«Hot topic: ICT teaching and learning support services strategic ICT advisory service Acknowledgements The main author of this report is Reece ...»
Hot topic: ICT teaching
and learning support
strategic ICT advisory service
The main author of this report is Reece Lamshed. Contributions
to the report were made y Alison McAllister and Carolyn
Education.au would like to acknowledge the following
organisations for their participation in the case studies: Black
Forest Primary School, Saint Ignatius’ College, NSW, Chisholm
Institute of TAFE, VIC and the Western Australia, Department of
Education and Training.
This report is part of the Strategic ICT Advisory Service, funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government.
Publishing details © 2009 Education.au Limited This work is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Australia Licence.
To view a copy of the licence visit:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/au/ Education.au limited 182 Fullarton Road Dulwich SA 5065 Australia p: +61 8 8334 3210 f: +61 8 8334 3211 e: firstname.lastname@example.org w: www.educationau.edu.au Table of contents 1 Executive Summary
2 ICT challenges
3 Models of ICT service
4 Organisational ICT processes
5 Appendix 1: Case Study – Black Forest Primary School, SA
6 Appendix 2: Case study – Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview, NSW
7 Appendix 3: Case study – Chisholm Institute of TAFE, Victoria
8 Appendix 4: Case study – Western Australian Department of Education and Training....... 46 SICTAS: ICT teaching and learning support services Education.au iv SICTAS: ICT teaching and learning support services Education.au v 1 Executive Summary The ICT unit in an organisation has a fundamental role to play, as every organsation is now absolutely reliant on ICT to operate and conduct its business. This is also true for the education and training, and how the ICT unit operates will largely determine how successfully ICT will be integrated into teaching and learning practice.
ICT changes constantly, as new products and systems are launched, computer devices become cheaper and more powerful, and access to the Internet becomes more ubiquitous. Recently, ICT has been has been transformed by three powerful phenomena: Open Source technologies, mobile computing and social networking/self-managing content repositories (grouped together under the banner, Web 2.0). These technologies have transformed the way in which people have engaged popularly with ICT. But so too has the ICT unit been put under enormous pressure to harness the inherent capacities of these new technologies for the organisation.
In dealing with this new ICT environment, the ICT unit has a fundamental challenge – how to manage creatively the tension between innovation on one side and stability and standards on the other.
Sometimes burdened by previous modes and cultures of operation, the ICT division can act defensively by resisting change by claiming that these innovations are faddish and undermining, and that they have a duty to provide security, stability, protection and a return on their previous investments.
The challenges in accommodating these transforming technologies are significant: coping with the amount of user help requests, handling the volume of demand on the network, dealing with the innovators who want to trial and experiment with ICT outside the organisation’s system, keeping up with the knowledge of new technologies and systems, keeping up with the speed of change with the national rollout of computers, dealing with frustrations that emerge when the network won’t cope, making sure that ICT decisions are effective and managing user expectations.
The four organisations that we have investigated have collectively provided a dynamic and responsive ICT service model that attends to the day-to-day user demands and the ever-changing ICT environment, but at the same time, maintains standards and security.
The essential and interrelated components of this model are:
1. Sound governance: the ICT unit is represented in and accountable to the highest level of management in the organisation.
2. User-centred culture: the ICT unit adopts a responsive service-oriented mode of operation, following ITIL standards.
3. ICT staff competence: ICT staff are selected on the basis of their competency and capacity to embrace change.
4. Robust infrastructure: the infrastructure is stable, secure, reliable and modular, to enable growth with ever-increasing levels of demand.
5. Open and flexible adoption of software applications: Open Source technologies are critically evaluated and embraced where appropriate.
6. Secure Internet access.
7. Robust and responsive technical operations: central to this is an online and phone help service desk to manage help requests.
SICTAS: ICT teaching and learning support services Education.au 6
8. Vigorous user digital literacy training and mentoring: a continuous, decentralised and highly targeted training regime.
9. Robust communication.
10. Sound performance measures: the performance of the ICT is reviewed regularly against an agreed set of standards and resources allocated accordingly.
SICTAS: ICT teaching and learning support services Education.au 7 2 ICT challenges The purpose of this study is to provide an insight into the challenges that confront the information and communication technology (ICT) staff or unit within an education institution, the ways in which they deal with these challenges and to propose a model of ICT service that will better engage teaching and learning with ICT.
The study was based on four case studies: a public primary school in South Australia, an independent secondary college in New South Wales, a technical and further education (TAFE) college in Victoria and an education department in Western Australia (see the Appendices for the case studies).
2.1 The changing ICT environment
In the past 40 years since the digital revolution began, we have witnessed phenomenal changes in the way organisations operate, and people live, work, learn and play. The impact of digital technology is ubiquitous, and as never before, our communications, knowledge transfer, productivity and social relationships are manifestly reliant on ICT systems, and most substantially, via the Internet.
Three relatively recent phenomena have transformed the way in which ICT has been utilised.
1. The Open Source movement, which describes a broad general type of software license that makes source code available to the general public with relaxed or non-existent copyright restrictions. This now includes software such as Firefox, Moodle, Thunderbird, Audacity, WordPress, Droople, Joomla; Operating Systems such as Linux, and programming languages such as PHP, Java, Perl. This non-proprietary code enables a community of programmers to work collectively to upgrade, transform and share the products, opening up both the pace and scale of innovation.
2. Wireless and mobile devices. Mobile computing and communication, with sophisticated devices such as the iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, etc., has massively transformed the way in which business is conducted and people interact with information and each other.
3. Social networking and self-managed content repositories (Web 2.0), conducted entirely using the Internet, represented by host of new communication tools such as blogs, wikis, FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, has captured the imagination of millions of people and transformed social relationships and the communications/media landscape.
What these transformations have in common is that they are personal, social (shared), light, agile and to some degree, dispensable.
This trend will most likely continue in the future, although the directions ICT will head are highly unpredictable. Indications are that cloud computing, led by Google and Apple, is the next transforming phase. Cloud computing services provide common business applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on local servers. Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the ‘cloud’ that supports them.
The actual and potential consequences of these changes are massively more ICT options to choose from; more responsive and engaging systems, and a shift in costs away from software purchase and licensing to network infrastructure, storage and hardware (and, even in these areas, costs are also decreasing).
SICTAS: ICT teaching and learning support services Education.au 8 There is opportunity for further investigation into the use and application of Open Source technologies in government agencies in overseas countries, such as Brazil, France, Germany, to ascertain its effectiveness in large organisational contexts.
2.2 Organisational context The rapid changes in technology and how it impacts on an organisation is shown in the table below.
The challenge for many organisations, including education and training providers, is in keeping up with these ongoing ICT transformations. Many are organisationally lagging behind the common personal experience of their workforce, clients and customers. This is understandable, as the organisation has often made huge investments over a number of years in highly centralised, stable, productivity transforming technologies and infrastructure, and wants to see a return on investment.
However, the challenge is how this more cumbersome technology can be sustained when the customer demand is for speed, mobility, flexibility, personalised service and innovation.
The organisation’s ability to adapt to the continuously transforming ICT environment depends on the scale of their ICT responsibility, the degree of control they have over their ICT direction, the level of integration in the organisation’s governance structure, the culture of the ICT unit, the skills and competencies of ICT staff, the relationship the ICT unit has with other sectors of the organisation, the levels of demand on the ICT service and the resources dedicated to ICT.
Teaching and learning is also caught up in this ICT transforming environment.
The new generation of Internet and digital technologies have the potential to transform learning as never before, and to engage students in collaborative learning that previous static technologies have just not been able to do. These new technologies are increasingly less expensive and accessible to more and more people outside the education and training environment. This includes such devices as digital cameras, video cameras, mobile phones, iPods, etc and computer and Internet access to social networking, blogs, wikis, VoIP, etc. This consumer experience is both the foundation to and the example of how effective these technologies are and will be in the teaching and learning environment.
ICT engagement in teaching and learning is highly dependent on the attitudes and ICT skills of the teaching workforce. With an aging workforce, this has been invariably described as 10% resistant and disengaged; 10% engaged and innovating and the rest somewhere in between. The challenge for education and training providers is that their students, in the main, are fast outpacing the teachers in ICT engagement and levels of digital skills.
The levels of ICT engagement in teaching and learning will depend on the school’s degree of autonomy, education level (primary, secondary, TAFE), its governance and culture, its level of ICT infrastructure and resourcing, the internal professional development (PD) and training regimes, ICT unit service model, help request services, change request processes and innovation leadership and mentoring.
2.4 Risk and innovation
When resources are scarce, risk is a real issue, particularly when costs of ICT infrastructure are high (purchase, licensing) and ongoing (replacement, upgrades, maintenance). The issue is that technology systems and software improve continuously, and today’s best is often tomorrow’s secondrate performer. Therefore, it’s not only an issue of what to purchase, but when to purchase.
Proprietary systems, either purchased or licensed, usually act as ‘walled gardens’ that only allow related software integration (eg Microsoft Solutions), which can restrict diversity and flexibility. On the other hand, these systems are acquired because they provide certainty, reliability and standardisation.
The rate of change, including the organisational demand for the speedy introduction of new technologies, is also a challenge for ICT units that are used to slower work tempos and longer planning cycles.
ICT units are therefore often risk averse, and tend to view innovation and experimentation as destabilising and faddish.
Risk aversion, in some circumstances, can engender secretive project implementation in order to lower timeline expectations, and consequently, organisational frustration as promises made, fail to eventuate. In order to protect the large investment decisions, there is a tendency for ICT units to act secretively, envelop decisions in impenetrable and complex technical language, and resist organisational change requests.
On the other hand, innovators test and experiment with the latest ICT tools and techniques in the organisational context, such as teaching and learning. This is where technology is given meaning and value, and when these innovative practices are proven, they become mainstream. The ICT unit is SICTAS: ICT teaching and learning support services Education.au 10 generally not wise in teaching practices, and therefore they are viewed as not the ones who should be solely determining what is used and how.
This ongoing tension between stability, standards and security on the one hand, and innovation and experimentation on the other, is central to the ITC dynamic. How this tension is resolved within the organisation, either creatively or negatively, will determine the levels of ICT engagement.
2.5 Security and duty of care