Information Technology
in Teaching and Learning:

New Zealand Perspectives

 

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Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum

In 1995 a new technology curriculum was introduced in New Zealand. It strives "to develop technological literacy through three integrated learning strands to enable students to participate fully in the technological society and economy in which they will live and work. This curriculum seeks to enable and empower students with the know-how they will need to make informed choices about technology and to be the technological innovators of the future" (Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum, 1995, p. 5). This new curriculum becomes mandatory in 1999.

Technology Strands

The aim of technology education in New Zealand is to enable students to achieve technological literacy through the development of:

  • Strand A - Technological Knowledge and Understanding
    • understanding the use and operation of technologies;
    • understanding technological principles and systems;
    • understanding the nature of technological practice;
    • understanding strategies for the communication, promotion, and evaluation of technological ideas and outcomes.
  • Strand B - Technological Capability
    • identifying needs and opportunities;
    • with reference to identified needs and opportunities:
      • generating, selecting, developing, and adapting appropriate solutions;
      • managing time, and human and physical resources, to produce technological outcomes - products, systems, and environments;
      • presenting and promoting ideas, strategies, and outcomes;
      • evaluating designs, strategies, and outcomes.
  • Strand C - Technology and Society
    • understanding the ways the beliefs, values, and ethics of individuals and groups:
      • promote or constrain technological development;
      • influence attitudes towards technological development;
    • understanding the impact of technology on society and the environment:
      • in the past, present, and possible future;
      • in local, national, and international settings (Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum, 1995,p. 10).

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Technological Areas

The following areas are to be covered in the new curriculum:

  • Biotechnology
  • Electronics and Control technology
  • Food technology
  • Information and Communication technology
  • Materials technology
  • Production and Process technology
  • Structures and Mechanisms

Technology Contexts

Schools may wish to use various contexts as an organising principal for some or all of their programmes:

  • personal - clothing, personal health...
  • home - food preparation, furnishings...
  • school - drama productions, school canteen...
  • recreational - sports, playground planning...
  • community - waste management, town planning, transportation...
  • environmental - water management, tourist facilities...
  • energy - solar power, fossil fuels...
  • business - desktop publishing, marketing, ergonomics...
  • industrial - workplace safety, production line planning...

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Implementation of the Technology Learning Area

In implementing the technology learning area, schools have four possible options:

  • providing a time-tabled subject called technology, which is taught by teachers with particular knowledge and skills in technology;
  • developing a school approach which integrates units of study, or modules, of technology education in a systematic, coordinated way across the curriculum, again involving teachers from a range of disciplines;
  • a combination of these two options;
  • suspending the timetable for a fixed period to focus on technological activities across a year group or the whole school (Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum, 1995).

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Information Technology and Education Projects in New Zealand Schools

In recent years in New Zealand schools, a number of initiatives have occurred to trial, evaluate, and implement particular technologies in order to assist with meeting learning objectives in a variety of curricula.

Following are descriptions of ten of these technology initiatives (Harris, 1997):

The Schools Network

The Schools Network is a nationwide computer network which began in 1991 to allow teachers and students to communicate with each other, to obtain information, to participate in educational activities provided on the network, and to access the Internet. This computer link is facilitated by the Ministry of Education.

  • The first evaluation of the Schools Network indicated that teachers appreciated a computer network that was managed "by educators for educators." This evaluation also found that teachers went through three phases during the process of learning about the network and integrating it into their teaching.
    • Phase one: exploring the network - finding out what was offered and trying the keystrokes that make the network function.
    • Phase two: the discovery time - achieving confidence in using the features of the network and an understanding of how it can be integrated into classroom activities for learning purposes.
    • Phase three: promoting of the Schools Network to other potential users, either teachers or students - the user sees the benefits of the network and wants to share them, realising that a more widely-used network has more variety in participation and more vitality of use.
  • The second evaluation concluded that the highest use of the Schools network was for communication. 81% of responding teachers used the network for communicating with others on the Schools Network or the Internet by using email or the split-screen live chat facility. The closed nature of this system allows student use of the Internet in a safe and suitable context.
Success Maker

The Computer Curriculum Corporation's "Success Maker" maths and language computer-assisted learning packages were trialed and evaluated by several New Zealand schools.

  • An evaluation concluded that Success Maker did accelerate learning in some areas (especially maths), did well in reinforcing basic concepts of the subject, and prompted attitude improvement.
  • However this was a qualified recommendation as 15% of the teachers using Success Maker said that the programme had a limited or very limited role. This was particularly so when a teacher felt the content did not match the national curriculum.

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CASATech

The Canterbury Area Schools' Association Distance Education Project, known as CASATech, is a regional audiographics network.The project was designed especially to help senior students in rural areas in specialised subjects such as Physics, where a small number of students in the subject, or no specialist teacher on staff, might limit the availability of the course. Using this audiographic technology, the same competent teacher could teach virtual classes in 2, 3, or 4 schools.

  • An evaluation concluded that students needed to be independent learners to make the best use of this system because the once a week contact lesson was the only time the students in schools remote to the broadcast teacher could ask questions. This required the students to learn how to work from the written course material and, if a question arose, wait until the scheduled contact time, yet keep working on the subject.
  • Teachers needed to adapt their teaching approaches and improve their technology skills. Communication skills were also very important because the loss of the chance to see students meant a greater reliance on hearing them. Questioning skills were described as being vastly improved.
Learning with Information Technology

A two-year Learning Enhancement with Information Technology project at one secondary school examined the impact of the introduction of information technology on students' and teachers' attitudes towards computing and student learning. This project provided computers at a ratio of 1 computer to 3 students for all students studying 6th and 7th form accounting and economics and 7th form mathematics with statistics. The "Learning by Bytes: Computers in the Classroom" report was an evaluation of the project.

  • Teachers experienced a change in the dynamics of learning; a less formal classroom atmosphere developed with teachers becoming facilitators and students taking on a more co-operative and peer tutoring approach, in what became a more student-centred learning environment.
  • Teachers in this project found it difficult to obtain educationally orientated training in the use of computers in a market that generally has a business emphasis for IT training.
  • Teachers initial concerns about an extra workload associated with this style of teaching abated as they gained confidence with IT use, developed a more positive attitude towards computers, and utilised the computer for other applications in their classrooms.
  • Students' perceptions moved initially from thinking of computers as the focus of the class to the computers becoming tools that were part of general classroom practice. Use of IT within students' course work became associated with:
    • better work presentation,
    • improved information handling,
    • self-teaching skills growth,
    • more problem solving skills,
    • a variety of learning styles being addressed, and
    • a variety of presentation modes available.

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Technology Development Schools

Over a three-year period, beginning in 1993, the Technology Development Schools project was established in 4 secondary schools to fund an accelerated introduction of technology for the purposes of enhancing students access to information, developing skills in the technology area, and providing teacher professional development programmes.

Each school was granted $400,000 for project implementation. Three of the schools developed their libraries into information centres while the fourth school used laptop computers that were movable amongst classrooms for student use.

The programme achieved:

  • development of programmes that promoted curriculum experiences and skills in many technology areas such as biotechnology, materials technology, graphics and design technology, and information and communications technology
  • an increase in the opportunities for students to access information and use technology across the curriculum, and
  • an increase in technology and science programmes.

When implementing this project, the schools experienced some common issues:

  • A tendency to underestimate the time and money required to install the equipment;
  • Often emphasising the visible items, such as computers and printers, and neglecting budget for maintenance and replacement of equipment or installation and software.
  • Staff development becoming a critical and ongoing process, essential for assisting student progress.
  • The need for technical expertise and the value of having the consistency of one company installing the technology throughout the process.
  • A need in each school for a technician to maintain the equipment in working order with reliable service becoming more important as the computers were used more often and integrated deeper into the learning environment.
Interactive Television Project

The Correspondence School's Interactive Television Project brings introductory Maori, Spanish, Japanese, and Technology via live TV broadcasts, telephone and fax communication, and supporting print materials to students who may have been limited in their previous access to these subjects. These courses are for year 7 and 8 students and are also intended as professional development opportunities to help the teachers learn the topic.

During 1996 "live to air" weekly broadcasts were trialed for delivering beginning level language learning. The weekly broadcasts by experienced teachers were supported by print material containing teachers' lesson plans and student exercises. In the language courses, audio tapes and vocabulary lists were included, and in the technology course, construction exercises and instructions on how to participate in research were included.

Specific improvements were needed to enhance the value of interaction in future ITV courses:

  • Ensuring the interaction has clear goals and that a culture promoting interactivity is present.
  • Providing a variety of means for participants to interact, increasing the choice and opportunity for participation.
  • Allowing for different circumstances of those studying the course with regards to class timetables and the pace at which different students are learning the course material.

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Correspondence School CD-ROMs

The Correspondence School's CD-ROMs deliver Japanese language learning suitable for students learning at their own pace in geographically isolated areas. These CD-ROMs provide information through 20 half hour interactive, multi-media lessons. They are intended to introduce students to the language and culture of Japan. Included with the CD-ROMs are teacher guidelines, suggestions for use of the CD-ROM by teachers, examples of suggested student activities, and links to the Japanese curriculum in New Zealand.

The programme provides learning opportunities for individual learners or small groups, allowing individuals to follow their preferred way of learning, allowing for "catch up" when needed, and giving the learner pacing control.

AIM HI Strategic Planning

In 1996 through the AIM HI Strategic Planning project, the Ministry of Education invited Learning Enhancements Associates (LEA) to assist 8 secondary schools to plan and cost the purchasing and installing of information technology to boost student achievement and reverse the trend of falling rolls.

The initial workshop for participants focussed on the "Information Technology in your School - A Planning Template" developed by the Ministry of Education and the Government Information Technology Advisory Group.

  • Stage one involved auditing a school's current equipment, skills, and IT knowledge and developing the policy that would guide the implementation.
  • Stage two involved the establishment of time lines, budgets and implementation plans for curriculum development, teacher development, and equipment acquisition.

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The Telecom Education Foundation

In 1993 Telecom New Zealand established the Telecom Education Foundation (TEF), a corporate trust, to support a "vision to ensure that children are information literate and prepared for life and work in the tele-age" (Harris, 1997, p. 19). Since TEF was established, it has contributed more than NZ$35 million"'to helping schools come to grips with information and communications technology" (Harris, 1997, p. 19).

The assistance provided to schools has included:

  • Supporting teachers through Information Technology Workshops which give teachers hands-on experience with the technology.
  • Organising classroom activities using communication technology. (In 1996 15,000 students from 1,100 schools took part in "Sea Keepers for Schools". The students used E-mail, fax, and audio conferencing to contact experts around the world with an interest in maintaining the world's water resources.)
  • Creating the Telecom Technology Science Road show, an annual interactive exhibit travelling to over 60 venues in New Zealand to provide fun, practical interactive exhibits and demonstrations.
  • Providing the Telecom School Connection Programme, a fund raising programme designed to help schools purchase information technology and other equipment by donating the equivalent of 5% of a sponsors' national and international toll calls.
  • Installing Learning Lines, a separate telephone line installed free into the school with no line rental charges.
  • Creating curriculum-based resources including telephone based packages emphasising phone use, safety, and economic aspects of telecommunications.
The Tele-Learning Network

The Tele-Learning Network is a user-pay structure that allows the sharing of interactive, multimedia learning programmes amongst New Zealand and overseas schools.

The network has three key components:

  • A network of Tele-Learning Centres with audio, graphic, video, and teleconferencing equipment placed throughout the country in schools, tertiary institutions, and workplaces.
  • A telecommunications network allowing connection of all media in each centre.
  • A Network Administration Centre that provides a centralised reservation service, a register of courses, and manages the financial settlements among participants.

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Lessons Learned from the New Zealand IT Projects

Considering the variety of information technology projects implemented, the following recommendations have been made (Harris, 1997):

  • Expanded educational opportunities do result from well planned and implemented IT projects.
  • Any information and communication technology project that is contemplated for educational purposes must be carefully planned in terms of cost, time, installation and operation expertise needed, and how it complements the teaching programme in the classroom.
  • Expectations must be very clear to avoid raising hopes too high, resulting in misunderstandings and disappointment regarding the actual results. Clear, achievable objectives are needed.
  • Implementation of any new technology into a school is very likely to face difficulties involving installation schedules, hidden costs such as changes to rooms involved in the project, the required time for teachers and students to be able to use the technology for learning purposes, and the possibility of ongoing technical problems that a school may have little control over, including heavy traffic loads or weather interference in communications.
  • When computers and computer networks are involved, a series of phases occur: first, exploring what is available; then, discovering how to bring it into the classroom; and finally, promoting it to others.
  • New technologies may involve a new ways of bringing information or communicating into the classroom. Teacher professional development is essential to enable the technology to be used in the most trouble-free way possible.
  • Support for any new technology is essential in order to keep it functioning well. Breakdowns are frustrating, waste time, and disrupt learning; a reliable system is essential before IT can be fully integrated into learning. This may require additional resources for the necessary maintenance and expertise.

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IT staff development | IT in leadership | IT resources | Home

by Dianne Yee
dlyee@ucalgary.ca

a project for EDER 619.17
International Trends in Educational Leadership

The University of Calgary
August 1998

Last modified February 22, 2004