Amazing isn’t it! That over NZ$34 million is spent trying to get ICTs into teaching in New Zealand each year, and yet it is a struggle to find a school that can claim that ICTs is a significant feature in its practice. That’s a lot of money for not much pudding! And the detail of Artichoke’s post is even more concerning. To me it says at least 4 things.

  1. The managers of the funding don’t have a clue where or why its all going
  2. The teachers aren’t interested in ICTs
  3. There are a relatively small number of businesses and consultants out there eating it all up
  4. That the NZ communications infrastructure is in part causing money like this to be largely wasted.

The last idea is of interest to me, as I think it may be the most important. Broadband in this country is a right embarrassment. I recently upgraded my account to 512×186 (186 being the fastest upload available?) with a 5 gig limit. That costs me NZ$40 per month 😦 Before that I was on 256×186 with a 1 gig limit at NZ$30 per month. Their are cheaper plans, but I want life to be simpler.

Most teachers I know are actually still on dial up!! I haven’t met any who know anything about WiFi yet! Let alone considered how effective Broadband WiFi everywhere might be for reducing mobile phone bills.. but on the flip side to that, NZ mobile comms companies are marketing 3 and 4 G mobile networks!!?

I have met some who say that they can’t get broadband at home, and some who have looked into satellite broadband but decided it was too expensive. Admittedly I live in the South of NZ where it is almost accepted that there be a 5 year lag down here, but when it comes to ICTs and learning – I can’t see how that’s acceptable. In a country that can clearly afford to have broadband everywhere, no teacher or student home should be without it.

I don’t think any real progress can be made in getting teachers to appreciate ICTs in learning until unlimited broadband (and WiFi at that) can be made common to all teachers and students across the country. I don’t think the managers of the money will be able to see where and why the money goes until they get a bigger number of teachers using ICTs to look at. Admittedly for most, all it will mean is faster webmail, netbanking and trademe – but that’s a start. If those 3 things are faster than on the pain of dial up, then that could mean more time to discover other things like, “I wonder what that wikipedia thing they talk about at work is all about?”, or “what’s on Google video tonight that I might be able to use tomorrow?”, or “hey, I could probably talk to my aunt for free now with this Skype”…

NZ$34 million each year could go a long way towards getting unlimited broadband into a lot of houses. But would it fix the problem? Why is uptake of ICTs in education so expensive and yet so slow? Is it the shape of computers, is it key boards and screens, is it too much text? is this wisdom of the masses?

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