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Project title:

Digital Transformation in Germany and Estonia – a collaborative learning experience between Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Konstanz

Time of implementation:

 09.04. – 15.06.2018

Involved countries and institutions:

1. Estonia – Tallinn University of Technology, Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance


2. Germany – University of Konstanz, Department of Politics and Public Administration

Aim(s) of the project:

This innovative teaching project is important in many ways.

With the "Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment" the EU and EFTA countries commit to accelerating the digital transformation of governments. The goal is to design public services along the following principles: digital-by-default, inclusiveness and accessibility; once only; trustworthiness and security; openness and transparency; and interoperability by default. Few countries have implemented these principles so far, except for Estonia that has already transformed 99% of its administrative acts from analog into digital. In contrast, despite large amounts of investment into digital government, digitization of German public administrations is declining, acceptance and use by German citizen is regressing.

In this seminar, we bring together two perspectives: First, the German public administration viewpoint of digitization  in large hierarchical bureaucracies with legacy systems, that focus mostly on legal barriers, such as data protection, data security, boundaries due to federalism, decentralized budgets and decision making as a result of the department principle (“Ressortprinzip”), citizens’ lack of trust in the usability and reliability of government services, and declining digital competencies among citizens.

We will contrast the German approach, that is replicated in many “old” bureaucracies, with Estonia’s open system bureaucracy with non-professionalized career paths in public administration, a start-up attitude toward digitization and digitalization as a „Country-as-a-Service“ concept, and a very distinct education of citizens at all ages to acquire digital competencies.


Students will know the foundational theories of digital governance and will be able to apply them to a problem-oriented research question. In addition, will be able to identify barriers and drivers for digitization of administrative acts based on the newest theoretical findings and will combine this knowledge with their own data collection efforts. All this will take place in digital, international and interdisciplinary environment meaning the students will learn how to collaborate online across distributed workspaces and academic cultures. Last but not least, this innovative teaching project will teach students how to communicate their results in online writing formats and present them in a visually appealing way.


The professors and lecturers will gain experience in digital literacy, especially in the field of digital forms of cooperation and in the future, in terms of the sustainability of the measures, transfer these to other thematic seminars. The learned forms of cooperation and networking can also be made available on a conceptual level to other departments within the universities.

Target group:

Direct: MA and PhD students from Tallinn University of Technology and University of Konstanz, 15 + 15 students.


Indirect: All of the students involved in the project will share the information about it to at least 2 more study colleagues, meaning at least 60 people having indirect benefit.

After the first successful completion of the pilot digital classroom teaching project between Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Konstanz there will be continuous exchange of students between these two universities. In that sense the indirect benefit of the project is very diverse.

Main activities of the project and possible venue(s) where the project activities will take place:

Block seminar at the University of Konstanz, Germany, June 14-15, 2018, room M628.


June 14, 2018:

10:00am:        Welcome, plan for the next two days & any open questions

10:15am:        Teams report about their experiences and progress

10:30am:        Work in teams to finalize poster & Medium journal entry

12:30pm:        Lunch

2pm:    Work in teams to finalize exposé & poster

4pm:    Bring posters to printer in M5

5:30pm:          Guided city tour

7:30pm:          Dinner Constanzer Wirtshaus


June 15, 2018:

9:00am:          Final presentations & feedback

Public events in the frame of the project:

June 15, 2018:

9:00am:          Final presentations & feedback at the University of Konstanz, room M628.


The students involved in the project will present their printed posters and give final presentations.