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Kiwi Govt needs to step up in education innovation

29 Aug 16

A new survey has revealed the governments on both sides of the Tasman aren’t pulling their weight when it comes to innovation in the education sector.

The Education in 2025 – Technology Innovation from Polycom has found that despite major investments in IT infrastructure, accessibility to education, especially in remote areas, remains a major concern within Australia and New Zealand.

Approximately 40% of educators surveyed believe parents and students are demanding more anytime, anywhere remote access to education, and 58% of respondents believe the Government is not keeping up with education innovation. 

These findings form part of the global ‘Education in 2025 – Technology Innovation’ survey, which aims to understand the future needs of the education sector. More than 1,800 people participated in the survey globally, including 700+ respondents from Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) – the majority being teachers and principals.  

The survey found that one of the largest inhibitors for the future of education is the curriculum not keeping pace with future workforce needs. However, when it came to potential solutions, there was a difference of opinion. 

With deregulation and revised compliance standards, more than one quarter (27%) of those surveyed believed improving the quality of teacher-learning should be the primary focus.  While 23% felt that the priority should be on personalised and contextual learning, opting for a more student centric approach. 

“In today’s digitally connected world, schools could not run their admin departments without technology,” says Carolyn Alexander-Bennett, E-Principal at FarNet and Chair of the NZ Virtual Learning Network Community (VLNC) Council.

“If you apply this same principle to the classroom, it would be reasonable to suggest that our student’s will not be adequately prepared for their future work lives without access to technology in the learning environment,” she explains.

The survey found that future education models will likely come from educators themselves rather than the Government or private sector. A majority of respondents also believed the education sector will be investing in Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) to improve education delivery in the future. 

According to the results, ANZ educators believed technology has an important role to play to support creativity, active learning and engagement as well as increased collaboration between schools and corporations.

“Technologies like video collaboration are breaking down the competitiveness of our schools, especially urban schools, creating a collaborative and supportive community,” Alexander-Bennett says.

“New Zealand is too small a country to not be sharing teaching resources and we are seeing a real shift in our education culture towards sharing. 

“There is also a ripple effect happening from our online classes into our face-to-face classes. Over time I believe this will pave the way for dropping the e- from e-learning,” she says.

“It will just be referred to as learning and become our future way of working.”

Additional ANZ Survey Findings:  

  • 62% responded that technology would enable greater collaboration between schools and corporations
  • 40% believed that parents and students alike are demanding more access to content and lectures online
  • 51% in ANZ felt that its (technology) potential in supporting meaningful learning was not being maximised
  • 17% felt that curriculum is not keeping pace with future workforce needs
  • 27% believed that improving the quality of teacher-learning should be the primary focus 
  • 23% felt that the priority should be on personalised and contextual learning

Looking to the Future: Education 2025

In looking to the future, a majority of respondents were convinced that the education sector will likely invest in VLEs and cloud-based software platforms to facilitate teaching and learning delivery.

Elaine Shuck, global director, Education Solutions and Market Development at Polycom, explains, “Investing in such virtual environments would support a wide range of tasks and workflows within educational environments providing clear advantages to students and teachers.

“These would include student assessments, collaboration tools, learning on-demand, links to dynamic content, and access to lesson plans and materials, opening up many more opportunities for educational delivery which may not have existed before,” she says.

By 2025, respondents see methods of student engagement shifting toward more real-time video collaboration and mobile devices, with laptops and in-classroom learning decreasing significantly.

“The widespread availability and advances in digital technology are rapidly changing the way we learn,” Shuck says.

“To keep pace with these changes, it is crucial that teachers cannot be left behind in being provided the skills they require in creating a future-ready learning environment.”

Shuck says that technology is neither a replacement for teaching methods nor for teachers.

“Instead, it is the gateway to personalising learning and providing a more collaborative approach to education for the future,” she adds.

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