A closer look at Austria's digital response to COVID-19

Published on: 07/09/2021

This case study on the Austrian digital solution Eduthek has been written following the insights provided by Dr Robert Kristöfl and Mag. Stefan Schmid from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research in Austria.

Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on public services delivery in Austria

As of 16 March 2020, due to the lockdown measures adopted by the Austrian government, schools in Austria were closed for a period ranging from a month and a half for high schools to two months for primary schools. These measures prevented students and teachers from engaging in face-to-face classes as traditionally done. However, the existence of digital educational tools prior to the crisis allowed teachers to ensure the continuity of educational services. Indeed, before the COVID-19 crisis, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research was already offering a wide range of digital solutions for students, teachers and parents at all levels of education, such as:

  • Eduvidual, a Moodle-based eLearning platform enabling Austrian teachers to create interactive educational content;
  • Learning with a System (LMS), a learning and content-creation platform enabling Austrian teachers to create content and make visual exercises with the students;
  • Virtuelle-ph, an eLearning platform for teachers;
  • Digi4School, an online platform offering a wide range of eBooks.

Eduthek inception to gather quality educational content

Although digital solutions such as Eduvidual and LMS were already offered by the Ministry of Education, Science and Research prior to the COVID-19 crisis to assist in the digital delivery of education, an additional digital solution was needed to meet the strong demand of Austrian teachers for quality digital educational material.

The Eduthek platform, a repository of educational content, was a project initiated by the Ministry of Education, Science and Research prior to the crisis and made available in Beta version prior to the enforcement of a lockdown in Austria. Forecasting the closure of schools, the Ministry accelerated its efforts on the development of Eduthek. Benefitting from important hierarchical and political support due to the state of emergency, Eduthek was finalised within seven days and released on 14 March 2020.   

Development of Eduthek within the Austrian administration

In order to swiftly develop and release a useable version of the platform, the project team behind Eduthek had to address two main challenges:

The first challenge was the definition and order of the metadata to be included on the platform, for which the project team received support from several universities such as KU Leuven (Belgium) and WU-Wien (Austria). The second challenge was the technical development and testing of the platform, as well as the collection of quality content to be offered on it. Regarding content collection, the Eduthek team collaborated with external educational platforms willing to share their content on Eduthek and benefitted from the help of a group of about 40 teachers and university professors who contributed to the review and approval process.

The development of the Eduthek solution within a week was made possible thanks to the collaboration of actors from the public and the private sector. The management of the project was overseen by the employees of the Ministry of Education, who were also part of the steering committee. However, the technical development of the solution was carried out by several Austrian companies specialising in digital education, including Knowledge Markets. Once the solution was developed, the eEducation school network, which is specialised in raising awareness on digital topics in Austrian schools, supported the Ministry of Education, Science and Research in disseminating information about Eduthek.

Features and uses of Eduthek

The Eduthek platform aims at providing an easily searchable repository of quality educational content for all school levels. The platform offers a wide range of 6 000 learning materials on all subjects, approved by a pool of teachers and professors to ensure its quality.

Teachers, students, parents, and any other interested user can have a direct access to Eduthek’s online material, without a password or login. Additionally, the content included in Eduthek can be continuously integrated into the LMS and Eduvidual learning platforms.

The demand for the Eduthek content quickly scaled up, with up to 85% of all Austrian schools using the Eduthek content during lockdown. Such high demand was possibly due to the availability of a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), a free and open online course, on digital learning that was developed by the Austrian Ministry of Education. The MOOC, followed by 15% of Austrian teachers, comprises information on good practices when using Eduthek’s content for the teaching of all subjects. After the first lockdown, the user rate of Eduthek went down to 50%.

Key takeaways from Austria on the rapid digital response to COVID-19

The three-week development of the Eduthek solution was the result of the swift set up of a project team within the Ministry of Education, Science and Research. The strong political and hierarchical support, complemented by a clear mission and mandate, allowed the project team to quickly release the final version of the Eduthek platform. The success of Eduthek is a sign of the completion of its primary objective: offering quality and peer-reviewed educational content. In Mag. Stefan Schmid’s opinion, this objective was the driving-force behind the Eduthek project as content requirements need to drive the technical development of the solution.

"The content requirements should drive the technical development of the solution, and not vice versa."


Type of document
General case study