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CONTACTA HochFranken 2023 launched: Education and training under the sign of AI

With a ceremonial opening event and a regional teacher training, the 14th CONTACTA HochFranken started on Tuesday evening in the premises of the Hof University of Applied Sciences. About 1500 pupils of the region can inform with the training fair on Wednesday and Thursday (27. and 28.9.23 in each case from 08.30h to 14.30h) with 85 enterprises as well as by expert lectures about vocational training and courses of studies. With 170 lectures by the high Franconian service clubs the young humans can receive additional views of the most diverse occupation and study fields.

Kick-off of the now 14th CONTACTA HochFranken in the Audimax of the Hof University of Applied Sciences;
Picture: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

The regional teacher training of CONTACTA forms the almost traditional first program point of the fair. In the “Audimax” of the Hof University of Applied Sciences, around 60 teachers came together for this to exchange and inform themselves on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a tool and challenge in the context of education”. Thomas Feyrer, a business teacher and vocational school teacher from Amberg, was a competent speaker on this hotly debated topic.

Programs are far from error-free

The relevance of AI for schools is clear: According to Thomas Feyrer, 23 percent of all inquiries to AI are now related to the education sector. For example, AI programs are now being used by students to solve school assignments, write texts or rephrase sentences – and this is despite the fact that the programs are still buggy: “The dangerous thing about AI language models is that the program makes its own errors seem believable. However, everything AI spits out should ideally be double-checked,” Feyrer says.

AI as an aid in the classroom

But the speaker immediately encouraged the audience:

“In the last 20 years, vast amounts of tasks have been added for teachers. Artificial intelligence – with all the risks that undoubtedly exist – can help meet this challenge!”

Thomas Feyrer

Even in their free versions, ChatGPT and Co. offer many possibilities for teachers: From the creation of multiple-choice tasks to the generation of cloze texts or entire articles for the annual report, the programs can now create many things in a matter of seconds – which those present were then able to try out live. What’s more, AI can now even help teachers assess academic performance.

Artificial intelligence can be used manipulatively

However, Feyrer also addressed the dangers of the new technology: For example, in response to short commands, AI can also create videos on individual topics, which can be used in any desired propagandistic and manipulative direction. AI can also apparently still be persuaded too easily, even argumentatively, to disseminate critical information: If the language model refused to provide information on how to get to the Internet’s “darknet” when first asked, the program immediately gave an answer to this when it was claimed, for example, that a journalist in North Korea needed this information because he could not publish anything otherwise.

In-depth media literacy needed

“Schools must adapt to this situation. Enhanced media literacy and in-depth text work will be necessary to see if topics have really been understood. Likewise, consideration may need to be given to which students can afford the better AI in the future, as quality is definitely a money issue,” said Thomas Feyrer. Although AI can also be detected and uncovered by itself, often, however, the insertion of a simple spelling error is enough to disguise the artificial creation of a text. “Nevertheless, AI will not replace us humans, of that I am convinced,” the speaker concluded.

Dr. Dorothee Strunz (SCHULEWIRTSCHAFT network) was rightly called “the mother of CONTACTA” by some speakers. She led through the kick-off event; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

Kick-off event with panel discussion

Around 150 guests from schools, business and the supporting service clubs came to the largest lecture room at Hof University for the subsequent kick-off event. Dr. Dorothee Strunz, chairwoman of the economy of the network SCHULEWIRTSCHAFT as well as university president Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann welcomed the guests – not without also asking the two district administrators present, Peter Berek and Dr. Oliver Bär, for a statement on the importance of artificial intelligence in their office.

Legal framework for municipalities still unclear

Hof’s district administrator combined this with an appeal to politicians:

None of us can grasp what AI will be able to do in the future – the world will change in a revolutionary way. One thing is certain: as municipalities, we will have to handle tasks more effectively in the future and collect data that we can work with later. In all of this, however, we must not jeopardize the high level of trust in the public sector. That’s why the legal framework for municipalities must be reliably defined for everyone beforehand.”

Dr. Oliver Bär, District Administrator of Hof County

“Wunsiedel’s District Administrator Peter Berek sees the possibilities of AI in particular and places his general trust in the young generation.

“I firmly believe in our young people. I am convinced that they will use their skills to maintain what generations before them have built up. We have to shape the changes in a way that will benefit us in the future.”

Peter Berek, District Administrator of the Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge district

Panel discussion

In the panel discussion that followed on the topic of “AI in the environment of schools, training and studies,” OstD Dr. Harald Vorleuter, ministerial representative for high schools in Upper Franconia, suggested that with any new technology, one must first know how to master it:

“We have to be able to evaluate the results and products of the new technology. And in schools and throughout the education sector, we will increasingly have to use oral questioning to check whether written content has really been understood.”

Dr. Harald Vorleuter, Ministerial Representative for High Schools in Upper Franconia

The ministerial authorities also reacted quickly to the advent of language production programs and offered a lot of in-service training for teachers, Vorleuter said.

Panel discussion on AI (from left, moderator Thomas Feyrer, Matteo Kind (trainee for IT DUAL at LAMILUX), Moritz Schott (student at Münchberg High School) and Jan Schiller (master’s student in computer science at Hof University of Applied Sciences); Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

Moritz Schott, a student at Münchberg High School, confirmed that AI has long been used by students:

“We are of course encouraged to question AI texts. However, fourth graders are already using AI, so the necessary media literacy training would have to start at a very early age.”

Moritz Schott, student

Matteo Kind, apprentice for specialist IT DUAL at LAMILUX, also sounded the same horn here, cautioning:

“Whether AI is used in the profession or not certainly still depends somewhat on the type of work and the area at the moment. Currently, however, there are still too few offers in vocational school, for example, to train in this area.”

Matteo Kind, apprentice

Jan Schilling, a master’s student at the Department of Computer Science at Hof University of Applied Sciences, indicated, “Studies today are already about how to reprogram AI so that you can use it on the job and for your very own use cases.” And further:

AI will undoubtedly change the vast majority of areas of the workplace. In scientific research, ChatGPT is already helping tremendously today. We will all use it a lot in the future – however, human soft skills are likely to become increasingly important for this in the professional world.”

Jan Schilling, Master student

Presentation of the P-Seminar Awards 2023

Finally, as the highlight of the event, a total of four outstanding P-Seminars and projects from the schools were awarded prizes by the Unternehmerinitiative Hochfranken and presented with the P-Seminar Prize 2023. The award winners:

  • Gymnasium Fränkische Schweiz Ebermannstadt (400 €)
    Seminar: MoCoWo – mobile co-working space”
    Lead subject: Art
    Teacher: Mia Schöpf
    Criteria that convinced the jury:
    Anyone can use the mobile space, internally or for renting to external people
    – Elaborate project by using many different working methods, work materials, tools and machines
    Many external partners who supported the project
  • Hochfrankengymnasium Naila (400 €)
    Seminar: Chamber of horrors – decorative bugs instead of vermin”
    Leading subject: Biology
    Teacher: Ann-Katrin Marquardt
    Criteria that convinced the jury:
    Animals are included in everyday school lifeVery complex and elaborate project
    – Many external partners who supported the project

  • Johann-Christian-Reinhart-Gymnasium Hof (400 €)
    Seminar: ” Grundwissen2go – Geschichte interaktiv wiederholen ( Basic knowledge2go – repeat history interactively)
    Leading subject: History
    Teacher: Anna Metz
    Criteria that convinced the jury:
    Historical events are brought closer in a playful way.Through an accompanying booklet it can also be used at home
    Promotion of social and professional skills
  • Jean-Paul-Gymnasium Hof (400 €)
    Seminar : “Cooque Diem
    Leading subject: Economics
    Teacher: Barbara Leupold
    Criteria that convinced the jury:
    Extensive and elaborate project
    First insights into the economy (founding a company, selling shares, creating a website)
    Very high commitment


CONTACTA HochFranken is supported by the SCHULEWIRTSCHAFT Hof network, the Hof University of Applied Sciences as well as by the Rotary Club Hof-Bavaria, the Rotary Club Hof-Bayerisches Vogtland, the Lions Club Hochfranken and the Lions Club Hof. The career information covers a total of 37 occupational fields. A total of 13 schools from Hochfranken and beyond are taking part. Among them are the high schools from Hof, Kronach, Ebermannstadt and Bad Lobenstein. The Hof University of Applied Sciences itself will also be presenting its range of courses in the fields of economics, engineering, computer science and interdisciplinary and innovative sciences during 27 lectures.

You can find all the information about the training fair at www.contacta-hochfranken.de

Rainer Krauß

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