1. Terminology

2. Technology laws, policies, plans and regulations

2.1. Education technology legislative and policy framework

2.2. Technology infrastructures, technological capacity of schools and learning environments

2.3. Technology competencies of learners and teachers

2.4. Cybersecurity and safety

3. Governance

3.1. Institutions in charge of technology in education and coordination mechanisms

3.2. Roles of schools


1. Terminology

The 1986 School Education Act defines Digital devices as “devices for electronic or message transmission, storage and processing of speech, text, still and moving images as well as data that can be used for data processing and communication, in particular notebooks or tablets.” 

The act also defines ICT-supported teaching (IKT-gestützter Unterricht) as “teaching and educational work using digital devices as working tools as well as digital learning and working platforms, if necessary also using electronic communication.” 

According to the webpage of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the term ‘distance learning’ describes “a special organisational form of studying designed to allow students to learn more or less whenever and wherever they want. […], distance learning enables students to achieve learning objectives primarily by self-study. This is associated with a higher degree of flexibility than other forms of study.” 

On the website for Austria's digital roadmap, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is defined as the “umbrella term for all computer (IT) and network (CT) based technologies and the associated sectors of the economy. 

2. Technology laws, policies, plans and regulations

2.1. Education technology legislative and policy framework

Constitution and laws:  The Austrian Federal Constitutional Law of 1920 establishes Austria as a federal state with nine autonomous federal provinces (Länder): Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tirol, Vorarlberg and Vienna. Responsibility for the education sector is divided between the federal and provincial levels. Article 14 states that the responsibility of enacting legislation and implementation for schooling as well as the fields of education in matters to the students’ hostels is business of the federation. While the federation sets the framework, detailed legislation is issued by the provinces. Technology is not mentioned. 

The 1962 School Organization Act (as amended in 2021) includes “Basic Digital Education” as part of the Compulsory Secondary School Curriculum (grade 5-8) and the Academic Secondary School Curriculum (grade 5-12). Lessons are to be given by specialist teachers. In pre-vocational schools, which follow the 8th grade and comprise one or two grades, students can select between general education, vocational orientation, and basic vocational education in vocational areas. For the advancement of pupils, differentiation measures (two performance levels or interest groups) may be provided in compulsory subjects. At the choice of the students, extended lessons may be provided in the technology cluster, in the services cluster or in another area corresponding to the interests, talents and abilities of the pupils or to the economic structure of the region. The act also briefly mentions distance learning as a form of learning that may be provided for in the curricula for VET schools for people in employment.  

The 1985 Compulsary Education Act and the 1920 Federal Constitutional Law allow in the frame of general compulsory schooling home schooling, provided that the lessons are at least equivalent to the public system and students take an exam in all major school subjects at the end of the school year. Each province also has its own Compulsory Education Act or School Law: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tirol, Vorarlberg and Vienna. The provincial laws follow the federal law, including having information technology as a compulsory subject, starting from grade 9. 

The 1986 School Education Act does have a section regarding “ICT-supported teaching” (IKT-gestützter Unterricht) where ICT-supported teaching and digital devices are defined, as mentioned in chapter 1 on terminology. The act also states that the Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research “may issue ordinances specifying the type and technical requirements for ICT-supported teaching, digital devices and digital learning and working platforms.” 

The purpose of the 2021 School Education Digitization Act is to instruct all students from grade 5 onwards by using ICT-supported teaching. The aim is to create the pedagogical didactic and technical prerequisites. The law equips students with digital devices, including the licenses required for learning and working tools. Teachers are supported by acquisition and/or provision of digital devices, including the licenses necessary for their operation. Furthermore, the law takes over a) organizational tasks in connection with the provision of digital devices to beneficiaries and teachers; and b) the support and maintenance of the digital devices. 

Policies, plans and strategies: The 2007 Future Learning Strategy referred to in the 2010 OECD Austria Country Report for use of ICT in Initial Teacher Training sought to change the traditional education situation by introducing new forms of learning and learning arrangements such as education portals and learning platforms (Moodle, dotLRN, Ilias). It also introduced new platforms into initial teacher training and contributed to the collection and distribution of resources and software (both commercial and open source). The related 2007 e-Content initiative, according to the Virtual Education Initiatives Research, sought to provide Austrian schools with e-learning materials in all subjects. In 2010, as mentioned in the aforementioned OECD Country Report, the government introduced the “Internet Declaration”, where they presented ideas to further improve ICT infrastructure in schools, improve the safe ICT use by the young generation, have open access to e-content, establish e-inclusion and ICT applications for learning, train teachers, establish new educational content and promote the use of ICT in all areas of teaching and learning.  

In the 1963 Curricula Framework for Primary Schools and Special Needs Schools(amended in 2021) modern information and communication technology is seen as a way to open up new perspectives and opportunities for schoolchildren for their personal development, social participation, future work, and the removal of barriers. Teachers should use and select the appropriate technologies based on the requirements of individual students. Technology can be used to provide equitable education, especially for students with disabilities or other needs. 

The Minister of Education, Science, and Research’s 2012 Curricula Framework for Compulsory Secondary Schools (amended in 2022) recognizes that innovative information and communication technologies as well as the mass media are increasingly penetrating all areas of life and have become determining factors for the evolving information society. In response to this, the “digital competence” of students must be improved and the (didactic) potential of information technologies must be harnessed in schools, while at the same time critically and rationally examining their mechanisms of actions. Thus, digital skills are incorporated into the curriculum in all subjects and grade levels, not only in the “Basic Digital Education” mandatory course. The use of digital technologies is also seen as an indispensable prerequisite for contemporary learning. Age-appropriate principles of information management and learning and teaching organization using information technology are expected to be practiced in all subjects, while all results and outcomes should be critically questioned and reflected. The use of ICT is encouraged and students are expected to be introduced to a variety of technologies. 

The Austrian government has been working towards an “eGovernment,” a more digital friendly society. The Digital Roadmap was published in 2016. It stated that digital education should begin as early as possible, and no child should leave school without digital skills. It also sought to guarantee internet as a right for Austrian citizens. The government also had an eGovernment 2020 plan, which has now been replaced with the Digital Austria plan

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research started working on a master plan for digitization in education in 2018. The plan pursues the following objectives: Innovation in methodology and didactics through the use of digital possibilities in the classroom; age-appropriate promotion of digital skills and knowledge as well as critical awareness-raising in all types of schools and school levels; increasing interest in technology and technology development, especially among girls; reliable teaching of digital skills; and promoting the creative potential associated with digitization among schoolchildren and strengthening talent. 

Some provinces also headed their own digitization of education plans. In Tirol, the 2018-2022 "Education 4.0 - Tirol learns digitally" improved the comprehensive infrastructure and increases the amount of IT Equipment available for schools. 

Digital competency frameworks: Digital competency in Austria is measured using the DigComp Competency Framework which is based on the “DigComp” reference framework of the European Commission. Version one was released in 2013, followed by version two in 2016. The most recent version is the “DigComp 2.3 AT” published in 2022. The Framework is comprised of six areas and 27 individual competencies. The areas are foundations and access, information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation, safety, and problem solving and continuing learning. Examples of the 27 individual competencies include: browsing, searching and filtering data, information and digital content; managing a digital identity; copyright and licensing; protecting personal data and privacy; and solving technical problems. Competency is measured using eight levels with level one being foundational and level eight being highly specialized. For digital everyday competence, level three to four in all areas is expected. Relatedly, the digi.comp framework is used to define targets for digital and IT competencies that students and educators should have acquired at certain points in their school or professional career. These skills can be easily checked with the digi.check online questionnaire. 

Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The Digital School Initiative was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goals are to prepare educators for digital teaching, standardize digital learning processes at school, improve digital infrastructure, provide access to digital devices for everyone, expand the educational media available, and build appropriate distance learning apps for students to access at home. The Digital School Manual guides schools on the implementation. The related 2021 School Education Digitization Act continues this mission through the improvement of digital access in schools, specifically by providing free digital devices for students and teachers.  

2.2. Technology infrastructures, technological capacity of schools and learning environments

2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools

Electricity: The 2010 Electricity Act (amended 2013) provides regulations for an equal, fair, consumer friendly, and transparent energy market. Goals of the law include providing high quality electricity at competitive prices, developing more renewable energy sources, and providing a general framework for regulation. Electricity providers are obligated to provide universal service to consumers. Each federal province also has its own Electricity Act. The 2011 Green Electricity Act promotes the development and use of renewable energy. The more recent 2021 Renewable Energy Expansion Act  establishes the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2040 and generate 100% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. Schools are not mentioned in any of the laws which regulate electricity. 

Computers and devices: The 2021 School Education Digitization Act aims to equip 5th grades with digital devices starting from the 2021/22 school year. The initiative also provided devices and licenses for teachers. Schools register for the initiative by means of a letter of intent and signing a declaration confirming its intention to develop into a digital school and to develop four quality areas step by step: “school development and management, infrastructure and technical support, pedagogy, and further education and training”. Legal guardians are expected to contribute to 25% of the financing cost, though they can apply for an exemption. The 2021 School Education Digitization Act provides provinces, as employers of provincial teachers, with three devices per class participating for the first time. 

Digital devices are also provided for secondary school students on a needs basis: The notebooks and tablets were loaned to secondary school students from spring 2020 to support those students who would not have been able to participate in distance learning due to a lack of their own devices. 

Internet connectivity: According to the Virtual Education Initiatives Research, the 2000-2006 eFit Initiative improved the IT infrastructure and successfully connected all schools in Austria to the internet. The Broadband Austria 2030 Strategy aims to provide Austria with symmetrical gigabit-capable access networks nationwide by 2030. The strategy has four parts which focus on different industries, systems, and locations: Broadband OpenNet, Broadband Access, Broadband Connect, and the Broadband GigaApp. The Broadband Austria 2030: Connect strategy has a socio-economic focus and can help school providers expand the digital infrastructure at school locations. 

2.2.2. Technology and learning environments

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research Digital School Initiative is comprised of an 8-point-plan for digital teaching: the Portal Digital School (PoDS) platform, the online app for students, teachers, and parents; Distance Learning MOOC; Orientation of the Eduthek, where learning materials will be developed according to curricula; standardizing communication processes through the Distance learning service portal of the BMBWF, which was made available to schools which haven’t had their own learning or communication platform at the beginning of Distance Learning in spring 2020. In the meantime, the majority of schools have their own infrastructure and the Distance Learning Service Portal provides assistance in finding a suitable learning and communication platform for schools – including quick guides and instructions for use; developing a seal of approval for learning apps; expanding schools basic ICT infrastructure; digital devices for students; and digital devices for teachers. Through this plan, digital learning should be well established in schools by 2024.  

The dedicated platform ‘Distance Learning Service Portal’ has led to a variety of resources and learning platforms. Other resources included learning videos, digital textbooks, digital devices, edutube (media platform to support digital lessons), sports and exercise platforms, #continuelearning platform which connected students to local NGOs, companies, and educational actors. 

In the new curricula for the primary level, ascending from the 2023/24 school year, computer literacy and media literacy are implemented as overarching themes. 

2.3. Technology competencies of learners and teachers

2.3.1. Learners

At the primary level, students are expected to grasp basic skills such as “handling modern communication and information technologies in a way that is appropriate for children”. Computer literacy and media literacy have been implemented as overarching themes in the new curricula, which will become effective in the school year 2023/24. Information and communication technologies should also be used both in the subject-related and in the individual learning time.  

One of the main educational themes in the 2012 Curricula Framework for Compulsory Secondary Schools is focused on “Nature and Technology”. This is because knowledge of mathematics, natural sciences and technology form the basis for orientation in modern society which is shaped by technology. Teaching principles in the Curricula include (digital) media education and education in the use of new technologies. Each course should incorporate the main educational themes and teaching principles. The results and their interpretation are always to be critically questioned and the effects on the individual and society are to be reflected upon. Thus, digital skills and ICT have been incorporated into all subjects. Students are expected to participate in the following activities using ICT: “researching and processing information with a word processor or a presentation programme, creating calculation models, conducting and evaluating surveys and experiments, designing media, documented communication and cooperation (also in a foreign language), and documentation and presentation of project work,” all of which can be incorporated into any subject. For example, in Chemistry, students learn to connect basic chemical knowledge with how it is applied in new technologies.  

As written in the 1962 School Organization Act, “Basic Digital Education” is one of the main subjects in secondary school. According to the 2012 Curricula Framework for Compulsory Secondary Schools the goals of Basic Digital Education are to “promote media competences, application competences, and IT competences in order to enable orientation and responsible action in the 21st century.” The subject includes areas such as media education: dealing with the emergence, development and future of digital media. Reflection and criticism concern, for example, media biographical developments or conditions of media socialization as well as digital inclusion and exclusion dynamics; computer science education is particularly oriented towards didactic  principles, the 4 Cs (critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration) and computational thinking (problem-oriented informatics thinking): including analyzing, interacting, modelling, coding and testing in dealing with computer systems, software, automation, data and networking; and design competence, which is based on an interplay of informatics education and media education: involves analytical, productive and creative approaches to functional media use and aesthetic media formats in globalized digital cultures.  

The competency model is based on five areas: Orientation, analyzing and reflecting on social aspects of media change and digitization; Information, dealing responsibly with data, information and information systems; Communication, communicating and cooperating using IT and media systems; Production, creating and publishing content digitally, designing algorithms and programming as well as decomposing problems, recognizing patterns, generalizing/abstracting and designing algorithms; and Action, assess offers and possibilities for action in a world shaped by digitization and use them responsibly. The areas are further separated into different levels based on the “Frankfurt Triangle”, on the following perspectives: Structures and functions of digital informatic and media systems and tools (T), Social interactions through the use of digital technologies (G), and the interaction in the form of use, action and subjectification (I).  

Students learn a variety of digital skills over four years of instruction. Examples of course content include personal online safety, improving accessibility and usability of technology products for different user needs, create simple programmes or web applications, knowing how cloud-based systems work, reflecting on artificial intelligence, use software to encrypt data, and more.  

Digital competency for students uses the digi.comp competency framework. Digi.comp is split based on school grade level. Digi.comp4 measures the first digital and IT skills acquired by students after elementary school. Students at this level should be able to use digital devices responsibly and safely, use personal informatic systems, use networks to communicate, and understand ICT’s importance and role in the world. Digi.comp8 measures skills up to the 8th grade and is based directly on the 2012 Curricula Framework for Compulsory Secondary Schools. Digi.comp12 is more advanced with computer science skills such as algorithms, data structures, and programming. Students should also know the technical concepts of IT systems, be familiar with operating systems and software, and understand and configure networks. They should have the ability to search, select and organize information as well as be able to communicate effectively online. Students may be tested using digi.check which allows teachers to measure their student’s digital skills. 

2.3.2. Teachers

Digital skills for teachers are measured with the digi.comp framework. The framework has eight areas of competency. The first, A) Digital skills and IT education, consists of the same competency skills used in the digi.comp12 framework. The next category is B) Digital Life, which covers living, teaching and learning in the digital age as well as digital ethics, including accessibility. One example is being able to address the media’s effect on students on a meta-level. Category C is the ability of teachers to create digital materials while considering usage and copyright. Category D is the planning, implementation and evaluation of teaching and learning processes using digital media. Category E involves subject-specific use of digital media, software and digital content. Category F is the ability to promote the digital skills of students. Category G is efficient and responsible digital classroom and school management. It also includes the ability to communicate and collaborate in the school community using technology. Finally, the last category discusses H) Lifelong Learning. Teachers are expected to further advance their digital skills continuously. Teachers can self-evaluate their digital skills using digi.checkP. To improve their skills, teachers can use digi.folio, which enables them to develop and expand their digital skills in a tailor-made way. 

In order to teach the compulsory subject Basic Digital Education in secondary school, employed teachers must complete a four-semester University course for Teachers in Basic Digital Education. Specialist teachers qualified in a school subject other than informatics are required to complete training in ‘Digital basic competence’ to extend their qualification. For the primary level, teachers have the option to take courses to improve their use of ICT in education such as the Primary Media University course. 

Training on digital teaching is available online through a virtual online campus for teachers. The Digital School Initiative: The 8-point plan for digital teaching sought to prepare all educators for digitally supported teaching and learning. Within this context the Distance Learning MOOC was developed. This online course teaches teachers concepts on distance learning and blended learning; different software products and learning platforms; how to find and select digital content; understand and respect copyright; give digital feedback; create digital content; and use these skills for synchronous and asynchronous communication and collaboration. The digi.concept MOOC is a virtual nationwide teacher training course which helps teachers and school management with the development of their "digital" school. Other programmes include the Safer Internet MOOC and the miniMOOCs for German, English and Maths, which guide the use of mobile devices in the specific subject.  

2.4. Cybersecurity and safety

2.4.1. Data privacy

Data privacy is regulated by The 1999 Federal Data Protection Act (amended in 2021) which is in line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Under the Data Protection Act, children under the age of 14 are not able to validly consent to the processing of their personal data. Children may give consent to data processing activities after the age of 14. The main regulator for data is the Austrian data protection authority. Schools are not explicitly mentioned. 

2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is punishable under Section 107c of the Criminal Code. The law states that anyone who uses telecommunications or a computer system in a way that is likely to unreasonably interfere with a person in the conduct of his or her life, is liable to prosecution for cyberbullying. While the law does not specifically mention children, the government does recognize that children in particular are often the target of cyberbullying or harassment on the Internet. Information about cyberbullying can be found on the Online Safety website of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the A-SIT Center for Secure Information Technology and the Safer Internet website, an initiative implemented by the European Union as part of the Digital Europe (DIGITAL) program. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research also provides a handbook for schools and students on the topic of cyberbullying. They have also created guidelines for the prevention and processing of suspected cases of bullying in the workplace. 

The online sexual abuse of a minor and the distribution of sexual abuse content is punishable under Section 207a of the Criminal Code. Reporting mechanisms include Stopline, an online reporting centre for depictions of sexual abuse involving minors. Austria also has an emergency number for children and young people called “Rat auf Draht” which is free to access.  

3. Governance

3.1. Institutions in charge of technology in education and coordination mechanisms

School administration is being exercised by Education Directorates, a joint authority of the federation and the provinces. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) is responsible for the entire education system. There are several directorates with education technology focuses, one is directly responsible for “ICT, Digitization and Media.” The “Teaching Personnel Development” directorate also focuses on “Governance and Digitization of Teacher Training Colleges”. 

3.2. Roles of schools

Schools may determine to incorporate a Bring Your Own Device policy for their own students and teachers. 


This profile has been reviewed with the support of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the Austrian Commission for UNESCO.

Last modified:

Sun, 13/08/2023 - 18:08