The digital literacy and 21st century schools inquiry

Parliament’s Education and Science Committee has just released the report of their Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy. The 48 recommendations were agreed to unanimously (National, Labour, Greens and NZ First are on the committee. Some of the more significant or interesting ones are:

  • That it consider requiring all New Zealand teachers to demonstrate a defined
    standard of digital literacy and to undertake professional learning and development to maintain their digital literacy skills, knowledge, and understanding.
  • That it consider measuring and evaluating teacher training institutions on the quality of their digital literacy training.
  • That it consider ensuring that all appropriate New Zealand video content produced for public consumption is licensed and funded under a single national contract, and made available to all schools.
  • That it review the intellectual property framework for our education system to resolve copyright issues that have been raised, including considering Creative Commons policy.
  • That it consider research and the potential for a greater role of educational games as part of digital learning environments for 21st century learning and skill development.
  • That it review licensing arrangements for software, so that students have equity of access in schools and in homes, including the use of open-source software.
  • That it consider introducing a policy that every student have access to a digital device for learning, including the appropriate age for such a policy to apply.
  • That it consider reviewing the best institutional arrangements for providing the leadership to deliver both digital capability and 21st century learning environments. This review should include options such as, but not limited to, strengthening the Ministry of Education, extending the responsibility of Network for Learning Ltd, or establishing a new Crown entity.
  • That it consider that the Education Review Office report on the digital capability of schools in its regular school reviews.

The two most significant recommendations, in my opinion, are the recommendation that every student have access to a digital device for learning, and that a new crown entity be considered to provide leadership around digital learning, rather than necessarily try to do this from within the Ministry of Education.

There’s some inspiring examples of world leading at some of our schools in New Zealand. Normally this has come about due to a few motivated and skilled individuals. The challenge is to extend this to all schools, and to make sure is not just an add-on which you do in one class a week, but is a key part of the whole school experience. I’ve seen first hand how educational games on a device such as an iPad, can make learning fun for kids, and actually get them learning at a far faster rate than would be the case otherwise.

The Government is now required to consider the report, and respond to it in the first half of 2013.

UPDATE: Hekia Parata has welcomed the report and says she will respond in due course.

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