Digital Education in the US and Germany: Promises and Challenges

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Is digital technology in the classroom here to stay after the pandemic? Can digital technologies help to improve both learning and teaching? Or will digital devices induce “digital dementia” in our children if used too much. How much screen time is enough? Which platforms can we use to strengthen the best practice exchange between teachers and educational institutions? How can digital technologies reduce educational barriers and close the digital divide? And, what role can governments play, especially in de-centralized education systems like Germany and the U.S.?

Join us for a discussion with leading experts from Germany and the US to talk about how educational technology should best be incorporated in the classroom. We want to address what we know today about how technology is already influencing learning, but also explore what we still don’t know.

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Emily Margarethe Haber has been German Ambassador to the United States since June 2018. Prior to her transfer to Washington, DC, she served in various leadership functions at the Foreign Office in Berlin. In 2009, she was appointed Political Director and, in 2011, State Secretary, the first woman to hold either post. Thereafter, she was deployed to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, serving as State Secretary in charge of homeland security and migration policy from 2014 until 2018. Emily Haber has many years of experience with Russia and the former Soviet Union. She held various posts at the German Embassy in Moscow, including Head of the Political Department. At the Foreign Office in Berlin, she served as Head of the OSCE Division and as Deputy Director-General for the Western Balkans, among other positions. Emily Haber holds a PhD in history and is married to former diplomat Hansjörg Haber. The couple has two sons.
German Ambassador to the United States


Kathrin Roeschel is the new Head of the German International School of Silicon Valley since March. After less than two weeks on the job, she led the school’s transition to distance learning formats due to the pandemic. Kathrin is a dedicated educator with a long record of teaching and leadership experience in international schools that include the German-American John F. Kennedy School and the Gail S. Halvorsen School in Berlin, as well as German International Schools in Washington, DC and now Silicon Valley. She holds an MS in Math and Physics from Humboldt-University in Berlin, spent a research semester at City College of New York, published in math didactics and is author of several Math Books for Middle and High School. Always curious about how to learn and teach using technology, already her thesis in the late 80’s was about using calculators in schools. Kathrin’s biggest concern currently is that we might miss the chance this forced distance learning offers to not only improve our use of technology, but to really rethink our teaching and reinvent our school’s organization.
Head of the German International School of Silicon Valley


Andreas Breiter leads the “Information Management and Media Technology” lab at the University of Bremen, Germany. His research integrates computer science and the social sciences, assuming that digital transformation can only be investigated with a sound understanding of the respective application context. Andreas main research interests are media literacy, media integration, e-learning, IT governance, IT service management, information systems for data-based school development, organizational development and knowledge management systems. Since July 2008 Andreas is professor for Applied Computer Science in Bremen. He is also head of the Institute for Information Management Bremen GmbH, a nonprofit research and advisory institute at the University of Bremen. Before that he held a Junior Professorship and spent four years as a research assistant working for the Telecommunications Research Group at the University of Bremen. He spent 2002 as a Visiting Scholar at the Columbia University in New York at the Center for Children and Technology. Andreas holds a degree in sociology, computer science and law from JW Goethe University in Frankfurt / Main and the University of Southampton, he was a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovations Research in Karlsruhe and received his PhD in Applied Computer Science with a study on "IT Management in the Academy" form the University of Bremen.
Leader of the “Information Management and Media Technology” lab at the University of Bremen, Germany
Barbara Holzapfel is a passionate executive with 20 years’ experience driving growth through innovation across startups and multi-billion dollar businesses. Barbara joined Microsoft as VP Education, responsible for strategy, marketing, and growth of the entire Microsoft portfolio for the strategic Education segment across K12 and Higher Education. Before, Barbara served as Chief Marketing Officer of B2B fintech companies Taulia and Addepar, doubling their businesses. Barbara was Senior Vice President and Managing Director of SAP Labs North America, where she drove innovation strategies, directed key innovations in Mobile, Cloud, and Big Data, and incubated various new businesses as well as the startup ecosystem. She held senior leadership positions at SAP since 2001, including SVP Portfolio Marketing, COO Solution Marketing, and VP Supplier Relationship Management Strategy. She started European marketing for global professional services provider Towers Perrin and worked as a management consultant in London serving clients in High Tech, CPG and Financial Services, after spending several years with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta and Deutsche Bank in Germany. Barbara serves on the Board of Trustees of the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and is a past Board Director of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the SVForum and the German American Business Association. Barbara has been recognized by German Business Magazine Capital among the “Top 40 under 40”. She holds an MBA from the University of Michigan Business School and The University of Saarbruecken, Germany.
VP Microsoft Education
Maureen McLaughlin is a senior advisor to the secretary of education and director of international affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. In this position, she has led and coordinated the Department’s international activities and engagement since August 2010. She also spearheaded the development of its first international strategy, which is designed to simultaneously strengthen U.S. education and advance U.S. international priorities. The key objectives of the strategy are to increase the global competencies of U.S. students, learn from and with other countries to improve U.S. teaching and learning, and engage in active education diplomacy. In 2002-2010, Maureen worked at the World Bank as Lead Education Specialist and Education Sector Manager on education issues in the Europe and Central Asia region.  Prior to joining the World Bank, Maureen was an Ian Axford Public Fellow in New Zealand. Between 1988 and 2002, Maureen held several senior positions at the U.S. Department of Education including Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the beginning of two new administrations (1993 and 2001) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning and Innovation after 1993. Maureen joined the U.S. Senior Executive Service in 1990 and was awarded the highest awards for government service, the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award (1998) and Meritorious Presidential Rank Award (1996). From 1979-1988, Maureen was an analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. Maureen holds a Master of Public Policy from University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College, majoring in Economics and graduating Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa.
Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Director of International Affairs U.S. Department of Education
Christoph Meinel holds the chair of Internet Technologies and Systems and teaches courses on IT Systems Engineering on the MOOC platform openHPI and at the HPI School of Design Thinking. His research currently focuses on security engineering, knowledge engineering, and Web 3.0–Semantic, Social, Service Web. He is also scientifically active in Design Thinking research. Christoph Meinel is author or co-author of more than 25 books, anthologies, as well as numerous conference proceedings. He has had more than 550 (peer-reviewed) papers published in scientific journals and at international conferences and holds a number of international patents. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), director of the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program, honorary professor at the TU Beijing and at the Dalian University of Technology, visiting professor at Shanghai University, concurrent professor at the University of Nanjing, and member of numerous scientific committees and supervisory boards.
CEO and Scientific Director of the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering (HPI) and Dean of the Digital-Engineering Faculty at the University of Potsdam.

Event Information

October 21, 2020, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Organizer(s): German Embassy Washington, German Consulate General San Francisco, German Center for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New York