Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Students in a digital age - MCEETYA

Its a worry when the ICTs in Schools Task Force, for the Ministerial Council on Education Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) puts out a paper titled Students in a digital age: Some implications of ICTs for teaching and learning, and only makes it available in a MS word.doc format, in columns, and that doesn't show up using their own search engine!!

So to make things easier for us all, I've turned it into a PDF and uploaded a copy to ourmedia. (I'm within the progressive copyright statement on the paper too).

On what's in the paper: Unfortunately the article relies heavily on offshore (US and UK) research on Internet usage to describe the impact of ICTs here in Australia. This highlights the serious need for a quantity and variety of Australian research done on our own Internet usage. What little Australian data there was mentioned I am extremely skeptical of, such as:

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) gathered information about student use of ICT from large representative national samples of 15-year-old students using its student questionnaire in 2003 (OECD, 2004)3. From these data it was found that 93% of Australian students had a computer at home that they could use for school work, 83% had a link to the internet and 67% had educational software for the computer.
93% have a computer at home that they can use for study!! That doesn't reflect my own personal observations at all! But its a number at least. Something for number people to chew on. But the number I'd like to accept as golden is this one:

Percentage of weekly use to look up information: 74%
Percentage of weekly use with educational software: 10%

"Quick!" I hear our leaders say, "we need more educational software!"

The article goes on to very briefly mention devices other than computers, concerns of a digital divide, and a possible disconnect in ICT use between younger and older generations. Indeed it is with Prensky's work that the paper seems to rely for drawing meaning and implications out of the statistics. I think generationalism and digital game based learning, while interesting, are too simplistic to be of any real use. Perhaps the US paper Digital disconnect does a better job at describing such issues, and suggests what type of research is badly needed here in Australia.

I was sorry to see no mention of the tension between departmental ICT infrastructure and the common use of ICT in the home, namely software and security measures, or much focus of digital literacy issues ;)

Oh well, good for getting a picture of where MCEETYA's ICTs in Schools Task Force heads are at...

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