Whilst many Australian Educational Bloggers are discussing what is a ‘global’ conversation about how technology changes learning, Rodger Stack, Tasmanian Educator has started a discussion which so far has appeared low on the Aussie radar.
MCEETYA are seeking input on the new National Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians for the next decade. This input is on a draft document – which will become something significant in education.
Rudd is busy with the ‘Education Revolution’ – and the visible discourse surrounds school getting laptops. Of course there were a raft of pre-election promises all aimed at highlighting how Rudd will be the architect of the digitalisation of learning and creating a 21st Century workforce.
What has transpired into ‘action’ is the exchange of information and promises from schools (including a mandatory photo with your friendly neighbourhood MP) – for laptops. Application for these is via a very prescribed audit, strategic plan and documented ‘intent’ – the rubric for ‘success’ – ie getting laptops – is designed and implemented by MCEETYA.
I am not sure that schools are aware of the highly political capital that this ‘information’ will produce. It requires schools to make predictions about staff development, use of computers, reform in curriculum, global citizenship and core levels of digital literacy that schools will develop. Such a document is highly speculative at best – as MCEETYA and Rudd are this far making no assurances or commitment to much of anything above handing out laptops. Add to this, the various additional caveats placed on this ‘laptop grab’ by the Catholic, DET and Independent School senior management – who have their own strategic plans.
For the classroom teachers – this wave is fast becoming a digital tsunami. But no one’s raised the alarm yet – so we can’t be surprised if it washes over teachers and students and causes untold chaos.
The laptops – well that in itself makes massive assumptions. Are they the best thing to use? – how do teachers use them? – how do they change classroom learning? Why are year 7 and 8 not counted as important? …I could go on … I will … and that is before we get into the cost of electricity to run them, infrastructure to connect them reliably around the school and in turn onto the internet … again another discourse with numerous implications – based assumptions.
Learning online is different – as schools and Universities continue to see the importance of creative, effective and well managed Learning Management Systems – this is a layer of learning that requires a high level of experienced ‘information architects’ to deliver and manage them. This would be in response to many of the MCEETYA draft aims – and indeed I see Universities as being key learning models in road mapping this – but to then ask schools to do it – without funding, support and massive reform is unworkable.
- have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy as a foundation for success in all learning areas
- are creative and resourceful and are able to think critically, analyse information and solve problems
- are able to learn and plan activities independently, collaborate and communicate ideas
- are motivated to reach their full potential
- have the capacity to make sense of their world and think about how things became the way they are
- are on a pathway towards further education, training or employment, and acquire the skills that support this, including an appetite for life-long learning
This is an admirable list of aims, and certainly relevant to tertiary educational institutions – but in secondary education – it is a co-morbid problem to achieve them. Syllabus reform is needed. For example: The Information Processing Technology Syllabus is so irrelevant – it’s core assumption is how data becomes information in a prescribed model that is now outdated. Curriculum reform also is needed.
Many whom impliment the curriculum have little exposure to the global conversation or changing abilities, needs and intrinstic motivators to students. You can hear that in my last podcast where students talk of ICT classes being in a very narrow manner at the teacher level. Then we have professional development strategies, management and pay structures … the issue balloons out rapidly.
We need massive educational reform to work to towards these aims.
We might as well set an aim of the law and order to focus on the development of ‘light saber’ technology and start to seek out and train the numerous people from the electoral role that cite their religion as Jedi – to create an Uber Police Force. It is just as fanciful.
Laptops will achieve non of this. Politicians cannot force it to happen either. It will take decades to achieve the above ‘draft’ ideals – even if Universities started to realise that they need to actually train and deliver ‘digitally enabled teachers’.
Now that we are seeing ‘government’ document and policy – what has previously been advocacy and an internal professional movement to ‘shift’ as people say – is now a political one – to which schools and teachers will be accountable. Even more concerning are the other Rudd rhetoric discourses – such as paying teachers on performance. How does this mesh with MCEETYA guidelines, or rather ‘terms of reference’.
Call me suspicious – but I see a day not too far out – where the government attempts to link the ‘laptops we gave you’ to teacher performance.
This document has so many implications for teaching, learning, students and the country – but it seems almost invisible. Rodger commented to me – that he can’t find any discussion about it – so he started one – so now make that two.
Why do we need to talk about it? – Read Sue Tapps post about her school – where they are charging students to access the internet – how does that stack up with the above aims? Sue Waters has also been talking about just how bizarre this policy really is in todays classroom.