2012 Biennial National Education Forum

  • Chair – Tony Mackay (Deputy Chair ACARA, Director AITSL)
  • Hosted by Telstra. Telstra have released a White Paper on education with another due soon.

Michael Stevenson (VP Global Education, Cisco Systems). The Big Picture

Raised issue of skills shortage and the likely consequences given social mobility

South Korea – heavy investment in education inc elearning and Cyber Home learning through Kkulmat.

Brazil – 7% of GDP in education ($30 billion over 10 years) with an online PD model.

Global Education Leaders Program (sponsored by Cisco) seen as a flagship.

Case study – Broadmeadows 17 schools were lowest performing in Vic in 2004, IdeasLab helped turn that around ( ecological, safer, smarter) largely through technology deployment.

Valerie Hannon (Director, Innovation Unit – videoconference from Chicago) The emerging learning ecosystem

Had technical issues initially (Telstra staff must have found that embarrassing but it does highlight the practical limitations of the vision in their White Paper, as experienced by students and teachers across the world every day).

Equity and Excellence are not mutually exclusive – education can be about making excellence available to all. Importance of lifelong learning (25% of current kids will live to be 100)and the capacity to re-learn.

Deployment of technology has already happened via consumer activity  and education has largely missed it (perhaps by trying to deploy it themselves?)

Need fundamental changes in :

PARTNERSHIP         eg Big Picture , 2 days of 5 in internships
PLACE                         School as Base Camp or Mothership

Daniel Pink – motivation based on desire to make/create/improve, achieve sense of mastery purpose and autonomy.

S curve NESTA 2007/Valerie Hannon

S curve NESTA 2007/Valerie Hannon

It’s not about EITHER improving old approaches OR innovating with new approaches, it’s BOTH

Presentations/ques from jurisdictions:

NSW – how to innovate without putting students at risk – Disciplined Innovation Zones (preferably spread across schools)

Vic – How do we take local innovation and translate into system level decisions?

(learning networks between schools, R&D centres, not every school should innovate, dispersed geographically and linked virtually).

Julie Grantham (Qld) Curriculum and Assessment

Equity and excellence depend on each other.

Curriculum To Classroom (C2C) model in Qld has consistent planning approach, and common standards support consistent assessment and reporting.

Ben Levin – school changes seem to be from broader social change.

Michael Fullan – no educational system has ever sucesssfully led by accountability.

John Hattie – minimal differences between schools compared to differences within.


  • ESSA Online – science education with reasonably clever uses of performance data.
  • Self-paced senior maths- AdrianFrancisCC on youtube
  • Patrick Griffin – C21st Skills

Keith Bartley Teacher Quality and Leadership

TeachFirst (UK) suggests academic performance is not the best selector of teachers.

Singapore – removed Philosophy and History of Education from teacher training – concentrate on practical aspects of teaching.

Chart of teacher hours per week and class size showed, for example,

Shanghai     12 hours/week,  Class size   40

Korea           15 hours/week,  Class size   35

HK                17                                               56

Teacher Learning Academy (UK) – largest PL undertaking in UK, 20,000 teachers. Key features – teachers had to expose work to peers and evaluate contribution to teaching and learning.


NT – use of paraprofessionals to support teaching staff – differentiated workforce) – has advantages but some concern that it results in teachers avoiding the same students.

Michele Bruniges (NSW Director-General) Learner and Learning Environment

ICT has been shown to  increase learner engagement and can support provision of a quality environment to all (eg linking schools by videoconference to expand curriculum)

Excel – world’s first online school for Gifted and Talented students…

Personalisation can be increased.

PL – ICT expands the possibilities.

What we might do

  • Challenge the idea of individual teachers in their rooms
  • Problem solving (at school level) based on effective use of data, collaboratively across schools.
  • Teachers as professional teams rather than independent operators.

Tas – Launching into Learning, measurable improvement in early years

Comment from Greg Whitby – personalise learning and de-privatise teacher practice.

Birdwood High (SA) – student-designed learning spaces

More info:

Slides are available from http://innovation.esa.edu.au/content/pdf/BNEF12_Presentations.pdf

Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23BNEforum12

(#BNEforum12 )


While much of the “best practice” has been evident for many years, it is encouraging to see that senior system officials and academics have been willing to share what’s been working. The examples involving indigenous students (which I didn’t take notes on) were particularly impressive.  Even if the heads of agency were reading a prepared script, they spoke convincingly and with a sense of leadership.


Edison’s Cradle – from neatorama



Reconsidering ICT in schools – what we should and shouldn’t provide

Rethinking school responsibilities

This post will become an extension of a paper I started to write in around October 2009 for ACEC2010. The paper was never completed as my employer generously funded me to attend ACEC, and some of the ideas in the paper were reasonably radical and in conflict with most conventional thinking in education jurisdictions. As this paper did not reflect the views of the organisation I represented at ACEC I did not feel it would be appropriate to present it, as it may have been misinterpreted as the views of my employer.

However since ACEC2010 the issues in the paper have become more important and have benn discussed in numerous professional communities. I have thus begun re-framing the paper in a way that aligns with the major issues facing ICT in education.

The paper represents my views, not those of my employer or the various organisations I represent.

Content will be added as it is edited.

Questions can be directed to me by email. You’ll find it if you look…

Student journals – some approaches (Claremont College 21 Apr 2009)

Online journal techniques for students to document their learning.


Students can take responsibility for documenting their own learning, and much of this can be documented in a digital form. Access at college and at home (and after leaving college) can extend the concept of learning beyond a classroom.

The approach of personal online journals could be useful.

Techniques for journalling


either “live” as in a weblog,  or saved from an application


  • use inbuilt Sound Recorder +microphone,
  • Audacity (free) + microphone
  • student mobile phone if it records audio
  • audio off video capture on many digital still cameras

photos and images

  • draw themselves (eg SumoPaint)
  • digital camera
  • stills from webcam
  • student phone images.


  • from cheap still camera
  • from webcam using MovieMaker (free)
  • From cheap video camera (eg Flip Video under $200)
  • from better-quality video camera (caution – big files are not good for web use!)

How to manage this:

Students and teacher each create a personal weblog (blog) on a service like www.edublogs.org

Depending on how much you want to manage it you can let them do this themselves or set them up yourself. (use the Gmail extended name trick if necessary eg claremont.english12C+bartsimpson@gmail.com)

Make a list of links to the student blogs on your own blog, this acts as an index.


Tags vs categories. – it’s not obvious what the difference is at first, but perhaps the simplest approach is to sit down in advance and decide on the way you want to categorise, and use these as categories. Tags are decided more on the fly. I’d suggest that a common set of categories could be used by all students in one class (eg the dimensions of assessment)


Online safety is a huge issue. Main thing is to ensure ALL students (and staff 😉 ) are aware that personal information should not be disclosed. This includes, obviously, the blog name and other identifying materials.

What will change the world?

Recently Edge World Question Centre asked a number of luminaries what they thought will change the world. This response from Haim Harari is rather insightful. More at www.edge.org

Physicist, former President, Weizmann Institute of Science; Author, A View from the Eye of the Storm


Sometimes you make predictions. Sometimes you have wishful thinking. It is a pleasure to indulge in both, by discussing one and the same development which will change the world.

Today’s world, its economy, industry, environment, agriculture, energy, health, food, military power, communications, you name it, are all driven by knowledge. The only way to fight poverty, hunger, diseases, natural catastrophes, terrorism, war, and all other evil, is the creation and dissemination of knowledge, i.e. research and education.

Of the six billion people on our planet, at least four billions are not participating in the knowledge revolution. Hundreds of millions are born to illiterate mothers, never drink clean water, have no medical care and never use a phone.

The “buzz words” of distant learning, individualized learning, and all other technology-driven changes in education, remain largely on paper, far from becoming a daily reality in the majority of the world’s schools. The hope that affluent areas will provide remote access good education to others has not materialized. The ideas of bringing all of science, art, music and culture to every corner of the world and the creation of schools designed differently, based on individual and group learning, team work, simulations and special aids to special needs—all of these technology enabled goals remain largely unfulfilled.

It is amazing that, after decades of predictions and projections, education, all around the world, has changed so little. Thirty years ago, pundits talked about the thoroughly computerized school. Many had fantasies regarding an entirely different structure of learning, remote from the standard traditional school-class-teacher complex, which has hardly changed in the last century.

It is even more remarkable that no one has made real significant money on applying the information revolution to education. With a captive consumer audience of all school children and teachers in the world, one would think that the money made by eBay, Amazon, Google and Facebook might be dwarfed by the profits of a very clever revolutionary idea regarding education. Yet, no education oriented company is found among the ranks of the web-billionaires.

How come the richest person on the globe is not someone who had a brilliant idea about using technology for bringing education to the billions of school children of the world? I do not know the complete answer to this question. A possible guess is that in other fields you can have “quickies” but not in education. The time scale of education is decades, not quarters. Another possible guess is that, in education, you must mix the energy and creativity of the young with the wisdom and experience of the older, while in other areas, the young can do it fast and without the baggage of the earlier generations.

I am not necessarily bemoaning the fact that no one got into the list of richest people in the world by reforming education. But I do regret that no “game-changing” event has taken place on this front, by exploiting what modern technology is offering.

Four million Singapore citizens have a larger absolute GDP than 130 million Pakistanis. This is not unrelated to all the miseries and problems of Pakistan, from poverty to terror to severe earthquake damage. The only way to change this, in the long run, is education. Nothing better can happen to the world, than better education to such a country. But, relying only on local efforts may take centuries. On the other hand, if Al Qaida can reach other continents from Pakistan by using the web, why can’t the world help educate 130 million Pakistanis using better methods?

So, my game-changing hope and prediction is that, finally, something significant will change on this front. The time is ripe. A few novel ideas, aided by technologies that did not exist until recently, and based on humanistic values, on compassion and on true desire to extend help to the uneducated majority of the earth population, can do the trick.

Am I naive, stupid or both? Why do I think that this miracle, predicted for 30 years by many, and impatiently waited for by more, will finally happen in the coming decades?

Here are my clues:

First, a technology-driven globalization is forcing us to see, to recognize and to fear the enormous knowledge gaps between different parts of the world and between segments of society within our countries. It is a major threat to everything that the world has achieved in the last 100 years, including democracy itself. Identifying the problem is an important part of the solution.

Second, the speed and price of data transmission, the advances in software systems, the feasibility of remote video interactions, the price reduction of computers, fancy screens and other gadgets, finally begin to lead to the realization that special tailor-made devices for schools and education are worth designing and producing. Until now, most school computers were business computers used at school and very few special tools were developed exclusively for education. This is beginning to change.

Third, for the first time, the generation that grew up with a computer at home is reaching the teacher ranks. The main obstacle of most education reforms has always been the training of the teachers. This should be much easier now. Just remember the first generation of Americans who grew up in a car-owning family. It makes a significant difference.

Fourth, the web-based social networks in which the children now participate pose a new challenge. The educational system must join them, because it cannot fight them. So the question is not any more: “Will there be a revolution in education?” But “Will the revolution be positive or deadly?” Too many revolutions in history have led to more pain and death than to progress. We must get this one right.

Fifth, a child who comes to school with a 3G phone, iPod or whatever, sending messages to his mother’s blackberry and knowing in real time what is happening in the class room of his brother or friend miles or continents away, cannot be taught anything in the same way that I was taught. Has anyone seen lately a slide rule? A logarithmic table? A volume of Pedia other than Wiki?

At this point I could produce long lists of specific ideas which one may try or of small steps which have already been taken, somewhere in the world. But that is a matter for long essays or for a book, not for a short comment. It is unlikely that one or three or ten such ideas will do the job. It will have to be an evolutionary process of many innovations, trial and error, self adjustment, avoiding repetition of past mistakes and, above all, patience. It will also have to include one or more big game-changing elements of the order of magnitude of the influence of Google.

This is a change that will create a livable world for the next generations, both in affluent societies and, especially, in the developing or not-even-yet-developing parts of the world. Its time has definitely come. It will happen and it will, indeed, change everything.

TASITE response to Digital Education Revolution and National Secondary Schools Computer Fund

Attached is a draft of a response from TASITE to the Digital Education Revolution proposal. Edits and suggestions should be sent ASAP to TASITE via the tas-it online community. TASITE response to DER/NSSCF

The presentation that was previously here turned out to have been corrupted. I will add it when I receive an uncorrupted version.

Pageflakes and del.icio.us (Rosny College, April 2008)

Pageflakes is a free web2.0 tool that “aggregates’ content from other places. It is sort of a personal dashboard for students and staff, which allows individuals to see the things they want to see via a web interface. Almost anything that has a “RSS” feed can be made to show in a PageFlakes box, as well as many many pre-defined flakes. It now has a “teacher” version which has nice educational “flakes”

Del.icio.us is a free web2.0-based tool to let you manage a collection of “Bookmark” or “Favourite” websites, in a way that generates social networks. It allows you to share them selectively, tag them with your own tags, identify people with similar interests, and of course they are available anywhere you can browse the web. As it is web2.0 it talks to other systems, with RSS feeds.

And here are the notes for the session at Rosny College. Pageflakes and del.icio.us in education (46KB, MS Word)

One Laptop Per Child – why it matters, even if OLPC itself never succeeds.

One Laptop Per Child ($100 Laptop) project (Nicholas Negroponte)

This afternoon the ABC broadcast a presentation (possibly a repeat) by Nicholas Negroponte about the progress on this initiative, originally aimed at putting a laptop in the hands of every child in less developed countries. This, you may note, began several years before the recent Rudd Digital Education Revolution.

The reports back from the field are quite stunning. It really puts a focus on the innovation potential of the Rudd DER funds, if they were to be used with a bit of vision rather than as simply a “let’s buy more computers” purchase program.

Negroponte talked of overcoming the fact that 50% of the world’s kids have no electricity at home or school, so the laptop needs to be low-power and have a mechanical way of charging it. He mentioned the challenge of getting screen manufacturers to produce a small, efficient screen when their main market is making huge screens for the wealthy to watch football on.

And the wireless mesh network technology, that works from computer to computer rather than relying on every computer having a connection to the internet. He mentioned that when kids take their laptops home and are more than the km or so range of the mesh, they can nail cheap solar-powered repeaters to trees on the way home so they can still mesage their friends and teachers. And Negroponte sees the home use of these computers as a massive part of the value of this project (seriously, who’d provide laptops that stay at school and only get used a few hours a day, and not at all over the holidays?). The parental use of the technology is a side benefit, one that seems to make sense if a country wanted to succeed in a knowedge-based economy. That country might well be Haiti, Libya, Pakistan, Nigeria or Peru. Hey, it could even be Australia…

The “Buy two, keep one and give the other to a developing country” sales model for OLPC produced the highest ever traffic on PayPal’s purchasing website.

“In Cambodia those kids took the (OLPC) laptops home, the little boys had their sisters make little bags for them, they slept beside the laptops, these were polished they were like a new bicycle, it was really kept in a very different way”

“in the United States … kids take (school-owned laptops) off a cart, they bring them to their desk, they use them for the class period in science simulation or something, put the laptops back on the cart, again no ill will but those laptops last about three months before they need repair because nobody owns them and it’s government property, or school property and it just doesn’t get treated the same way”

Several countries (Uraguay, Peru) have committed to buying around a quarter of a million of these laptops, and some cities (Birmingham Alabama, Buenos Aires) are similarly providing every child with one. 

OLPC have found that they had to develop new standards, for example they had to develop a new standard keyboard for Ethiopia as one of the languages simply did not have a standard keyboard layout – there had never been enough people speaking that language who could own a computer. till OLPC came along. Quote: “the first English word of every kid in that picture is ‘Google’, it’s literally their first word.”  Some of these countries have average personal income under $100 a year

China’s minister for education had an interesting response: “Professor Negroponte your laptop is very child-centric and our education system is very teacher-centric.”  The One Laptop per Child initiative is targeting the child as the learner, rather than the school as gatekeeper to learning. The idea that schools need to be responsible for providing and maintaining computers is seriously questioned.

The support model is rather interesting – they have trialed a model of a “laptop hospital” run by kids, and the physical design of the OLPC lappie is such that many parts can be replaced at very low cost, by relatively unskilled kids.

They are churning  out 110,000 of these laptops per month, compared with the world total laptop production of about 5 million per month.

Podcast and transcript at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2008/2192536.htm

Hopefully all involved with the Digital Education Revolution have looked closely at OLPC, at both its specific strategy but more importantly its philosophy of putting technology directly in the hands of kids. OLPC is giving kids in developing nations personal access to levels of technology that many so-called developed nations cannot manage. To roll out a more expensive and less pervasive model would be… well. would it be the action of a clever country?

Any educational ICT policymaker who is unaware of this initiative can hardly claim to be competent.