Digital Transformation in Swiss Vocational Schools. Facilitating and Hindering Factors in the Digitization Process of Vocational Schools

The increasing spread of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and continuous technological developments have led to a digital transformation of our society that is affecting not only the global economy and people's daily lives, but also the school education system.

Adobe Stock / NIKCOA

As result of the introduction and adoption of technological tools and digital resources by teachers and students, increasingly widespread and necessary due to the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on school activity, the learning and teaching methods are facing significant changes. It is therefore necessary to support these changes and the digital transformation in the educational system in response to the new teachers' and students' needs.

Several factors play an important role in the digital transformation process in upper secondary schools. Among the contextual factors, the availability and adequacy of digital infrastructures (e.g., computers, interactive whiteboards, LMS and cloud platforms) are necessary requirements, but not sufficient. School principals also play an important role in this process as they are responsible for managing the digital transformation within the school. But this latter factor is also not enough. Above all we need skilled teachers who know how to use digital tools in an appropriate and effective manner to make them a real means of training. Moreover, it is important that teachers have developed adequate beliefs about the importance and effectiveness of the technology’s introduction in teaching and learning.

The first objective of the PhD project is to investigate the interaction between contextual and systemic factors that influence the digital transformation process in upper secondary schools in Switzerland, focusing on vocational schools. Moreover, since the quality of technology integration depends on how technology is used in the teaching-learning process and not only on the frequency of digital tools and resources use, a second objective will be to investigate the different types of teaching activities proposed by teachers in vocational schools. With reference to the theoretical model Interactive, Constructive, Active, and Passive (Chi, 2014), which defines the activities based on the students’ cognitive engagement, we will try to clarify how to evaluate the quality of technology integration in teaching. A third objective of the project is to identify the skills required to teachers by digital transformation.

The main research questions that guide the development of the doctoral thesis can be summarized as follows:

  1. What are the contextual and systemic factors that influence and explain the digital transformation process of vocational schools in Switzerland?
  2. How are technologies integrated into teaching activities and how can their quality be evaluated?
  3. What are the necessary skills for the effective technology integration in teaching and how can vocational teachers be supported in their development?

Supervisors of the doctoral thesis:


The project's focus is on vocational teachers in Switzerland.

The first phase of the project consists of quantitative data collection through questionnaires. The data that will be collected include the availability and access to digital tools, school management support for digital development, school leadership, technological knowledge and skills, beliefs on the effectiveness of the use of digital tools for teaching and learning, opinions on the digital transformation’s changes and the effective use of technologies. In the second phase interviews and focus groups will be conducted with the purpose of identifying the key factors that support and foster digital transformation in vocational schools.