The evolution of policies framing ICT integration

A reading I did this week was titled ‘Framing ICT, teachers and learners in Australian school education ICT policy’ (Jordan, 2011), and it serves as a study of the evolution of ICT policies in Australia since the ICT was first included in the vision for Australian education, over 20 years ago.  It was a very interesting read and I observed a few things as I read that were quite provocative.  Below is the timeline essentially, of the policies developed:

  1. In 1989, the National Goals for Schooling, developed by State, Territory and Commonwealth Ministers of Education in Hobart, followed by
  2. The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for schooling in the 21st century came along in 1999, then
  3. In 2000, the Ministerial Council for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) endorsed the Learning in an Online World: The School Education Action Plan for the Information Economy.
  4. In 2005, MCEETYA reinvented it as Contemporary Learning – Learning in an Online World, as well as,
  5. Pedagogy Strategy – Learning in an Online World (MCEETYA, 2005).
  6. A political campaign drove the implementation then of the A Digital Education Revolution in 2007, endorsed by Rudd et al.
  7. MCEETYA followed up the DER with The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for young Australians in 2008.

Here is a little more detail on each:

  1. National Goals for Schooling (1989)
    1. “provision for students to develop ‘skills of information processing and computing'” (p. 417)
  2. The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for schooling in the 21st century (1999)
    1. “Goal 1.6: that upon leaving school, students should ‘be confident, creative and productive users of new technologies, particularly information and communication technologies, and understand the impact of those technologies on society'” (p. 418)
  3. Learning in an Online World: The School Education Action Plan for the Information Economy (2000)
    1. Supported the above goal from 1999
    2. Aligns ICT directly to the idea of an ‘innovative society’
    3. “Harnessing these technologies for learning is vital. Australia’s future as an equitable, imaginative and economically strong knowledge society depends upon it.” (p. 420)
    4. Specialist skills are needed that are appropriate for the information economy
    5. Students will be engaged in ICT-rich programs and students gain employment-related skills for the information economy
    6. ICT integration needs to be purposeful and involve intentional and explicit teaching of skills
    7. Teachers need to commit to the vision of ICT implementation in education
    8. Teachers need professional development
  4. Contemporary Learning – Learning in an Online World (2005)
    1. Statements and strategies formed the ‘Learning Online Suite’, a part of a broader action plan
    2. Aligns ICT directly alongside the 21st century
    3. ICT creates new possibilities and opportunities that are both local and global
    4. Bullet points are used to show certainty
    5. Engaging with ICT is second-nature to young people and they need interactivity in learning
    6. “Learners are dependent on teachers having ICT skills” (p. 427)
  5. Pedagogy Strategy – Learning in an Online World (2005)
    1.  ICT integration is foundational to the economic and social prosperity of Australia and will transform education and training
    2. “A framework to assist teachers to plan and implement ICT into pedagogical practice” (p. 423)
    3. ICT drives change
    4. ICT is an outcome of change
    5. ICT is most applicable to the efficiency activities of teachers
    6. Teachers have to ‘catch up’ with students
    7. Teachers are the one who “will determine the extent to which the possibilities offered by technology are realised in educational settings” (p. 428)
    8. ICT transforms pedagogy
  6. A Digital Education Revolution (2007)
    1. “We need to ensure that Australian schools are able to provide students with the tools they will need to live and work in a world shaped by technological change” (p. 419)
    2. “Aligns ICT with notions of a ‘world class education'” (p. 420)
    3. Limits the transformational nature of ICT to the classroom education and learning
    4. “Constructs a utopian representation of a future education enabled by ICT” (p. 422)
    5. Uses both words that imply certainty and ‘possibility’
    6. Prepares young people for the ‘jobs of tomorrow’
  7. The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for young Australians (2008)
    1. Claims ICT as a critical part of successful learning
    2. Aligns ICT directly alongside the 21st century
    3. “[…] learners are motivated to use ICT, suggests that teachers ‘should take advantage of this [students’] increased motivation [to use ICT] to achieve more equitable educational outcomes for all” (p. 427)
    4. ICT will enhance the outcomes of students

There are many commonalities throughout the policies, such as the emphasis on the notion that ICT will enhance learning and that there is a need for new skills to be developed.  The discussion in the article about the language used was interesting and how there was often the use of strong, certain language, juxtaposed with language that demonstrated some level of uncertainty, e.g. ‘possibilities’ and ‘potential’.  It seemed to progress from the earlier policies of considering the potential of ICT, to the DER, which claimed with an abundance of certainty that it’s policy would be revolutionary in preparing students for their entire future.  There was a varying level of focus placed on the future in each of these policies as well.

A lot of the policies seemed to take the position that students find the use of ICT second-nature and that there is no problem on their part, engaging with technology in their education.  However, much of the responsibility and need for change was placed on teachers and the education system as a whole in most of the policies.  Its not as clear cut as they would like to convey and it should be considered that if we assume students are tech-savvy, they could be left behind and be caught playing ‘catch up’ as much as they claim teachers to be doing.


 

REFERENCES

Jordan, K. (2011). Framing ICT, teachers and learners in Australian school education ICT policy. The Australian Educational Researcher, 38(4), 417-431.

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