A public education program that stimulates and inspires learning is important to student success and to ensuring a successful society. There is a widely held view amongst schools that student access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the classroom is critical to achieving those outcomes. However, obtaining sufficient and equitable opportunities for students across a large and diverse public education system is easier said than done.
People have different opinions on the benefits to students of using ICT at school. My report does not offer a view in support of any opinion. Rather, it looks at how the Department of Education plans, manages, advises and supports public schools in their use of ICT.
For a number of years the Department of Education has been moving away from its traditional model of directing schools, to one of facilitating decision-making by schools themselves.
Consistent with that, schools now largely decide if, and how, they will use ICT. We found this decision to be as unique as each school. Some schools have decided to limit student use of ICT, whereas others have programs that see students bringing their own personal device to school for use in the classroom.
Devices are only one part of an effective ICT system but they are how most students interact and engage with ICT at school. More devices does not guarantee better outcomes. What is important is that they provide students with the right learning experience. Aging devices can negatively impact that experience. My report shows aging devices to be an emerging issue that needs addressing both by the Department and by schools.
It is clear that some schools are struggling to understand and keep up with changes in ICT. This presents an opportunity for the Department to rethink how it engages with those schools and how it can do more to help them.