2020 and 2021 have been ruled by digital learning and working. Coronavirus not only forced workers to set up office at home, but also saw many pupils having to continue their school year online. The City of Dortmund has around 78,500 pupils attending 154 schools and each one of them is actively supported by the city’s municipal administration to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic and the digital future. For this reason, Dortmund is in pole position among the municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia in terms of technical equipment. Nevertheless, the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the still considerable need for the expansion and more effective use of digital offerings as many children and young people did not have the technical equipment necessary at home to enable them to participate in digital distance education. With this is mind, the City of Dortmund leveraged the federal and state support programme for equipping schools to build on its already implemented media development plan. The city asked for €6.1 million in funding and topped it up with €700,000 from the “Gute Schule 2020” programme. An additional €3 million was made available through the End Device Funding Policy for Educators in North Rhine-Westphalian Schools As many schools had decided in previous years to use iPads, the City of Dortmund invited bids from across Europe for the purchase of a total of 25,000 iPads. Bechtle was awarded the contract thanks to its excellent value for money and geographic proximity.
Between November 2020 and April 2021, Bechtle supplied us with iPads despite the tricky market situation. Everything went perfectly. Bechtle was always available and employs great people. We were constantly kept in the loop and had a dedicated contact who was always on top of the current market situation. So we always knew what the delivery status was and which schools were next in line to receive their iPads. It was a most enjoyable project.
Christian van Rissenbeck, Deputy Head of Systems Technology, Dortmund Municipal Administration
The biggest challenge was presented by the difficult market conditions as iPads were in limited supply when Bechtle was awarded the contract in November 2020, but instead of making the City of Dortmund wait, Bechtle was able to deliver the first batch of 3,500 devices—ready for use out of the box—by December. Bechtle Dortmund deployed an individual image solution for each school on servers specifically put in place for that purpose, not least because the schools differ in a variety of ways. The WLAN, apps used, default settings and pupil and teacher permissions first had to be identified, set up and installed for each individual institution—a mammoth task which saw the Dortmund system house taking on more staff, but ultimately yielded a custom image to preload devices that met each school’s unique requirements. The next step was—and still is—to ensure the reliable operation of the iPads, which has been guaranteed by Bechtle Dortmund setting up dedicated technical support for the schools and their devices.
By taking into account social factors, it was possible to determine how many pupils at each school could be supported by the project leveraging state and federal funding with the iPads being ordered per school from Bechtle. In this way, by April 2021, all pupils from difficult social backgrounds received a free loan of an iPad delivered directly to their school, preloaded with everything they need.
At the same day, the City of Dortmund set up a platform to facilitate distance learning and Apple and Bechtle held 70 online courses on how to use the iPads in class and how to work with the iServ platform within the framework of the “Dortmund macht Schule” project.
Thanks to emergency funding, it was possible for the City of Dortmund to purchase some 25,000 iPads for pupils who do not have suitable devices for distance learning at home. Despite the difficult market and supply situation, Bechtle was able to successively deliver all schools the iPads they required, which were configured according to their individual needs and ready to go out of the box thanks to the excellent collaboration between Bechtle and the Dortmund system house.