Dr. Evan Arthur, Group Manager, Digital Education and Youth Transitions Group , Dept of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra on the topic “Implementing the Digital Education Revolution (DER)”. Barriers to implementation: lack of functional ubiquitous computing environment, lack of ability to connect teachers and students with each other all the time everyhwere and at an affordbale price, lack of content matched with easy-to-use tools that make it easier to use technology for work in the classroom that without using technology, IP and copyright isssues, staff development for teachers, etc.
Technology is pervasive in students’ lives outside of school but not within school – often peripheral to classroom instruction. The DER is a five-year $2.2 billion programme to embed ICT in the curriculum, and enable teachers and administrators to shift from being managers of bad ICT to being innovators with functioning technology – a scalable network that is affordable and optimises effective educational use of the bandwidth. IN NZ we have NEAL and other urban-fibre MUSH networks but little uptake from schools connected to these. So beyond the infrastructure is the problem – tools, content that enable teachers to easily carry out their core educational role using technology. There is $40 million for teacher and school leader professional development in ICT – could sure use that in NZ !
There is a need to ensure that data on performance in the Australian school system is activcely used to improve performance – by driving change in ICT skill and use, and linking this to effective technology use in the National Curriculum. Standardised testing etc – NZ is now heading down this road with TKI etc. But teachers still don’t use ICT because it is still easier to do core tasks offline rather than online – so the answer is to make more easier to use ‘low-threshold applications’ than enable sharing and collaboration.
I think the ‘McDonaldization’ thesis can provide an alternative critical perspective on this somewhat top-down rational approach to the problem of implementing the DER – more on this in later posts.