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Nations report back on education technology in schools

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) held its annual conference recently in New Orleans USA, themed ‘Mastering the Moment’. Various nations reported on the extent to which technology is being incorporated into their education systems.

A member of Uruguay’s National Board of Teacher Education reported back on Plan Ceibal, a national one-to-one laptop initiative, funded in part and rolled out to schoolchildren by the non-profit organisation One Laptop Per Child, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA. The programme is crucial, because 23% of Uruguayan children grow up in rural areas as yet largely devoid of cyber infrastructure.

Jerome Morrissey, President of Ireland’s National Centre for Technology in Education, said most of Ireland’s technology investments in schools are the result of public-private partnerships, as detailed in the blueprint document called ‘Investing Effectively in Information and Communications Technology in Schools: 2008-2013’. “Working and collaborating with Information and Communications Technology industry is the way forward,” reported Morrissey, adding that even in a slow economy, the demand for technology workers in Ireland has exceeded supply.

Guus Wijngaards, an academic at the country’s INHolland University for Professional Education, reported to CoSN delegates that education technology is being used widely in the Netherlands to organise and streamline education systems, and that government realises its importance. The state contributes funding, for example, to the LeerNetwerk Educatie platform that links together students, university academics, teachers at primary and secondary schools and school governing boards in a specialised social network.

Things may not be as rosy in Britain, however, learned CoSN delegates. The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, commonly known as Becta, was shut down in March 2011 – a result of drastic budget cuts made by the British coalition government. Doug Brown, Director of the Step-A International Education Technology Agency based in Essex, reported that although Becta’s closure had caused uncertainty, British schools had, however, made significant progress in recent years with regard to getting technology into schools and the hands of teachers and students.

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Category: e-Education, Winter 2011

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