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Stina Boge May 30, 20244 min read

Digital Transformation at Friedrich-Harkort-Schule

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Digital Transformation at Friedrich-Harkort-Schule

Learning, teaching and living with itslearning at Friedrich-Harkort-Schule

Friedrich-Harkort-Schule (FHS) in Herdecke, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, has emerged as a leader in digital education due to the successful implementation of the itslearning learning platform. Through the collective efforts of the school community, creative solutions for navigating the digital landscape have been identified and put into action. Read on to discover more about the platform's integration and utilisation from Christina Philippi and Katharina Rau, teachers and itslearning system administrators at FHS.

Image of the entrance of Friedriech-Harkort-Schule on a sunny day
Photo: Friedrich-Harkort-Schule

School Profile and Adoption 

Friedrich-Harkort-Schule, a grammar school in Herdecke with 820 students, 70 teachers, and over 1600 parents and staff, excels in natural sciences, English bilingual education, and interdisciplinary subjects. Recognised for its quality, the school is a member of the MINT-EC network and participates in Erasmus+.

Before itslearning, the school faced challenges like the lack of a standardised communication platform, limited digital devices, and inadequate digital boards. Additionally, there was no GDPR-compliant filing system. Philippi and Rau aimed to address these issues, streamline organisational processes, personalize lessons, and enhance student support. The decision to adopt itslearning was driven by the need for a modern, effective learning environment.

We were looking for a uniform, legally compliant communication system and a GDPR-compliant filing system. In addition, we wanted to eliminate existing duplicate structures, both digital and analogue, and simplify the processes in the organization and administration of school and teaching.


- Christina Philippi & Katharina Rau , teachers and system administrators,  FHS

Implementation and everyday use

The journey began with a market analysis and a visit to the itslearning stand at Didacta 2015. A test phase from Easter to summer 2015 introduced itslearning to teachers and administration, followed by gradual student integration. Continuous involvement and feedback from the school community were crucial for a successful launch.

itslearning has greatly improved daily school life by shortening communication channels and providing easy access to necessary documents. Lessons are now customisable, offering better student support. The platform has optimised the organisation of extracurricular activities like project weeks and parent-teacher conferences. Additionally, the student council, parents' council, and various student committees use the platform for coordination. Daily use of digital content enhances students' media skills, benefiting their academic and professional futures.

A few of my favorite things

Teachers and students at FHS use itslearning for various educational purposes. The most commonly used functions include lesson planning, where teachers structure lessons and organise content, and the assignment function, which facilitates interactive tasks that students can complete and submit online.

I particularly appreciate the messaging feature for individual, group, and course messages. The planner is great for sustainable lesson planning, and the assignment feature allows students to submit work that can be individually provided with feedback by teachers. The learning path is also a great function for successively unlocking tasks, and the discussion function promotes the exchange of lesson content.


- Christina Philippi & Katharina Rau , teachers and system administrators,  FHS

Collaboration tools, such as online office suites and discussion forums, support teamwork and communication. Teachers assess student learning and performance using the test tool, while learning paths allow for individualised instruction. Additionally, the platform aids in organising substitute lessons, booking rooms and equipment, managing appointments, and facilitating internal school communication..

Steps for successful digital transformation

Throughout the process some important success factors have been identified.

  • Leadership Commitment: Establish a clear vision and secure buy-in from key stakeholders.
  • Needs Assessment: Identify and address existing challenges and requirements.
  • Market Analysis: Research and select the most suitable digital platform.
  • Phased Implementation: Start with a test phase, gradually involving all users.
  • Training and Support: Provide comprehensive training and ongoing support.
  • Community Engagement: Involve the entire school community and seek continuous feedback.
  • Clear Communication: Set clear rules and designate contact persons for smooth communication.
  • Ongoing Evaluation: Regularly assess and adapt the platform to meet evolving needs.

In addition to a well-planned process, Philippi and Rau identifies a mix between flexibility and requirements in the roll-out.

The introduction of itslearning was gradual and well planned. Usage regulations have been drawn up for each of the various user groups in order to create clarity and security. We have created a balance between mandatory requirements for use (communication and file storage) and the freedom to try things out (in class).


-  Christina Philippi & Katharina Rau , teachers and system administrators,  FHS

Overcoming Challenges

Challenges included duplicate file structures and course maintenance issues. These were resolved through consistent processes for maintaining courses and files. Communication improved with clear rules and designated contact persons. Efficiency in administration was achieved by setting up a consultation hour and an itslearning mailbox for teachers to address their concerns.

Vision for the Future

The introduction of itslearning has made a major contribution to the digital transformation at  Friedrich-Harkort-Schule. Through the joint effort of the school community, itslearning has established itself as an indispensable tool. This collaboration and the commitment of all stakeholders is a wonderful example of a successful digital transformation.

The school plans to further expand the use of itslearning, including integrating WebUntis, enhancing library use, and creating digital student files. The continuous development and adaptation of itslearning will continue to drive digital transformation at Friedrich-Harkort-Schule.



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