Friday, August 03, 2012

Teaching Discussion Paper Omits On-line Learning

Adrian Piccoli, NSW Minister for Education released a discussion paper "Asking the tough questions about teacher quality in NSW", 31 July 2012. While proposals for annual reviews and bonuses for high performing teachers tend to get the headlines, this paper discusses less controversial and more effective measures for initial teacher education and ongoing development. Unfortunately it fails to address the most important issue in education today: use of the Internet.
Contents of the Teaching Discussion Paper
As well as the paper itself, there are Frequently asked questions and a Media Release and an online discussion forum will commence 24 August 2012. The paper was prepared by Dr Michele Bruniges, Director-General of the Department of Education and Communities, Mr Tom Alegounarias, President of the NSW Board of Studies, and Mr Patrick Lee, the Chief Executive of the NSW Institute of Teachers.

Unfortunately this paper fails to address the digital education revolution now taking place in schools (and universities). The paper does not mention use of the Internet, web, computers, on-line eduction, or blended learning. These are now changing the way education is done, both for the teachers and the students. An obvious first step would be to put in place training in on-line techniques, using on-line techniques in initial teachers training. Then the same techniques can be used to improve professional practice. Last of all, with teachers trained in how to use computers effectively, these can be used for student learning.

The lack of understanding of modern communication methods is in part reflected by the decision of the NSW Minister for Education to delay discussion of the paper for almost a month after its release. Last century, when the distribution of the paper would have taken a month, this would have made sense. However, the paper was available instantaneously on-line and the only effect of this delay is to have the Minister and his department cut themselves off from the public discussion of the issues.

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