Recommendation 1 Sector-wide data
Recommendation 1. We recommend that the Government implement a system that collects, analyses, and disseminates better sector-wide data on digital literacy and 21st century skills to enable more evidence-based policy decisions.
Better information always has some value but acting now is more important. Many children and students are competent on iPads and tablets. They need some coaching to use, say, Google Docs as a collaborative toolset but this can be a small step on a journey already begun.
Today most people learn by peer learning – asking the person next to you! Children and students will learn from their peer groups and the motivation to belong to such a group and to do what they do is very powerful in engaging the learner.
As stated this is an area of rapid change so it is important to begin now rather than to wait for a report which may be out-of-date when it is received.
Digital Literacy is addressed by the KiwiSkills programme already in place.
Research is commendable and cannot be refused.
But there is already considerable knowledge of how InfoTech can be used in educational environments. I used a BBC computer which was designed for school use in the early eighties – 30 years later we have a considerable body of knowledge about what works and what does not. I helped form Computers in Schools groups in NZ in the mid-eighties.
Major institutions like MIT (in USA) and Stanford have made substantial decisions about how to move forward. 100s of school teachers in NZ have practical experience using computers to aid in learning.
All new ideas should be monitored and measured to evaluate their effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness. So research on new methods of learning should be focussed on measurement and Lessons Learned. But little research is needed before proceeding.
Research can be an excuse for not committing to proceed.
PhD research typically takes 4-5 years – this is not a time-frame acceptable to motivated parents and citizens. And the ICT profession moves too quickly for that.
It is critical that research is not simply a political delaying policy to avoid getting on with it.
Any research should be conducted in parallel with full implementation.