While it might still be necessary to produce a couple of pretty looking printed copies of such reports for PR proposes, these are a waste of time and money for actual practical use. Government policy makers have entered the digital age and are capable of using web pages. It is not necessary to give them electronic documents in PDF format which closely mimic paper reports.
In my policy development work I have found that if you provide policy advisers easy to read simply formatted electronic material, your recommendations are more likely to adopted. This is because the busy advisers can more easily understand what you are proposing and if they like it, can simply copy and paste from your document into their report. In contrast Education.au's PDF reports are hard to read on screen and can't easily be copied from.
One of the lessons from the success of the Internet is that the use of this technology comes from actually using it. Education.au have written an excellent set of recommendations, but have not really taken them to heart by providing them using the technology they are recommending be used. Education.au needs to lead by example, if they want their recommendations to be credible.
Summary of recommendations
The SICTAS projectEducation.au was commissioned by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to undertake the Strategic ICT Advisory Service (SICTAS) project during the 2008 – 09 financial year.
The purpose of SICTAS was to provide DEEWR with strategic advice to assist policy makers in the development of policy and programs to support the implementation of ICT in Australia’s education and training sectors.
The SICTAS project was commissioned as a response to the complex environment in which policy makers are currently working. The environment is made complex by a range of factors including Australia’s political structure of cooperative federalism, the range of approaches required to address the needs of multiple sectors within education and training, and the rapidly changing technological environment.
Education.au developed a program for the SICTAS project that incorporated a range of inter-related activities. These activities were designed to respond to DEEWR’s requirements for advice relating to the implementation of ICT across all education and training sectors, and to engage with stakeholders in the sectors, both through providing avenues for them to contribute to the thinking underpinning the investigative research program and through publishing and broadly promoting the findings.
SICTAS activities included the following:
- an investigative research program that delivered five published reports on topics, including
- ICT in collaborative teaching and learning
- site-blocking of Web 2.0 tools and services
- national software infrastructure with an emphasis on gaining the most benefit for education and training from Web 2.0 tools and services
- professional learning for in-service teachers in schools
- e-portfolios as lifelong learning and career development tools beyond education and training
- a think tank program that engaged leading thinkers across the education and training sectors, incorporating online discussion and a national symposium
- a report on emerging technologies that synthesised the findings of the investigative research program and the think tank around the implications of new and emerging technologies for
- learning and learners
- professional learning
- infrastructure for supporting implementation of ICT in education and training
- two short papers, referred to as hot topics, that provided information on issues arising during the course of the project including
- a set of case studies to build a model of characteristics of successful ICT support for the implementation of ICT in schools and VET
- a review of the approach to embedding the use of ICT in teacher training for pre-service teachers.
Summary of recommendations
Collaboration in teaching and learning
The Collaboration in teaching and learning report, focused on collaborative learning as it relates to ICT.
Collaborative learning is a broad term for educational approaches involving joint intellectual effort by students, or students and teachers together. Considerable evidence has been found for its educational benefits, and the success factors required to support it have been identified.
This investigation finds that effective collaborative learning using ICT is dependent on services and skills that are not specific to collaborative learning, but are essential for the provision of ICT in
education more generally. The report provides a number of recommendations that focus on leveraging from the considerable investment by the Australian Government in ICT for education and training to provide benefits across all sectors and to support the delivery of education options to disenfranchised groups such as remote and regional users.
Provide access to post-secondary education options for remote and regional users leveraging the investments being made through the schools-focused DER and existing broadband initiatives.
Extend the digital education revolution concept to the VET and University sectors.
Task a national body to work through national partnerships to reduce fragmentation of effort, and making best use of the investments made in ICT in education at a broad level, and collaborative learning in particular.
Embed new media literacy skills into Australia’s national curriculum in a consistent way independent of specific technologies.
Web 2.0 site blocking in schools
The rapid emergence of Web 2.0 has presented the education and training sectors with a dilemma. On the one hand, Web 2.0 tools and services provide rich opportunities to improve student learning by significantly contributing to personalised, collaborative learning and supporting the development of internet literacy. On the other hand, teachers and school policy makers face a number of challenges in regard to effective use of Web 2.0 in teaching and learning, ranging from lack of teacher knowledge, confidence and expertise in the use of Web 2.0 tools and ervices to the inflexibility of site blocking policies and systems.
The Web 2.0 site blocking in schools report investigates current practices across schools with relation to site blocking and makes a number of recommendations related to the role of the Australian Government in policy development and implementation and in the establishment of national collaboration to showcase and share best practice in the development of tools and techniques in Web 2.0-aware content filtering, tools and safe access to rich media content.
Establish a national collaboration to identify, promote and share best practice in the development and implementation of Web 2.0-style collaborative online learning policies within schools.
Establish a national collaboration to showcase and share tools and techniques in Web 2.0-aware content filtering, tools and safe access to rich media content.
Towards a 21st Century national software infrastructure for education
This investigation builds upon the Collaboration in teaching and learning and Web 2.0 site blocking in schools reports and provides a picture of the essential elements of national software infrastructure for education and training.
An overarching focus of the SICTAS project has been on the need for a culture that embraces and seeks to benefit from ongoing technological change. Accordingly, the Towards a 21st Century national software infrastructure for education report emphasises infrastructure that supports and enables the integration of Web 2.0 tools and services and new and emerging
The Towards a 21st Century National Software Infrastructure for Education report provides an analysis of current national infrastructure and identifies gaps and opportunities for integration of existing services and projects. The recommendations are focused on the three key elements of national software infrastructure – software services, interoperability standards, and governance, leadership and operations.
Add support for learner-centric identity and collaboration services to the existing national software infrastructure.
Commence trials to inform development of a national Web 2.0-enabled collaborative interoperability service.
- Commence trials to inform the development of integration of strong authenticated trust services (as currently provided by the Australian Access Federation) with Web 2.0 user-centric identity and social networking services.
- Extend the Australian Access Federation (AAF) into a national cross-sectoral service for Trust, Identity and Access Control.
Develop an ongoing national collaborative capability to sustain and enhance the national software infrastructure in a rapidly changing technology environment.
Teacher professional learning: Planning for change
The investigation into teacher professional learning for in-service teachers looked at the challenges for schools in integrating ICT into teaching and learning, and was informed by input from one of the tankettes. The report includes case studies of four schools (including public and private, primary and secondary) which are addressing the challenges of providing appropriate professional learning for teachers to encourage an integrated approach to using ICT with their students.
The Teacher professional learning: Planning for change report states that professional learning for teachers needs to be supported by the establishment and maintenance of ICT standards in schools for both students and teachers and makes recommendations that indicate the importance of the Australian Government’s role in developing a national approach in this area.
The report also recommends the development of a national strategy for professional learning, citing the example of LearnScope, the professional learning program for the VET sector administered through the Australian Flexible Learning Framework (Framework).
That the Australian Government take a leadership role in collaboration with the jurisdictions to develop a national professional learning strategy for schools, based on sound research into good practice school improvement. That this strategy frames the Australian Government's support for ICT-
related professional learning.
That the Australian Government takes a leadership role, through the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority and in collaboration with the states and territories, to develop
and maintain ICT standards in schools. The standards should build on existing state, territory and other jurisdiction plans and provide a common language and direction for the integration of ICT in the school curriculum.
That the Australian Government take a leadership role, in partnership with other education authorities and entities, in implementing and maintaining the ICT competency framework for teachers as described in the Raising the Standards18 report. A key component of the described framework is teacher standards.
The Government should task AICTEC, through its advisory bodies, to develop teacher ICT standards for:
E-portfolios beyond education and training
- pre-service teachers
- practising teachers
- school leaders
- teacher educators.
A large amount of work has already been and is currently being undertaken around the use of e-portfolios within education and training. This investigation has sought to provide insight into use of e-portfolios in Australia’s current economic climate, where policy makers are challenged regarding how best to support and manage Australia’s workforce.
E-portfolios arguably become most important as they are used to help prepare and support transitions. These may be transitions within educational settings, between education and employment (and vice versa), or changes in employment status.
The E-portfolios beyond education and training report provides case studies of a number of international examples of the use of e-portfolios to assist people in the workforce and in career development. It makes recommendations that include enhancing current national infrastructure to enable Australians to use an e-portfolio to enhance career development, lifelong learning, and
Expand Myfuture to include the following:
Fund e-portfolio trials in areas of particular relevance to Australia.
- the types of e-portfolio services offered by Careers Wales
- features that address labour market adjustment issues, particularly the needs of workers dealing with unemployment and trying to get back into the workforce
- multiple user interfaces to support different audiences
- appropriate communications tools for collaborative reflection in professional development.
Fund interoperability trials between the recommended ‘Myfuture’ e-portfolio and existing Australian institutional e-portfolios.
Annual report on emerging technologies: planning for change
The Annual report on emerging technologies: Planning for change report is the culmination of SICTAS’ investigative research program. It incorporates and extends the recommendations made in the preceding reports and includes strategies and actions that support the recommendations.
The work of this report is informed by the tankettes, the symposium and submissions from invited peak bodies.
Extensive research is already available into particular technologies through such projects as Horizon. Accordingly, the Annual report on emerging technologies: Planning for change focuses on the implications of continuous and rapid technological change for learning and learners, for professional learning and educators, and for national infrastructure and policy makers.
The report’s recommendations highlight the Australian Government’s crucial role in providing strong and visionary leadership and coordinating development of policy and programs to support the integration of ICT in education and training. The focus is on how to leverage extensive work at national and jurisdictional levels to provide benefits for all users of education and training across Australia.
Implement an ICT in teaching and learning continuum so that learners’ new media literacy skills and abilities are augmented as they move through the education sectors.
Task a national body to support national collaborative partnerships to reduce fragmentation of effort, and make best use of the existing and future investments made in ICT.
Commit to providing ongoing resourcing and funding to maintain, sustain and enhance a technology rich environment for the education and training sector.
Develop and implement a national approach to software infrastructure that minimises the barriers to effective use and sharing of resources, and maximises access.
Address the complications of Australian copyright law in a way that encourages sharing and exchange of resources in the education and training sector, including the implementation of Creative Commons across Australian education and training.
That the Australian Government take a leadership role in collaboration with jurisdictions, sectors and educational institutions to develop a national professional learning strategy based on sound research into good practice.
The Australian Government take a leadership role, in partnership with other education authorities and entities, in implementing and maintaining the ICT competency framework for teachers as described in the ‘Raising the Standards’ report, but look to apply this to teachers in each of the education sectors.
A key component of the described framework is teacher standards. The Government should undertake to task AICTEC, through its advisory bodies to develop teacher ICT standards for:
- Pre-service teachers
- Practicing teachers
- School leaders
- Teacher educators
- VET teachers
- University teachers.
The SICTAS project team undertook two rapid response papers on issues arising during the course of the project. The reports provided some directions for the future.
Hot topic: ICT teaching and learning support services
This report uses a series of case studes to develop a dynamic and responsive ICT service model that attends to the day-to-day user demands and the ever-changing ICT environment, but at the same time, maintains standards and security.
The essential and interrelated components of this model are:
Hot topic: ICT in pre-service teacher training
- Sound governance: the ICT unit is represented in and accountable to the highest level of management in the organisation.
- User-centred culture: the ICT unit adopts a responsive service-oriented mode of operation, following ITIL standards.
- ICT staff competence: ICT staff are selected on the basis of their competency and capacity to embrace change.
- Robust infrastructure: the infrastructure is stable, secure, reliable and modular, to enable growth with ever-increasing levels of demand.
- Open and flexible adoption of software applications: Open Source technologies are critically evaluated and embraced where appropriate.
- Secure Internet access.
- Robust and responsive technical operations: central to this is an online and phone help service desk to manage help requests.
- Vigorous user digital literacy training and mentoring: a continuous, decentralised and highly targeted training regime.
- Robust communication.
- Sound performance measures: the performance of the ICT is reviewed regularly against an agreed set of standards and resources allocated accordingly.
This hot topic investigated the current experience of student teachers in applying ICT in pedagogy, any barriers to using technology at University, challenges in the practicum and ways to improve their experience of ICT in their pre-service.
The evidence presented in this paper strongly points to fundamental systemic flaws in the pre-service teacher education system in Australia in terms of developing teacher competence in embedding ICTs in pedagogy and practice.
The report proposed future directions related to
From: "strategic ICT advisory service 2009: key messages", Education.au, 2009
- a suite of virtual world schools as teaching and learning simulation environments
- individual on-line identities
- research and infrastructure
- accreditation and registration
- private sector engagement. ...