I was interested to read an article in the Sunday Telegraph, (Criticism for Rudd school plan, 6 April) in which (public) school principals expressed concern that the Government’s Digital Education Revolution had “failed to address a number of issues: funding for the ongoing maintenance and eventual upgrade of computers… associated infrastructure of traditional classrooms…professional development for teachers….”
These are certainly valid points and given the short time-frames involved in the first phase of the Digital Education implementation, I believe the government’s ‘promise to deliver’ has obscured some fundamental questions, which all educators should be asking. We have, for decades, been lobbying governments for more resources and support especially since the technology revolution. There is no disputing that our schools need to be well equipped for the reality of living in a knowledge age.
However, it seems that the first stage of the government’s agenda misses some fundamental points of why schools need ICT and how it can best be used to improve learning for all students. The government has responded to the question of ‘how’ do we give every child a computer and seems to assume that computers for each student will of themselves improve the learning and deliver the schooling society is now demanding.
We must learn to walk before we begin to run. Therefore, we need to ask and answer six critical questions before we flood our secondary schools with computers. I believe these are:
- What is today’s world like?
- How do young people learn in today’s world?
- How do you make schooling relevant?
- How do you support good learning?
- What are today’s pedagogies?
- What tools are needed to support todays pedagogies?
No-one wants to waste increasingly scarce resources; everyone wants the best outcomes for school communities. But simply handing over equipment as the solution to learning has never worked as a stand alone strategy. Why should it be different in the knowledge age? Let’s ask the intellegent questions and take some time to develop some intelligent answers.