24 Learning: David Warlick - We have no choice!??

24 Learning

Sunday, October 15, 2006

David Warlick - We have no choice!??

David Warlick made this comment on his recent blog.

Maine was the first of a handful of states in the U.S. that have decided that it is the state’s responsibility to take learning into the 21st century by investing in access to digital networked information for every teacher and student. Led by former governor, Angus King (present at the opening of the conference), it was a bold and expensive move, especially for a state as rural as Maine — and a state so challenged by rapid economic change.
I come away even more convinced that we are not going to achieve the changes in public education that some of us preach, until we have thrown out the paper and started teaching from a purely digital networked information environment. Staff development will be critical. Leadership will be critical. But the sense that I got from the conversations I had and overheard at that conference is that presented with the void of a new and barely tapped information tool, your great teachers (leader teachers) will blaze trails very quickly and very creatively, and the rest will follow.
We have no choice!

Is he right? If he is, what does this mean for the NZ education system. The government have spent, in recent years, considerable amounts (considerable is debateable btw) of money on professional development but very little on equipment. Schools still struggle with the sausage sizzle and cake stall mentality that they use to provide technology for students. I absolutely applaud the focus on professioanl development but now I think it is time for some serious $$ to be spent on providing hardware and infrastructure to schools. Some of this is slowly happening but in my opinion it is too little and far too slow. We now have one laptop per teacher in NZ. This is wonderful. Now it is time to give schools enough to put laptops in the hands of every student or at least on a ratio of 1:3 for pupils years 5-10 and 1:1 for years 11-13.


Blogger gregcarroll said...

Hi Paul,
not sure i agree with you about 1:1 being the ultimate goal in primary schools. While ICT's and digital literacy have to be a focus social goals and interpersonal skills have to be central to what we do.
ICT's are tools and not an end in themselves!
I also struggle with us putting kids exclusively behind screens in the seconday system when we have spent so much time in primary schools getting them to be social and work cooperatively.
the technical support issues with large numbers of laptops are huge and from what I have seen and heard from places like Maine, they are talking full time tech support for 80-100 machines maximum. Now there is some real cost ... way more than a few cake stalls. There's a challenge.

9:03 pm  
Blogger Paul Wilkinson said...

Actually Greg I agree with you. I don't think I was saying 1:1 was my ideal goal. I had 1:3 ratio in my year 7 class and this worked mostly pretty well. I do know that I wouldn't be without my computer now and that I also wouldn't want to have to share t with anyone. I want access to it at anytime that I need it. This is why I think year 11 is probaly about the time students might need their own laptop. Absolutely agree that they are tools. You wouldn't expect to hear a teacher saying to a child "you will have to wait to take turns with the pencils, we only have one pencil to share between us so you will just have to wait your turn!" Now OK I know pencils and computers are not quite in the same price bracket but if you take cost out of it I wonder if the issue is the same??? I don't deny the support challenge. It is very real. Even at a primary school level the challenge is huge. Some primary schools are getting upwards of 100 computers now and some are doing this with 1 hour a week tech time!!! That is just rediculous in my opinion. If you had a business with 100 computers you would have an IT department!. I don't think it is an excuse for not delivering though. Maybe the answer is going to come in the form of smaller more personal devices. I think cell phones may develop into the tool we are currently thinking the laptop is.
Lots of exciting things ahead. Thanks for the feedback. It is great to bounce the thinking off some one via a response.


3:10 pm  

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