recommendations for policymakers?

One of the aims of any piece of academic research is to inform policy. We were asked recently to do just that … so here are some of our immediate thoughts on what policy messages are coming from our research so far.

If we were the Minister for Education in the Australian Federal government we would strive to …

  1. Establish a Federal agency to champion/support/advise schools in the best use of technology:  the US has a long-standing Office for Educational Technology; the UK had the BECTA agency. Most schools do not have the time or energy to get especially excited about technology – they need a kick-start!
  2. Provide high-quality connectivity and devices for under-resourced schools. There is definitely a need to support under-resourced schools. The last Labour ‘Computers in Schools’ program was well-received and now much missed. Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal is a current success story (smaller country but innovative approaches toward remote/poor communities).
  3. Establish high-quality connectivity in under-served communities for children/young people to access after school. This can be done in terms of household subsidies and/or community hubs (such as libraries, youth/community centres). We don’t want kids to have to rely on McDonalds wi-fi to do their homework!
  4. Establish a national ‘Open Education Resource’ repository for teachers to share online learning resources freely. These already exist amongst pockets of enthusiastic teachers, but a national/official hub would have the scale and clout to get *all* teachers involved.
  5. Make better use of the data that is being generated by technology use in Australian schools. There is potential to use this data for powerful ‘learning analytics’ across individual schools, state systems and on a national basis … but schools need advice/support/protection in terms of data use. This Economist article outlines the issue (and the problems that the inBloom initiative faced in the US!).
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Ed-tech is definitely an area worth pursuing in the Education portfolio. There has been a withdrawal of federal and state government interest in this area – and the policy vacuum has certainly left under-served schools, teachers and students struggling to deal with technology.