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 (

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 (


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.



E Portfolios for Teachers – The Irish Experience

December 5, 2008 at 2:36 am | Posted in spotlight | Leave a comment

E Portfolios for Teachers

Dr Victor McNair works in Teacher education and Training at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.
He gave an enlightening presentation on what Northern Ireland is doing to develop e Portfolios for Teachers in Training and  through their career.  Northern Ireland is currently running a pilot with 200  teachers. The plan is to have a full scale procurement of E Portfolios by 2010 and to implement with voluntary participation  by 2012.
The presentation was excellent in terms of grappling with the philosophical and practical  issues involved in implementing such practice.
Northern Ireland is  developing a body of knowledge, to  underpin strategic decisions and pathways and have  identified challenges and issues.
NZ is at a very early stage in the development  of E portfolios for teachers. There are pockets of experimentation.  For example, Jo Kahl at Wellington Girls’ College is setting up E portfolios for  provisionally registered teachers at the college, with a view to possibly running  a shared  programme across the Wellington Loop Schools. It is a good time for us to learn  from the Northern Ireland experience.

1. What is an E Portfolio?
“A collection of authentic and diverse evidence of teaching competence that has been the subject of reflection, synthesis and selection, for presentation to a professional audience for a specific purpose”

2. E Portfolios should enhance a drive for greater quality

Teacher Career Progression
Initial Teacher Ed
Early Prof Development
Performance Review
& Staff Development
Accredited Course
Teacher Leadership
3. Teacher E Portfolios should support such career progression

Development Principles

These were presented as a cycle which started with organisational freedom and ended with ownership of content

4. The Spectrum of Applications

This is available in Dr McNair’s presentation

5. Partners
The project is being done in full partnership with the equivalent of the Ministry of Ed,  Teacher registration Board, schools etc and involves the whole of the profession.
1.    Consensus on principles, purpose and roles
2.    Assessment of community needs and tool integration
3.    Software design and development
4.    Development of the change model and scalability
5.    Policy
6.    Organising constructive professional learning

6. It is based on the principle of building Reflective practice

1.    Professional knowledge and understanding (child development, learning and pedagogy, knowledge of a particular discipline, classroom/class/people management)
2.    Application of knowledge and understanding
3.    Informed professional activity – Reflection in Action
4.    Reflection on analysis, dialogue, evaluation
5.    Growth of deeper knowledge and understanding

7. The Process
1.    Identify teacher needs and student needs ( with HOD, Mentor, PRT Supervisor)
2.    Research the teaching principles
3.    Review with mentor
4.    Develop appropriate resources and prepare
5.    Teach
6.    Review
8. Teaching and Learning Issues
1.    Support issues
2.    Refinement of processes
3.    Longitudinal research/evaluation
4.    Greater testing and sharing the innovation

Dr McNair’s presentation can be found online at:

Innovation, Innovation, Innovation!

December 4, 2008 at 8:00 am | Posted in spotlight | Leave a comment

Don Richardson is Director of Innovation Management Strategy for the Business Architecture, Platforms and Solutions Group at Microsoft.
He presented  a picture of industry trends and insights about innovation systems. There are many analogies that we can  make in the schooling system.

Innovation  is a CEO’s #1 priority.
•    In the current age companies cant compete on costs alone.
•    Research suggests innovation comes from a number of places but that 46% in any company is internally generated. In order from:
1.    Employees
2.    Business partners
3.    Customers
4.    Consultants
5.    Competitors
•    Big question for leaders is are we managing employees well enough to allow innovation to flourish?

I immediately thought of the culture that leadership engenders in our schools? Are leaders aware enough to build open and transparent cultures where  experimentation and innovation are fostered amongst staff and students?

Paradoxically perhaps, innovation needs a process or framework shared across an organization so it can flourish. This sometimes seems antithetical to creativity. Creativity V Structure
However process and transparency provide an execution vehicle for creativity. They balance creative freedom with quantifiable structure and ensure objective and timely decisions.

Open Innovation is the notion that the presence of smart people outside your own company pose an opportunity. Internal efforts can be multiplied many times through the embrace of other’s ideas and inspiration.

The innovation process is sometimes seen as a funnel. At the widest end, in strategizing, it allows as many as possible to participate.  As innovation is delivered, it may involve fewer people.
The mantra  is Engage,  Evolve,  Evaluate, Execute.
The best ideas may often come from an individual, but  they are grown by team collaboration.
Many companies use a simple proforma to capture ideas. The process can be digitized and an individual has anonymity until they are ready to have their idea published. Such ideas can then be tracked through a life cycle, and can be released to be worked on individually or by a whole team.
There are a raft of other considerations: incentives, workspace, score systems, business case development, idea definition, portfolio analytics and innovation management.
It was fascinating to learn of this coherence in delivering innovation.

An example of open innovation possible with the internet is – T shirt design, where people compete to come up with the best captions for shirts.

I readily thought of examples closer to home in NZ. Last Thursday on the Wellington Loop Innovation Tour, Brian Colhoun of Silverstripe, gave every Principal and teacher on the tour a CD  which contained everything required to build a Silverstripe website. In giving away this intellectual property he said: “Give this to your most innovative and creative ICT literate students.  Tell them to make use of it and then get them to come and tell us what they have done! We will find work for them!”

“Even the giants can learn to think small”
All individuals can drive innovation.

Our schools are full of potential innovators. It is our responsibility to be innovators ourselves but more importantly to  enable the younger innovators  in our schools to flourish.

Spotlight – Senator Patty Murray

December 3, 2008 at 6:06 am | Posted in spotlight | Leave a comment

Day One – Spotlight – Senator Patty Murray – Washington State

Senator Murray presented an empassioned plea for urgent action in bringing about change in our education system, saying:

“The need to change the way we cater for education in our young people is urgent. We can’t reinvent our economy unless our workers are adequately prepared!”

She spoke about the solutions that are required, citing the three key principles identified by her team:

  1. need to build partnerships between and among schools, businesses and the community (everyone must have a stake in the outcomes of education)
  2. need to stop being afraid to change tradition
  3. must absolutely back up our plans with adequate resources (sustained, long term efforts)

Senator Murray then went on to describe some of the interventions that her team are planning to make this a reality in the Washington area, finishing with the statement that;

“The link between academic performance and economic performance in critical.”

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