Australia is leading a global, digital, open education revolution

Australia is leading a global, digital, open education revolution
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Australia is ranked first among English-speaking counties and second in the world in leading a global, digital, open education revolution. Australia follows closely behind top-ranked South Korea –a nation with a bold policy goal of all textbooks and the entire school curriculum available in digital formats by 2015. In February 2012, the Australian government released a new version of their My School website. Users can now search nearly 10,000 Australian schools for statistical information and other details on a particular school, or to compare similar schools. The website provides a range of measures, including the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy, to help parents with school enrollment.

For years the Australian government has been creating a world-class digital infrastructure with opportunities for all Australians to benefit from a digital economy. It is working with the publishing, copyright, digital content, and creative industries with two key initiatives: the National Broadband Network and the Digital Education Revolution. The Australian government has invested over AUD $2.4 billion (US $2.56 billion) to support these initiatives.

The aim of the Digital Education Revolution is to prepare students to live and work in a digital world. In February 2012, Australian Minister for School Education Peter Garrett announced the country’s goal to provide a computer for every senior high school student. The program involves federal, state, and local government agencies teaming with educational institutions to support online learning and high-speed, fast-access broadband communication. Other initiatives include offering more than 12,000 free digital curriculum resources for use in all Australian schools.

Moodle is playing role in increasing Australia’s standing as a leader of global digital education. While proprietary and patent systems are still prevalent in Australia, the government has revised its policy and now allows Australian agencies to consider open source software as a viable option. As a result, Moodle is widely used in Australia. It was created and developed by Australian Martin Dougiamas, a distance learner located in remote Western Australia, for whom the nearest school was a thousand kilometers from home. Belmont City College in Perth, Western Australia offers a case study on how schools can implement Moodle in a short time and have a positive impact on the teachers, staff, and students.

The Australian Service for Knowledge of Open Source Software (ASK-OSS) is also helping increase Australia’s standing as a leader in global digital education. It provides a national focal point for advice, management, governance, storage, and dissemination of open source software (OSS). In 2004, Grant High School in Mount Gambier, South Australia took part in an ASK-OSS research trial using open source and observing its effects in secondary education. Cost savings was a major motivating factor for the research trial, but the philosophy underpinning the open source movement matched the teaching and learning fostered at the school. This philosophical match was another factor in the study and the school’s decision to move away from proprietary products. Grant High School has since become a case study showing how schools could embrace open source and achieve educational goals. Since the study, Grant High School students have been editing videos with Lightworks and creating traditional hand-drawn animations (cartoons) with Pencil.

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8 Comments

Sources?'s picture

So who ranks Australia second and North Korea first? No source is cited for the claim. I'm not disputing it -- but curious. Seems a key fact to support the story lead.

oldstevo's picture
Newbie

I think you'll find the article talks about SOUTH Korea.

Sources?'s picture

So it does; typo on my part. But that still doesn't change the fact the writer didn't identify the source for the claim that S. Korea and Australia are the top two.

Without that, it's an unsupported opinion of the writer. Who has been silent.

wivenhoe's picture
Open Source Champion

OECD did a study that showed S. Korea is tops for digital literacy with Australia and New Zealand came second. Yes, both are English-speaking countries, but Australia has invested more in terms of digital technology and education than New Zealand and it's seen as a model by other English-speaking countries.

Here's some links:

From the Australian Government:
http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/garrett/aussie-kids-forefront-digital-revo...

Australian Curriculum v3.0 and ICT Standards:
http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Information-a...

Australian Service - OER (which includes the studies):
http://www.ask-oss.mq.edu.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7...

From the Canadian Government:
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/corporate/media_kit/digital_litera...

Education Week on South Korea:
http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2011/10/19/01bits-skorea.h05.html

BBC article on South Korea:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15175962

OECD Study (with Korea at #1):
http://www.oecd.org/document/42/0,3746,en_21571361_44315115_48267882_1_1...

Carolyn

Frank Catalano's picture

Excellent. Thanks for identifying the source of the stat at the beginning of the piece. That's useful info.

wivenhoe's picture
Open Source Champion

I have a livebinder folder on some of the global initiatives on digital technology - some of which includes open source:
http://www.livebinders.com/edit/index/313101

Carolyn

Jallaledin Sharifi's picture

Dear Sir/Madam

please help me for open education in Australia

I look forward for your reply.

Sincerely yours
Jalaleddin Sharifi

mikess 's picture

It may well be true that Australian Government policy on Digital Education/Digital networks is in the forefront, but ultimately it is the execution of that policy at state and local levels that will determine its success. As a parent of four children and a member of a local high school P&C in Queensland I am not particularly sanguine. The primary challenges in providing pear leadership and encouragement to teachers to incorporate technology in their everyday teaching practices, ensuring that technology is integrated seamlessly in student's home and institutional environments and ensuring that teachers are sufficiently knowledgeable about the technologies they are using. Yes there are examples of individual school success stories (particularly in the are of children with learning difficulties). However, many schools are still at the stage of having done little more than propagate generic PowerPoint, excel and word skills.

The Queensland Department of Education purchased essentially closed systems and decreed that students should use the equipment provided by the Department for "at school" attendance. They ignored two key current trends in technology disbursement ie. "Bring your own" and "Virtual Machines" and do not appear to have consulted very effectively with their clientele (parents and students). While this may not have mattered in the past, the almost universal penetration of digital technology into the workforce and community gives cause for concern.

National statistics indicate that in 2008-9 "Of all households with children aged less than 15 years, 86% had home internet access" This figure probably underestimates current coverage because. Government programs initiated in 2009 provide 50% rebates for ISP charges and computer equipment for families receiving government family allowances. Thereby addressing the lower access to facilities identified by the Australian Bureau of Statisitics in families outside the top quartile of income earners. The actual distribution of government funded student computers occurred in late 2011/early 2012 and is restricted to high school students.

As a result, families often have home computers that are more powerful and with a wider range of software than that provided by the school. My son's school computer spends most of its time lying on his bedroom floor and rarely gets taken to school for use in the classroom.

As for the National Broadband Network, progress is slow (current estimation is 3.84 million connections by 2015) and in the meantime growing numbers of Australians are opting for wireless internet service connections.

I recollect conversations with South Korean colleagues in local government some five years ago, and my envy of their facilities and services. Something needed to be done in Australia and particularly in regard to rural services. The current government initiatives seek to address Australia's known deficiencies...the only question is whether they are the best strategies and only time will tell