Building Innovation: learning with technologies

Kathryn Moyles Building Innovation is another example of some provocative issue papers already emerging this year. The paper explores national and international policy priorities for building students’ innovation capabilities through information and communication technologies (ICT) in Australian schools. Importantly it helps contextualise key current initiatives such as the Digital and Building Education revolution and National Curriculum and the Australian Govs Innovation Agenda. Inevitably tensions will exist between some of these policies, as they attempt to introduce innovatory practice into a rigid system of assessment and uniform traditional knowledge transfer. How do teachers/educators make sense of the competing interests and try to juggle competing those expressed in the new policy frameworks? Moyle rightly points out that many of the cries for education reform are driven by economic determinism- and not so much for the inherent benefit of ‘innovative scholarship’. Market influences are key drivers in positioning ICT in education, and of course are not neutral. Moyle claims that Australia’s heavy reliance on proprietary software for example, is at odds with the rest of the world. While these are important themes, if we accept Moyle’s assertion that “the economic roles of schools have been elevated to levels of pre-eminence over all other purposes of education” it perhaps needs to be seen as a general community desire (maybe fueled by the GFC) and not just a political and commercial agenda. Certainly IT is not neutral and can influence how teachers and students frame their learning, but I would argue that the dominance of major proprietary software types such as Microsoft or Adobe not restrict learning opportunities- but rather given their variety and ubiquitous nature, ensure students engage with real industry standard tools. Open source applications while initially attractive in terms of cost, often have a long sting in the tail in terms of support, adaptability, and uncertainty of licensing terms of conditions. Our recent experience in developing social networking tools highlights the dilemma between going it alone and engineering a tool with all the bells and whistles demanded by teachers and students, to perhaps ‘compromising’ on the functionality, for a tool we can ensure is going to be supported by a larger community of interest into the future. Perhaps this is also a point of difference where its important not to generalise in terms of proprietary V opensource, but instead debate the technologies in terms of their use. For instance, social networking technologies may be better from opensource communities, but publishing tools and enterprise systems are best provided by the dominant proprietary vendors. The critical aspect to all this is that the exposure of ICT in the classroom needs to reflect the real world, and currently I think NSW DET is mindful of the virtues of both. Moyle’s position that open environments are more economically viable and pedagogically sound needs to be challenged.

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About thand

I'm a currently working at NSW Departrment of Education & Training, Connected Classrooms Program, Sydney.
This entry was posted in Communities, education, eLearning, Informal learning, Leadership, open content, Opensource, policy, schooling, Web2. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Building Innovation: learning with technologies

  1. Darcy Moore says:

    I will read the paper and comment later in the week. Thanks Tim!

  2. Kevin O'Gorman says:

    The problem for me in using propriety software in education is that too much emphasis is sometimes placed on learnng a particular version of the software at the expense of understanding the underlying principles. We only have to consider the reaction to Microsoft’s introduction of the Ribbon. If learners are exposed and expected to use and explore different tools for different purposes this may encourage flexibility and adaptability as the ICT landscape shifts. After all learners are coping with using different types of user interfaces in the social software and mobile technologies in a rapidly changing environment.

  3. Tim Hand says:

    Agree with the need for adaptability-Kevin. But if we take the NSW DETs Enterprise suite of Adobe and MS, there is already and overlap in a competing space. When there are limited resources to support applications and money for licensing- there needs to be a tilt towards what needs to be provided as core tools and what the rest of the field requires (niche apps). The changing landscape of open apps also is critical as the recent decision of Ning to charge for its se services shows.

  4. thand says:

    You’re right Ian- we are locked in currently for the release of the current tools. The Google Apps was certainly an alternate path here- interestng that the cost factor is first consideration (even in the US) for adoption, something that became a theme in any discussion rexcently with the visiting CIO of Miame Daide.

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