11 Institutional arrangements for ICT and 21st century learning
Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy
This is the text of the report presented to the New Zealand Parliament in December 2012
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We heard from many submitters that there needed to be greater leadership from the Ministry of Education regarding digital literacy and 21st century learning environments. The Guardians of the Secondary Futures pointed out that their project, which ran from 2004 to 2009, described a 21st century learning environment very similar to themes that have emerged from the submissions to this inquiry, but no policy or legislation resulted from their work. Others commented on the disbanding of the digital learning group within the ministry, the lack of clear and consistent messages from the ministry on digital learning, and the challenge of ensuring that such learning gets the right priority, and does not become “just another programme that schools have to cope with”.
We heard about barriers to achieving 21st century learning; submitters argued consistently for shifting the whole education system (policy, legislation, leadership, and measurement) from a competitive to a collaborative model. While there may be no “hard” barriers to collaboration (as evidenced by the fact that some people are already collaborating), we heard from many submitters that the system settings do not actively encourage it.
Submitters argued that leadership is a major factor in how effectively schools embrace 21st century learning, and the schools that are already doing so successfully should be recognised nationally. Some submitters argued that we need a system that analyses better learning pathways, and promotes success stories, so that the pockets of excellence that we heard about throughout the inquiry are not considered out of the ordinary. We recognise that Parliament also has a role in promoting 21st century learning that extends beyond this inquiry.
Submitters told us that strong leadership is needed to develop and promote a vision for learning to all education-sector stakeholders. We heard that a change management program is needed to mobilise and align leaders to increase the pace of change across the sector. We heard that this programme needs to engage and communicate with stakeholders, prepare and equip schools, teachers, and communities, and integrate the rollout of technical components and the building of digital capability in schools. We believe that if this sector-wide change happens, we could see transformational change in the way that students learn and teachers teach.
Submitters expressed serious concerns about the ability of the Ministry of Education to provide the necessary leadership. Submitters expected the ministry to already be taking a much more visible and active leadership role in response to global technology changes in education, and to expectations from and action by the sector.
We understand that there will be a range of stakeholders affected by these recommendations, including parents, students, the wider community, and the education sector. We believe it will be important to actively engage with these stakeholders to ensure that we maximise learning opportunities in the future.
40. We recommend that the Government recognise that 21st century learning will require significant change across the education sector, involving a wide range of stakeholders; and that the Government recognise achieving such a change needs government- and sector-wide leadership to develop and promote a vision, and to lead an integrated series of work programmes to implement that vision.
41. We recommend that the Government consider reviewing the best institutional arrangements for providing the leadership to deliver both digital capability and 21st century learning environments. This review should include options such as, but not limited to, strengthening the Ministry of Education, extending the responsibility of Network for Learning Ltd, or establishing a new Crown entity.