21st century schools

Tom Pullar-Strecker reports at Stuff:

A select committee inquiry is likely to be held into whether schools are well able to take advantage of the new teaching and learning opportunities created by ultrafast broadband.

National Party MP Nikki Kaye said she would today call on the and science select committee to kick off an inquiry into “21st century learning environments and digital literacy”.

Ultrafast broadband could open up many more opportunities for online learning, but schools were moving at different paces to embrace the opportunities, she said.

“I hope that the overall outcome is that we are able to identify possible savings in technology and buildings, develop recommendations regarding optimal learning environments, and identify the skills required for teachers and students to achieve their full potential in the modern world.”

As the committee is comprised equally of government and opposition MPs, one opposition member would need to support the inquiry or abstain for the motion to pass.

It’s been announced that the select committee has voted to proceed with such an inquiry. I think it is a good and important issue for Parliament to be looking at.

Schools have been changing somewhat to take account of today’s technology but it has been relatively piecemeal and evolutionary. Some schools are doing absolutely amazing stuff, while others are struggling.

93% of schools will be connected by the end of 2014. This can have significant ramifications for how they operate. You may be able to live-stream classes, so sick students can follow from home. Or classes could be archived on the web for them to catch up. Should every student have an Internet capable mobile device? Should tests be done over the Internet? There may be opportunities for interesting speakers to be webcast into multiple classrooms and schools. Plus you have the potential for five year olds to learn how to read and do maths through interactive applications. The possibilities are almost limitless.

This appears to be a first principles review of what do we want our fibre connected 21st century schools and classrooms to look like. The ramifications could be quite significant.

The good thing is we already have some pockets of excellence around New Zealand for some of this, so it is not about having to start with an empty slate. It is about discovering what is already happening out there, and coming up with a blueprint applicable for the whole sector.

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