked about their concepts about digitization and digitalization. After a one-day teacher training course, which was conducted by lecturers from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (School of Education and University of Technology), open interviews were conducted with the teachers, in which they were asked to assess the training with regards to building up an understanding of the terms "analog" and "digital".

Design and Methods: The preliminary statements and the statements made by the teachers in the final interviews were analyzed using objective hermeneutics It was thus possible to monitor whether and to what extent the training course had supported the teachers in clarifying the terms "analog" and "digital".

Results: The educational training "Audio technology to clarify the terms analog and digital" improved teachers understanding of the terms “analog” and “digital”. This could be a first crucial step to approach broader concepts of digitization, digitalization and digital transformation.

Conclusions: Even though the training course aimed at teachers, it seems to be possible to transfer some of the contents directly into school lessons. It seems worthwhile to develop further examples of phenomenological approaches in combination with Wagenschein’s principles of "genetic", "socratic" and "exemplary" learning to understand analog and digital technology.

Keywords: analog and digital technology; phenomenological access, socratic-genetic-exemplary learning, audio technology

Received: February 2020. Accepted: June 2020.


Adorno, Theodor W. 1971. Erziehung zur Mündigkeit - Vorträge und Gespräche mit Hellmut Becker 1959 bis 1969 [Education to maturity - Lectures and discussions with Hellmut Becker 1959 to 1969]. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Buck, Peter. 2012. Wenn authentisches Verstehen ein Ziel des Sachunterrichts ist - Konstruktivistische Auffassungen vom Lernen sind zwar nützlich, aber nicht hinreichend [If authentic understanding is a goal of subject teaching - Constructivist understandings of learning are useful but not sufficient]. Magazin Sache - Wort- Zahl, volume 128/40, 2012: 48-53.

Deckert-Peaceman, Heike, Dietrich, Cornelie, and Stenger, Ursula. 2010. Einführung in die Kindheitsforschung [Introduction to childhood studies]. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Husserl, Edmund. [1927] 2001. Natur und Geist: Vorlesungen Sommersemester 1927 [Nature and spirit: Lectures Summer Semester 1927]. Editor: Michael Weiler, Husserliana Volume 32. Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Langeveld, Martinus J. 1965. Einführung in die theoretische Pädagogik [Introduction to theoretical pedagogy]. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.

Østergaard, Edvin and Hugo, Aksel. 2008. Vom Phänomen zum Begriff - und zurück. Entwicklung phänomenologischer Unterrichtskompetenzen [From phenomenon to concept - and back. Development of phenomenological teaching skills]. GDCP (Gesellschaft für Didaktik des Sachunterrichts [German Association for the Didactics of Science Education]), ed.: Kompetenzen, Kompetenzmodelle, Kompetenzentwicklung [Competences, competence models, competence development]. Proceedings of the annual conference 2007. Berlin: LIT Verlag: 182-184.

Wagenschein, Martin. 2005. Was bleibt? Verfolgt am Beispiel der Physik [What remains? Followed by the example of physics]., no. 5, October 2005.

Schütz, Alfred. 1974. Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt. Eine Einleitung in die Verstehende Soziologie [The meaningful construction of the social world. An introduction to Understanding Sociology]. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Seiffert, Helmut. 2006. Einführung in die Wissenschaftstheorie [Introduction to the theory of science]. München: Verlag C. H. Beck.