13 October 2013
13 October 2013,

While an improvement on its predecessor, the impact of education technology is missing from the draft Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) 2014-2019.  I believe education technologies will have a significant effect on education practice in New Zealand over the next five years and our national strategy needs to reflect this.

Disruptive change, driven by technology and failing economic models, is happening around the world. Development of digital learning resources and pedagogies such as seamless, authentic, experiential, and targeted learning, underpinned by new modes of delivery (mobile, MOOCs) and new forms of assessment and engagement are transforming teaching and learning.

Increased access to learning through mobile and web-based provision is a trend set to continue (UNESCO). The effect will be to support a seamless and authentic learning experience, which may be personalised to a learner’s needs.

Qualification achievement will become less useful as a measure of system success. Learner success, particularly in trades training and literacy and numeracy, may need to be defined in terms of productivity gains and benchmarked against learners’ brokered goals.

Unless the TES recognises education technology as an opportunity to empower our providers and learners, New Zealand will struggle to capitalise on the inevitable shift to a more mobile, personalised learning experience.

The barriers exist, not in the draft TES 2014-2019 document, but in policy founded by its predecessor, the 2010-2013 TES. Current practice sees part time study penalised and by association learner-friendly distance delivery such as mobile and web-based courses. Investment in new teaching technologies, increasing overseas, is difficult for providers to justify in New Zealand.

Gone from the draft TES are the contradictory statements of success as fulltime youth alongside success for Māori as Māori. While issues remain in the document, the most irritating being tranches of statistic-bending propaganda, it does focus on New Zealand’s education needs: Skills for Industry (with a nod to critical thinking and learner capability), Training for Youth, Maori and Pasifika Success, Adult Literacy, and Strong Universities.

By removing barriers to learning on the learners’ terms, capitalising on a reputation of being the best in the world in some fields (such as primary land-based industry) and by perceiving education technology as an opportunity rather than a threat, New Zealand could legitimately seek to be a leading exporter of education.