Providing student digital learning devices in schools – available for all students, is a challenge for NZ schools.
The knowledge economy is here. Digital thinking is now embedded into many NZ school teachers’ planning and classroom programmes. We all recognise that computing devices – portable, wearable or whatever, are part of the thinking of all students. As teachers we are adjusting to the fact that our students are learning very differently from how we learned in school.
A new subject is being introduced into the NZ school curriculum (2018) – digital technology and a new paradigm is becoming pervasive across all disciplines – digital fluency. NZQA external examinations are being introduced digitally from 2018 (although the question as to why we even need external examination in school remains unanswered…).
The expectation is that schools will provide the technologies to enable the above. If we believe that such devices are critical to be in the hands of learners both at school and home, then private ownership is required.
There is the challenge.
Whilst some school communities have simply asked their parents to provide the appropriate device for their local learning programmes, in other schools such a request will fall on deaf ears – for many reasons.
The Education Act (and its amendments) and the Public Sector Accounting protocols combine to require a school BOT to comply within a number of restraints. Recently, a number of practises seen in schools, have come under scrutiny including schools:
a. buying/leasing devices and charging parents to use them
b. charging for digital classroom use
c. leasing/borrowing beyond their operational grant % ceiling
d. charging for the delivery of their curriculum.
Two Clauses within the Education Act should be closely read in this regard.. Clause 3 and Clause 75.
The FISH handbook also provides good guidance in these matters.
Cyclone has just announced an initiative that seeks to partner with schools with a student device provision, pitched for communities (and schools) that have parents challenged with getting retail finance funding.
The partnership is well planned and structured to ensure that compliance, sustainability and appropriateness are all addressed. Some assumptions are required.. but at least an option is now available.
Articles available in:
NZ Gazette – 25 October 2016 (page 30)
Interface Magazine – October 2016