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The Failed Revolution? 23 February, 2013

Posted by paralleldivergence in education, ICT in Education, Politics.
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I’ve posted several articles here about Kevin Rudd’s/Julia Gillard’s Digital Education Revolution, from its ambitious inception through to one state’s innovative interpretation of it, and ultimately its relegation to national folly status.  Then I read Greg Whitby’s latest article.

gregwhitby

I tried posting a comment on the Australian Teacher Magazine’s guest article last night, but comments are moderated because their teachers and readers can’t be trusted to comment professionally, and I just can’t allow Mr Whitby’s post to stand without any visible responses.

I’m so sorry that other states and educational jurisdictions did not have the foresight back in 2007/8 to realise that the Federal Government’s original funding plan for computers to allocate to students alone was never going to be “revolutionary”. The $2.3B plan was flawed from the start and every state should have challenged the Federal government to deliver a viable end to end solution rather than something that might sound good to voters. You can’t get value from PCs if they are not connected to the Internet and if they don’t have local technical support. And most importantly, you can’t use them effectively as a teaching and learning tool without targeted professional development for teachers.

That’s exactly what the NSW Government of the time did through the strong recommendation of the NSW Education Department. They actually directed all public high schools in NSW to boycott the first year’s funds (something that was totally unheard of!) until the Federal government finally relented and agreed to a further $550M to also fund managed wireless in every single learning space, a full-time in-school Technical Support Officer for every high school and funding to allow for necessary ongoing staff development each year and the creation of relevant and practical resources. In addition, the NSW Government understood how critical it would be that every high school teacher also has their own laptop computer and funded that purchase themselves.  All of this was done to ensure that that state’s version of the Revolution could have the chance to actually be successful and revolutionary.

The DER NSW project is now in its 5th and unfortunately, final year. Did its legacy deserve to be described as Greg Whitby did? Hardly. It’s worth looking at a real academic evaluation of the program before judging it as “an initiative of its time”. The NSW Government arranged for such research and has proudly posted it all for the world.  That’s why “the New South Wales Government (is) seeking a funding guarantee from the Commonwealth to replace outdated computers”, Greg.

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Comments»

1. Glenn - 23 February, 2013

Great response that much better reflects the New South Wales experience of the Digital Education Revolution. While there were teachers in my school that initially shunned the laptops and all they brought, within three years, I saw major changes in teaching attitudes, new skills development and a resurgence among jaded teachers. It will be an absolute tragedy if we are forced to go back to the old ways.

2. Ben - 26 February, 2013

Totally disagree Stu. Other jurisdictions (such as the one I work in) also boycotted the first year, but were shafted in terms of funds. The legacy for us is that we still have computers in boxes and no money to roll them out and now no money to support them.

paralleldivergence - 26 February, 2013

Interesting. So for you it was a total waste of money then? Can I ask what state you work in, and is it public or private?

Ben - 27 February, 2013

Wasn’t a total waste as we did get 45 new machines deployed within the school and active.

Won’t say public or private, but will say I’m in the NT.


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