Competent in the digital world

The digital world is changing how we live and learn. Only people who can use digital media safely and with confidence will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that our modern knowledge society has to offer, from online research and making reservations online to mobile communications. But it is often difficult to keep up-to-date. That is why Deutsche Telekom supports media skills in the context of numerous projects for children and young people as well as seniors and people with disabilities. We particularly focus on activities involving online security, because crime is taking on other forms in the digital age.

A recent study (only available in German language) conducted by the Deutsche Telekom Stiftung foundation shows how important it is to integrate mandatory, comprehensive media education throughout the educational chain. According to the study, the educational success of individuals in areas involving digital media skills is particularly related to that person's background in Germany. Deutsche Telekom intends to promote equal opportunities with its involvement.

In 2014, Deutsche Telekom assumed responsibility for the Teachtoday online platform, which was launched as part of an EU initiative. The platform was redone in November 2014 with topics and didactic elements being revised and expanded. The new website addresses a larger target group. On the platform, teachers, school administrators and school social workers as well as parents and students will find practical, everyday tips and materials on how to use new information and communications media securely and responsibly.

Within the scope of the Teachtoday platform, we conducted the “Medien, aber sicher” competition in 2014 where public schools and institutions that work with children and young people submit projects for using media safely.  In the winning project, "Now – online," submitted by Uhland elementary school in Wurmlingen (Baden-Württemberg), fourth graders addressed their personal experiences with the Internet. They talked to experts and compared the results with those found in scientifc studies to come up with the criteria for creating a good website.

Five winning projects – in which about 200 children and young people were involved – were then invited to attend the first Cyber Security Summit for Kids on November 4, 2014, at Deutsche Telekom Headquarters in Bonn. Together with Deutsche Telekom Board members, the winners could try out a new jump and run obstacle course at the summit that takes a fun approach to teaching media skills and digital knowledge. Schools and youth work facilities have been able to book the obstacle course free-of-charge since February 2015. The course will be visiting schools and educational facilities throughout Germany for a whole year. Hausburg elementary school in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain was the first on the list, opening the tour on Safer Internet Day in February 2015.

Several times a year, Deutsche Telekom employees organize trainings on a variety of topics including how to use cell phones and the Internet for residents of Lebenshilfe facilities within the context of Deutsche Telekom's Social Days. Deutsche Telekom had the course materials translated into simple language. A volunteer trainer conducted a live test of the materials with a test audience on Volunteer Day 2013; the revised format has been available since mid-September 2014. The course materials were again successfully used at a workshop for Lebenshilfe residents in Bonn during Community Volunteering Week in September 2014. Deutsche Telekom employees gave the 20 guests tips and support in using state-of-the-art communications media, answering their questions using simple language.

Recent studies show that children and seniors often go online without paying attention to security. The annual security report conducted by the Allensbach Institute and commissioned by Deutsche Telekom in 2014 found that almost half of all parents don't really keep track of their children's activity online. 40 percent of those parents also feel that their children are not effectively aware of the risks associated with their activities and feel that teachers in particular are under the obligation to help.

Deutsche Telekom promotes online security at different levels with a variety of activities and collaboration projects.

  • Online guide: "Security in the digital world."

Entertaining and practical – in September 2014 Deutsche Telekom presented the multimedia online tool, "Security in the digital world" at the international IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin. The tool illustrates situations involving use of media by fictional user types including young people, grown-ups or parents and freelancers and discusses the challenges involved.

  • Data security guide as an app

The third revised edition of Deutsche Telekom's free online guide on data security was released in 2014. In addition to the popular printed version, the guide is now available as a download in the Telekom Shop app and as a multimedia iBook.

  • International expansion of helplines for children

The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) and Deutsche Telekom joined forces with the Child Helpline International (CHI) child protection organization in 2014. The goal of the collaboration is to provide better online protection for young people and help them exercise their right to be heard. In a joint agreement, GSMA and CHI laid the foundation stone for the funding of children's helplines all over the world.

  • "Me and the cyber world" internal competition

In order to raise employee awareness regarding their children's online safety, we held a creative competition entitled "Me and the cyber world" in October 2014 via our internal social network (TSN). Children were asked to illustrate how they saw the IT world on a poster – colorful and exciting, complex or simple.  The posters were then compiled in a slideshow and posted on the TSN where our employees could vote for their favorite.

With the Connected Kids project, we raise awareness among students, parents and teachers regarding the numerous ways mobile Internet can be used for learning and advance the use of digital media at schools. T-Mobile Austria collaborated with Apple between November 2013 and March 2014 and has been doing so again since November 2014 to equip classes at Austrian schools with tablets and mobile online hotspots for 2 weeks each. Young teachers are available for the students during this time as tutors to help the students get familiar with online learning options. Long-term project goals include inspiring students to pass on what they learn to people outside of traditional educational institutions.

Free programing workshops were held under the patronage of CoderDojo North Bucharest and Telekom Romania in September 2014 for the third year in a row. A total of 50 children participated in three workshops conducted simultaneously by Telekom Romania in Bucharest. That is the highest number of participants this event has seen to date. Telekom Romania also provided logistical support and high-speed Internet.

The pinnacle of the event in 2014 was the Arduino workshop on computer-aided electronics teaching, which was offered to children ages 12 and up. The first workshop of its kind at a national level taught children the basics of applied electronics on the basis of the Arduino development platform. Participates got to know the hardware elements as well as the programing language of the Arduino platform.

CoderDojo is an international initiative founded in Ireland in 2011 to teach interested children about programing basics in a relaxed atmosphere outside their normal classroom setting.

The Access to the Digital World initiative was founded in 2012 with the financial support of OTE and COSMOTE. Its aim is to teach people ages 50 and up who are unfamiliar with the digital world the basics of computer technology, giving them the chance to further their education and engage in lifelong learning. People ages 50 and up with no computer experience are taught the basics of digital technology and offered courses on how to use the Internet free of charge. Participants learn how to use the touchscreens in smartphones and tablets and become familiar with social networks like Skype and Facebook in two to four-hour seminars.  

Access to the Digital World seminars were held in the community of Ilioupoli from September 30, 2013 until July 3, 2014. Up to 20 participants at each of the 24 courses learned how to use computers and the Internet. Participants met two hours twice a week for six weeks. A total of 76 hours of seminars were attended by 480 senior citizens; their average age was 64. In 2014, Access to the Digital World expanded to include the Agios Dimitrios community. In addition to providing financial support, OTE and COSMOTE also provided the initiative with the required hardware and technical support.

AjTy (“you too”) Senior, a joint project launched by T-Systems Slovakia and an electrical engineering school in Košice in 2013, offers IT courses for senior citizens. In 2014 the courses focused on how to use computers and the Internet. Among other things, instructors explained to participants the many uses of the Internet, how to set up an e-mail account, how to create documents using MS Word, how to participate in an online chat, etc. There were more participants in 2014 compared to the previous year; participant numbers increased from 16 to 20 and the number of volunteer teachers from T-Systems Slovakia went from 8 to 22. The quality of the courses was also improved, e.g., with new ways of communicating with the participants, and providing course content after its completion.

Within the scope of a work-study training program, which is being conducted in collaboration with the same school for the second year in a row, managers and IT experts from T-Systems Slovakia offer courses to prepare participants to face the challenges of the ICT  sector. The 11 volunteer teachers from the company taught classes of 20 seniors for a total of 198 hours per semester.

The Sheeplive.eu (OVCE.sk) project was initiated in 2009 by the eSlovensko civic action group to give children and young people practical tools and solutions to using cell phones and the Internet safely. The project was designed as a preventative measure for small children (two to six) and to encourage young people to reflect their own behavior on the Internet in a humorous way. Parents can also have fun and enhance their skills using the program. There are two components to the project: the Sheeplive comic strip and the Sheeplive.eu online portal. The project was recognized as one of the most innovative e-content products worldwide with the UN World Summit Award.

Sheeplive campaign at Slovak Telekom shops
Slovak Telekom has been working to keep children and young people safe online and when using mobile communications for some time now. Most of the company's shops participated in a campaign to raise awareness of online security in June 2014. Posters and a TV ad informed parents about offers that can help them keep their children safe from online dangers. Children were given crayons, stickers with characters from Sheeplive.eu and a small coloring book containing a lot of tips. That helped parents and children pass the time spent waiting at the shop while teaching them about effective protection measures to keep kids safe online and when using mobile communications.

Sheeplive.eu on tour
In 2014 Sheeplive.eu visited day care centers, orphanages (200 children during the summer break), Magio beach (with workshops for children at day camps) and a Roma settlement in Kosice, where the authors of the Sheeplive.eu book gave 100 Roma children important safety tips at a reading. According to the results of a study, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more at risk.

The final highlight of the campaign was the book launch of Sheeplive.eu 02 in November 2014. A version of Sheeplive.eu cartoons for children with hearing and sight impairments is also available. The series is becoming increasingly popular and is very successful outside of Slovakia as well.