Software practices

21 Sep 2012
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Media reports regularly report about software security issues as well as concerns about privacy and online identity, writes Gerry White in DERN.

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Schools, training colleges and universities, which have finite budgets, have to keep up to date with these ever increasing technical issues in order to ensure the efficient running of their networks in an age of increasing connectedness. Industry reports abound with advice for businesses and consumers, so it is refreshing to read an industry report about the take up of digital technologies in education, in order to gain another perspective.

The SIIA report 2012 Results from the SIIA Vision K-20 Survey is the third annual survey to gather responses about their seven educational goals and five technology measures. What makes this report worth reading is that it compares the results of the three annual surveys. Further, it also gathers information from respondents about what is happening currently and what would be their ideal, indicating gaps in educational practice, some quite significant.

The SIIA educational goals (8408), one of the survey focusses, ‘represent the instructional and institutional outcomes enabled through technology and e-learning’ (p. 4). They are:

  1. Meet the personalized needs of all students
  2. Support accountability and inform instruction
  3. Deepen learning and motivate students
  4. Facilitate communication, connectivity, and collaboration
  5. Manage the education enterprise effectively and economically
  6. Enable students to learn from any place at any time
  7. Nurture creativity and self-expression’ (p. 4).

These goals are supported by five technology measures. The ‘Five Technology Measures may indicate progress for technology and e-learning implementation toward these educational goals:

  • Widely utilizes 21st Century Tools for teaching and learning
  • Provides anytime/anywhere educational access
  • Offers differentiated learning options and resources
  • Employs technology-based assessment tools
  • Uses technology to design and enable the enterprise support’ (p. 4).

Whilst these educational goals and technology measures may be debatable by some, they do provide a clear basis for the survey of nearly 1,700 educators across all states in the US, with two-thirds of respondents from schools and the remaining one-third from post-compulsory education. However, the results should be seen as descriptive only because the respondents self-selected to respond to the survey.

The major technical priorities for education that surface from the results are ‘security tools to protect student data and privacy’ (p. 7), ‘high-speed broadband access for robust communication’ (p. 7) and collaborative learning, and ‘an institutional website/portal [that] provides the education community with access to applications, resources and collaboration tools’ (p.7). However, of particular note is the large gap between practice and what teachers seek in gaining ‘access to online professional development resources, courses, and peer collaborative communities’ (p.8). Online assessment and differentiated learning were not widely implemented and the use of e-portfolios for students was strongly chosen by teachers.

The results from this industry report 2012 Results from the SIIA Vision K-20 Survey about the take up of digital technologies in education are consistent with similar surveys in education. The six-page Executive Summary (0) is a very worthwhile read for educators.

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Gerry White is Principal Research Fellow: Teaching & Learning using Digital Technologies, Australian Council for Educational Research

This article was first published on the Digital Education Research Network (DERN)

Read the full article on DERN

Image: Flickr /Martin Gommel

 

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