Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Over NZ$34 million spent on ICT PD in education each year in NZ

Amazing isn't it! That over NZ$34 million is spent trying to get ICTs into teaching in New Zealand each year, and yet it is a struggle to find a school that can claim that ICTs is a significant feature in its practice. That's a lot of money for not much pudding! And the detail of Artichoke's post is even more concerning. To me it says at least 4 things.
  1. The managers of the funding don't have a clue where or why its all going
  2. The teachers aren't interested in ICTs
  3. There are a relatively small number of businesses and consultants out there eating it all up
  4. That the NZ communications infrastructure is in part causing money like this to be largely wasted.
The last idea is of interest to me, as I think it may be the most important. Broadband in this country is a right embarrassment. I recently upgraded my account to 512x186 (186 being the fastest upload available?) with a 5 gig limit. That costs me NZ$40 per month :( Before that I was on 256x186 with a 1 gig limit at NZ$30 per month. Their are cheaper plans, but I want life to be simpler.

Most teachers I know are actually still on dial up!! I haven't met any who know anything about WiFi yet! Let alone considered how effective Broadband WiFi everywhere might be for reducing mobile phone bills.. but on the flip side to that, NZ mobile comms companies are marketing 3 and 4 G mobile networks!!?

I have met some who say that they can't get broadband at home, and some who have looked into satellite broadband but decided it was too expensive. Admittedly I live in the South of NZ where it is almost accepted that there be a 5 year lag down here, but when it comes to ICTs and learning - I can't see how that's acceptable. In a country that can clearly afford to have broadband everywhere, no teacher or student home should be without it.

I don't think any real progress can be made in getting teachers to appreciate ICTs in learning until unlimited broadband (and WiFi at that) can be made common to all teachers and students across the country. I don't think the managers of the money will be able to see where and why the money goes until they get a bigger number of teachers using ICTs to look at. Admittedly for most, all it will mean is faster webmail, netbanking and trademe - but that's a start. If those 3 things are faster than on the pain of dial up, then that could mean more time to discover other things like, "I wonder what that wikipedia thing they talk about at work is all about?", or "what's on Google video tonight that I might be able to use tomorrow?", or "hey, I could probably talk to my aunt for free now with this Skype"...

NZ$34 million each year could go a long way towards getting unlimited broadband into a lot of houses. But would it fix the problem? Why is uptake of ICTs in education so expensive and yet so slow? Is it the shape of computers, is it key boards and screens, is it too much text? is this wisdom of the masses?

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Graham Wegner said...

I've been on broadband for a year at home (need to upgrade to 512MB though) and got a wireless router going about five months ago. I reckon my use of internet based stuff has dramatically increased because it is so easy to access - I don't even have to boot the kids off the desktop anymore to check my online happenings. We do have a broadband connections at my school but I doubt that it is powerful enough to cope with the traffic it gets. When I was working with classes using a wiki last term, the bottleneck effect reduced internet speed to a crawl, so much that I had kids asking me, "Doesn't the school have broadband?" My grant for my research on e-portfolios is only $4000 but it is probably a good example of money that could be used better elsewhere but I think you are right, some big companies and consultancies are sucking up big bucks somewhere (Learning Gateways and TLF spring to mind) - where does the money go? Still, about two thirds of my class are still on dial up and I reckon you're right, most teachers are too. We even have a teacher here who proudly proclaims that he's proud to have a computer free home!!

Jedd Bartlett said...

Firstly I totally agree with sentiments regarding need for faster and accessible bandwidth for all. Has to happen and soon!

Secondly regarding $$$figures ... would you send your children to schools where teachers had no laptops, and had not attended PD sessions?

Lastly, you say "yet it is a struggle to find a school that can claim that ICTs is a significant feature in its practice." There are reports that say otherwise; Ero's 2004 reports on elearning in primary and secondary areas, published in Feb 2005, and the MoE evaluations of the ICTPD cluster schools project. Alternatively I could provide you with a list of schools, although it might depend on how we define "significant features in school practice".

Anonymous said...

never let facts get in the way of a good rant eh

Artichoke said...

I'm with anonymous - what g-cred has artichoke in commenting on school wide adoption of ict in MoE ict_pd cluster schools - just gotta be a rant eh

Leigh Blackall said...

I'm not Art. If there are facts that indicate otherwise from your's and my observations - at least point (hyperlink) to them.

I suspect anymouse is the same one person leaving generally unhelpful remarks. Perhaps some day, he/she will at least take on an identity of some sort and do a bit more than make dismissive remarks and point to something that helps us out.

Anonymous said...

Leigh Blackall said...

That's much better Anon :) Thanks a bunch. There's some pretty interesting things in there. At first I suspected that many of the reports were a bit dated, but a couple were right up to 2005. I found the last one in the list a particularly quick reference.

So where does that leave us. Either Art' and I are talking out our butts as Anon implies, or there is something a miss between what appears in the reports, and what I hear from teachers and students I meet.

By the report, there can be no argument - infrastructure wise, NZ is pretty good. I must admit to being very impressed when I heard that every highschool teacher has access at least to their own laptop. And - as the report summary points out - there is a computer to student ratio of 1 to 4, and 93% of computers in HS are hooked up to a broadband internet connection.

So infrastructure wise, things look good. But when I meet teachers, they say, "yeah - looks good, but hardly anyone uses it much.."

Time to look deeper, thanks Anon.