Interactive Education

  • Wyatt Creech

Prime Minister, colleague Maurice Williamson, guests

What we are officially launching today is this document - it is a glossy manual which contains details of the new Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for Schools.

Well this is what we are officially launching. But the new Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for Schools is about much more than what is contained in these pages. To make it work you - teachers, principals, students and businesses have to be happy with it and have the skills to make it work for you and your schools.

This Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for Schools is not a Government imposed solution to getting our young people fitted in to the information technology revolution.

To get even this far we have turned to teachers, practitioners and business experts to help sort out the best way forward.

We have managed to isolate out funding in this year's Budget for information technology in schools. One of the first things we did was get Carol Moffatt, until then a Principal in an area school and a person who had worked with this technology at the chalkface, to lead the development of this new strategy.

Carol has managed a very challenging job extremely well, and has helped shape a strategy that matches with realism what can be done with the money available, with the need to get every school, every teacher and every student au fait with what information technology and computers can do for teaching and learning.

Like most things in education, even if you had a blank cheque, you still wouldn't have enough to get the right answer. We don't. We have won a significant pool of resources and we will use it to the best effect.

This strategy balances well government's commitment, the needs of teachers and students and the opportunity for businesses and the community generally to be involved.

Now is the time to move. As the world changes, so too does the availability and access to information.

Just as the industrial revolution radically changed the "way of the world', the 'information technology revolution' is already changing teaching and learning in schools, and there is a lot more to come.

This strategy seeks to create a partnership between education, the community including business and the Government. We want to build on the outstanding practices of some New Zealand schools by encouraging all to extend their horizons.

In the past we have made a number of steps towards lifting the profile of information and communication technology in schools - and I have been to many classrooms where teachers rave about their success in using ICT programmes. But I have also been into classrooms where extracting teaching benefits from IT is way down on their list of priorities.

"Interactive Education" - an Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for Schools will help to bridge the gaps.

Many schools want simple practical advice from those who have been there before and are trusted. Schools with minimal experience will value the opportunity to speak with and observe schools, which are further down the track so as to gain confidence and avoid the pitfalls, which the pioneers have worked through.

A key challenge for us all is to ensure that teachers are capable and confident in their use of the new learning technologies to enhance student outcomes and manage their professional workload. Appropriate professional development activities will recognise and build on existing knowledge and capabilities; and enable teachers to set meaningful goals for themselves against reasonable standards by providing timely, hands-on opportunities to achieve these targets.

Our schools have to be committed to adapt as required by the new technologies. An environment that supports ICT is one where the whole school community understands and is behind the strategy and the shared goal. The school community and the wider community also need to encourage teachers as professionals to move boldly.

Education in the 21st century will be continuous. It is not something completed in one place, at one time. The networked technologies will make this possible by enabling those still learning to take part both locally and globally to broaden the knowledge base.

We have identified three clear outcomes we want achieved by the year 2002. They are:

Better education outcomes for all students through the use of Information and Communication Technologies in teaching and learning
more effective teaching by using ICT to help deliver the curriculum and to cut the amount of time spent on bureaucracy and administration
more opportunities for schools, business and Government to work together to develop an information-technology-literate workforce.
Now to the detail of how we plan to turn this into reality. We have focused on two main areas: infrastructure and professional development.

The main feature of the infrastructure will be an Online Resource Centre.

The Online Resource Centre for schools and communities of interest connected with schools will provide a main point of contact for curriculum, management, and professional development. While initially facilitated by the Ministry, a management committee consisting of educationalists, contractors, business, the Ministry with other interested parties will develop the site further and respond to the changing needs of schools.

The second part of the Strategy will build on current professional development and extend them much further. Without substantial and extended professional development so all are up to speed with innovative methods of teaching the technology itself will not achieve its full potential

We need, as is the case in every aspect of educational improvement, strong school leadership to succeed in getting information and communication technologies really integrated in to teaching and learning. To provide a base for this to happen from early next year there will be a programme for all school principals across the country. This programme will outline the strategy in detail as well as providing an Information and Communication Technologies Planning Guide to support schools. Inspirational leadership will drive us forward.

The current Information Technology Professional Development (ITPD) programmes which have had significant support from schools, will be continued for two more years.

Schools and groups of schools who have shown innovation and leadership with information and communication technologies will be able to apply to become professional development schools. The intention is to encourage further innovation by supporting these schools by allocating funding to further professional development in ICT. These professional development schools or groups of schools will be able to extend their own developmental work in ICT as well as supporting those schools in the surrounding regions.

Next year 23 professional development schools or groups of schools will be selected.

These initiatives will be backed up with the promotion of a computer recycling scheme to promote the donation of computers to schools.

Of course other measures and initiatives that have been in place for some time to promote the use if information technology in schools will continue, these include the NETDAY promotion and the Financial Assistance Scheme, where the Government provides at least 50% of the costs of approved capital works including cabling for local area networks.

There has been tremendous support in the development of this strategy from many sectors of the community. While not always agreeing on every point there has been a strong willingness to work together to move ICT development forward in our schools.

From the Accord group which has met and written a supporting document for schools, to the reference groups, and to ITAG which prepared a strategic direction for schools earlier this year to the business sector which is supporting the release with special promotions which will be announced tomorrow at the Focus Day.

This strategy is the basis from which we must all work together - primary, secondary, distant, close in, whatever - we must all work together to build a strong information and communication technologies programme in our schools.

Our future wellbeing depends on our schools, business and Government all working together to deliver on the challenges in front of us.

The Focus Day tomorrow is an opportunity for many of you who are at the chalk face to roll up your sleeves and really think out ways to return to your schools enthused and willing to inject information and communication technologies into the every day running of, and learning at, the school.

I hope you seize the opportunity with relish, and return to your students with a fresh enthusiasm and knowledge of the potential that information and communication technologies holds for the future.