13 Minority Views (cont)

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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

To maintain the integrity of the report, please do not edit this page

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Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand believes that we have a tremendous opportunity to build on existing innovative work by teachers and schools and move towards greater digital literacy and benefit from 21st century learning environments and education.

This report is a good starting point and contains many recommendations which if enacted would better position New Zealand’s education system for the 21st century and deliver enhanced educational outcomes. It is essential that the changes are consulted widely with stakeholders such as students, parents, boards of trustees, educational unions, and communities if they are to be supported and implemented successfully. In particular, there must be consultation with the sector if there are any structural changes affecting working hours and/or off-site responsibilities of teachers that arise from this report.

Leadership is required at the Government and Ministry of Education level but also a acknowledgment that innovation will not always be “top-down” and there is a need to encourage ideas to come from teachers and schools.

This report lacks strong recommendations to the Government to provide the leadership and implement actions needed at this point in time. In many cases the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand believes that the Government needs to go further than just “consider” numerous recommendations in this report, and would prefer actions to be implemented.

At the highest level, the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand heard from many submitters that what was needed was a fundamental change away from the current competitive model that sees schools in competition against one another and recommends a move to a more collaborative model. A collaborative school model could better share innovations and best practices amongst teachers and schools to the students’ benefit. The success of 21st century learning relies on an equitable education system and teachers who can facilitate a strategic use of the technology to enhance student learning. It is less about devices than effective relationships and good use of tools.

This report contains many recommendations and it is important that the Government acknowledge the financial implications required and appropriately fund the initiatives if we are to realise the benefits of 21st century learning. For example individual digital devices are desirable in some circumstances and if some New Zealand children are not to miss out, it is essential that financial support is available to ensure that they are affordable for families. Bulk purchase to reduce costs is a common sense step but the Government must enact policies to give a range of ownership or purchasing options.

Schooling and education cannot be taken in isolation from the community and more must be done to “bridge the digital divide” in general if some students are not to be left behind from 21st century learning. The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand would recommend that the Government develop a national digital divide strategy with practical initiatives such as ensuring that all public libraries ensure free Internet access. In many libraries this is already the case, supported by Government funds and this is consistent with the U.N. Special Rapporteur’s recent Internet access report. The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand also recommends greater funding to the Computer Clubhouses and Computers in Homes programmes currently providing computer and Internet access so that it can reach a greater number of households and communities.

Likewise the Government must ensure access for students with disabilities. Recommendation 26 only requests a consideration of these issues. However the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand member believes including disability-accessible materials and versions of materials is a must to ensure equality of access.

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand supports improving public access to ICT through supporting the establishment of community technology hubs in schools, tertiary institutions, public libraries, and other community centres. This will require appropriate investment in installing hardware and software, as well as providing ICT training.

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand member believes providing all educational materials produced in New Zealand schools under a Creative Commons license would harness and greatly spread innovation and best-practice teaching. We would recommend that the Government investigate this with the goal of achieving it.

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand supports the intent of this report towards greater utilisation of digital tools and a transformational change to 21st century learning in New Zealand.