Thursday, 12 November 2009

20/20 ICT in Schools 2009

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New Report on ICT in Schools Released: Cost the biggest barrier to computer usage in schools

Schools have given a strong message to IT suppliers and government that they'd like more centralised procurement of computer equipment and services to help reduce costs. This was revealed in the 2009 ICT in Schools survey, released today by the 2020 Communications Trust.”

read more or download the full report here.

“In spite of equipment costs, the 2009 report found that New Zealand students have good access to ICTs in their schools. With one computer for every four primary students and one for every three secondary students, access is significantly better in New Zealand than in the UK.”

I think this idea of student access to ICTs measured by the ratio of numbers of computers in schools per student is fundamentally flawed. These statistics show that a student should be able to use a computer at least a third of the time at school? I don’t believe this gives a true measure of access at all and is too simplistic. Sure there may be lots of computers in a school  but are they readily available to students & when they do manage to get their hands on one what are they able to do with them? We should be asking our students questions to gain a true measure of access:

  • How often do you use a computer at school?
  • Can you independently access ICT equipment at school when you need to?
  • How do you gain access to a computer? (Where do you go, who do you ask?)
  • Do you know your user name & password?
  • Do you have a school email address?
  • What do you use ICT for at school?
  • Can you access sites you need on the internet?
  • Are the computers you use up to date?

Here are the answers to those questions from my Year 9 daughter (who by the way lives on the computer at home).

I can’t remember the last time i used a computer at school. I think it was for our Science Projects for research in August. I guess i could gain access to a computer if I needed to i would ask my teacher but i haven’t needed to. Yes i know my username & password. I don’t know if i have an email address i don’t think so. We wrote our essays for English on the computer. When we did computers i used a computer but thats obvious. In Maths at the beginning of the year we did a mini-project – research & publishing. In Wood we used the computers to find images for our work. Sometimes sites are blocked that we need to use but you can find other sites but it takes longer. Sometimes when i try and get onto a webpage it asks for plugins – not all the time though.

So its not just numbers of computers in a school that show the true access our students have to computers. It’s there ease of availability to our students – it shouldn’t have to be a mission to get your hands on one. It’s also about their need to use computers – why aren’t our kids needing to use a computer in school? 

I don’t think that students will have true access to ICTs unless they can use their own. With the costs of notebooks coming down that day may not be too far away. Who is of the generation that remembers when calculators came into general use at schools. How expensive they were yet some parents brought them for their kids & they took them to school. Before too long they became a standard item as they still are today.

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