The digital literacy and 21st century schools inquiry

December 19th, 2012 at 10:21 am by David Farrar

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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14 Responses to “The digital literacy and 21st century schools inquiry”

  1. Carlos (683 comments) says:

    I have mixed feelings about putting so much emphasis on devices from a young age. I think it’s great that kids have access to a computer lab at school and have classes teaching them Word, Excel, etc, but to do everything on devices seems to have its drawbacks. Memory, spelling, grammar and handwriting will likely deteriorate even further for starters.

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  2. david (2,561 comments) says:

    Praise the Lord, someone has finally cottoned on to what our School Committee recognised in 1994. That is that the thrust should be about creating better learning outcomes by innovative and intelligent use of IT rather than specific learning about IT. Hence the first move was to supply laptops to all teachers and subsidise training in their use as a teaching tool, then rolling out networks throughout the school so that every classroom could utilise the technology and finally requiring all students to have a suitable device.
    One thing that was never needed was to teach kids how to use Excel or Word.
    But of course that enlightened school was a private school which wasn’t hidebound by Min Ed control freaks and allowed parents to have some input into the priorities for their kids because they all had a demonstrated desire for their kids to succeed. A bit like Charter Schools really but with less Government funding.

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  3. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    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,

    Translation juicy contracts for the purchase of “digital devices” available for friends of the government and more jobs for the boys girls all paid for out of the long suffering productive classes pocket.

    Educating kids on how to function in society and to be able to do real work to provide for themselves and their families putting food on the table etc falls further into the abyss

    Life aint a computer game and our elites are loosing touch with reality at an ever increasing rate it seems

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  4. David Farrar (1,900 comments) says:

    Andrei – you seem to be very sad that we no longer live in 1810?

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  5. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    My kids use IPads for a good chunk of the school day from 8yrs onwards. Mostly they play mine craft and watch Gangnum style videos. Same as us adults really.

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  6. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    Digital literacy?

    Why don’t they do something about actual literacy? Most NZers still can’t spell or analyze an argument.

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  7. Andrei (2,668 comments) says:

    Andrei – you seem to be very sad that we no longer live in 1810?

    No I’m a practical man who has raised four kids, three of whom are highly functioning members of society and the last of whom is about to embark on her final wasted year of school, where she will fritter away her time learning useless junk and be indoctrinated with BS and unrealistic expectations of what the world has on offer.

    We keep kids at school til they are ninteen these days and they leave in many cases unable to even hammer a nail into a piece of wood or make a cup of tea but knowing all about media portrayals of polynesian culture and theatre sports.

    In the real world people will need them to “make the tea” or in my eldest daughters case was wash the elderly in the old peoples home – which is fine she transformed that scut work into a degree, sans large student loan and is now doing a masters degree part time paid for by her employer and to be sure a modicum of “digital literacy” is required for her to perform her functions, enough to enter stuff into a computer and write notes, skills picked up in a few hours rather than years – but other stuff is way more important including people skills and the ability to work with others in a team and so forth.

    See three of my eldest’s contemporaries at school aspired to be TV reporterettes, THREE and nobody told them that NZ doesn’t need that many TV reporterettes or that it helps to be pretty to get that gig. So after THIRTEEN YEARS of school offthey went with shiney new laptops bought with borrowed money to learn how to be TV reportettes on borrowed money, living while they did so on borrowed money.

    And now one is on the dole, one works in a department store and the third actually got a gig with a regional TV station, where amongst other things she makes the tea between 30 second spots reporting on kindergatan trike-a-thons raising money for new sandpits etc.

    Hey ho

    I’m a practical man – New Zealand needs people who can dig ditches and put the powerlines back up when birds take them out and it needs to grow those people, not TV bimbos

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  8. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    My Daughters primary school has a commitment to IT investment. Already each classroom has at least 1 iPad as well as laptop availability and there is an ongoing programme of investment. What has been eye opening is how intuitive the tablets are for the younger year 1,2 and 3 children. The ability to manipulate programmes directly on the screen rather than through a keyboard allows them do develop their skills more quickly, It is worth every penny that the school is putting into it.

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  9. Viking2 (11,540 comments) says:

    Andrei
    +1 + many more.

    Like most others that ain’t been to school for more than 30 years I have learnt all I want to know about IT, computing etc from trial and error and following instructions. That we need to spend our lives learning IT is just another myth, especially as what you learn today will be obsolete with a few years.

    Human relationships, financial wizardry and basic stuff like cooking, and feeding oneself, using a hammer and nail etc are more important.

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  10. kowtow (8,712 comments) says:

    What Tom Jackson said.

    There’s a huge tail or whatever they call it of poor literacy and numeracy here in Aotearoa.

    The digital shit is relevant,but the basics have to be in place for every child first,before they can benefit from anything else in the system.

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  11. Harriet (5,085 comments) says:

    “….» 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….”

    Enviromentalism, sexualism, gayism, communism, racism against whites, hate against conservatism & religion, you name it – the kids are now gonna view it!

    Here comes the government propaganda machine – right into your kids classroom! :cool:

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  12. Griff (8,099 comments) says:

    We are connected.
    ALL OF US.
    It is not about learning IT or playing computer games. Kids are growing up in an environment where digital is the native language. . Digital learning will be central to the classroom of the future. There is a resource waiting for the education applications to be perfected. How quickly have the changes we have all seen come in social media and online information. Anyone still use a slip stick?
    Education should aim to be proactive in implementing information technology not hold onto the pens, encyclopedia and dictionaries of our generations.

    The changes we are seeing as the world connects are the greatest change for civilization since the printed word.

    It is how the world turns in this century.

    Of course the usual conservatives find this disturbing. The skills they learnt as kids are redundant :grin:

    Look harry it made a comment with No bum sex

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  13. bc (1,375 comments) says:

    Interesting that this education ‘good news’ happens the day that the Secretary of Education resigns (with a big payout on the horizon) because she couldn’t cope with her boss.

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  14. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Yahoo for the practical people who can use IT technology to sell their now much in demand services as there are so few of them left that the desk bound IT jockeys are now having to pay a premium for their services. I pads and the like maketechnology more accessible to hands on practical people who in the past have been excluded from demonstrating their superior 3D thinking because they are not book learners. Find someone with an Ipad or like and have a go, find a programme that lets you model something you would like to build or try the music making capabilities and don’t be surprised if your brain starts to do yippee somersaults.

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