Government thought-leaders from education departments across Asia Pacific reported the progress of their national programmes and announced upcoming initiatives at last week’s FutureGov Summit 2010 in Kota Kinabalu.
The New South Wales Digital Education Revolution aimed to provide each Senior High School student – aged 14 to 18 – with a laptop for anywhere anytime learning. The one-to-one laptop programme, with a budget of A$442 million, has rolled out 148,000 laptops since it started last year.
“To support these wireless enabled laptop, we have set up wireless infrastructure across all 535 schools. These 20,000 access points reach out to even the most remote schools,” said Dianne Marshall, Programme Director, Digital Education Revolution, New South Wales Department of Education and Training, Australia (pictured).
Technical support is critical to back up teachers who are learning to integrate ICT into teaching and learning, according to Marshall. “Each school is equipped with at least one Technology Officer who can assist teachers on site. Our research has shown that teachers get very frustrated whenever technology fails. Such bad experiences can discourage them from using IT in the classroom in future,” she added.
While Thailand is still some way from one-to-one computing, the Ministry of Education (MOE) is committed to establishing basic infrastructure in all schools. With the biggest budget among all ministries in Thailand, MOE has achieved an average ratio of 1 computer to 20 students across the country.
“Our greatest challenge is bringing rural schools up to speed,” said Keartisak Sensai, Senior Advisor, ICT for Education, MOE. “We have more than 10,000 schools in remote areas. Many of these schools are small with approximately 100 students and less than four teachers.”
This is a similar challenge in The Philippines, shared Paul Soriano, Vice Chairman of ICT, Technical Committee, Department of Education. “60 per cent of our 37,000 primary schools are in difficult to reach areas. Many of these have less than 300 students. We target to connect a third of these schools by 2011.”
Training these teachers and creating content in both English and Thai are priorities for the next 12 months, added Sensai. “The ministry is partnering universities to engage retired and practising teachers to create content. These teachers, who are experts in pedagogy, are well positioned for the job.”
Content is also a priority for New South Wales, responded Marshall. “We have a Professional Learning Blog which teachers can access materials and tools. ‘Tools4You’ and ‘Laptop Wrap’ provide educators with useful information and step-by-step how-tos on leveraging technology in the classroom.”
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