The Australian Digital Revolution

December 5, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Posted in Keynote, spotlight | Leave a comment

Evan Arthur who is the General Manager of the Digital Education Group in the Department of Education in Australia gave a presentation around the latest developments in ICT in Australia. The information he shared had only been confirmed last week.

 

He spoke about the problems that the Australian system faced:

  • Until recently the issue of the effective use of ICT in education has not been seen as a key national education policy issue
  • This has led to high levels of variation across Australia in computer penetration, access to affordable broadband and in provision of effective support structures
  • That there is no consistent approach to provision of content or access to educational tools across Australia
  • Many initiatives are local in scope and duplicate other initiatives, and
  • Teacher confidence to use ICT in their teaching practice varies significantly

 

Evan announced that in 2007 an $A1 billion four year election commitment was made in 2007 but this had now been upgraded to a five year $A2 billion program.

 

The funding has these five key elements to it:

  1. National Secondary School Computer Fund – $1.9 billion over 5 years to provide computers for all Year 9 to 12 students;
  2. $10 million over three years to develop support mechanisms for schools;
  3. Broadband Fibre Connections to Schools – $100 million for connections to all schools;
  4. $32.6million over 2 years for online curriculum tools, resources and supporting technical frameworks; and
  5. Professional Development for teachers on ICT.

 

In addition the Government will be investing $32.6 million over the next two years for

  • Access by teachers and students to digital content aligned with the national curriculum
  • ICT infrastructure integrated effectively in our schools
  • Building on current initiatives such as the Learning Federation (http://www.thelearningfederation.edu.au)

Australia will be developing a National Curriculum for the first time. A National Curriculum and Assessment Board is being established to guide the process. The curriculum will be developed by 2010 for implementation in all jurisdictions from 2011 (http://www.ncb.org.au/home_page.html)

 

One area they are committed to work on are the issues of interoperability to ensure all systems are able to speak to each other. This is a worldwide issue and one that we in New Zealand are currently grappling with.

 

It was great to see the proposed expenditure in ICT for education but I couldn’t help wondering how they will deal with some of the issues that we have faced. Things like adequate outlets and plugs in classrooms, schools having adequate networks, and of course the electricity capacity to drive the hardware. This particularly so because they want the ratio of one computer to two students in years 9 to 12. And I can for see some real issues over storage and security. It will be interesting to watch how each state deals with the issues.

 

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