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Investing Wisely in E-Learning - Steve Maharey

Hon. Steve Maharey
3 April 2003 Speech Notes

Investing Wisely in E-Learning:
The Role of Information & Communications Technology in Industry Training

Opening Address at the Investing Wisely E-Learning Workshop. Wellington Convention Centre.

I am pleased to see such a broad range of attendees, including such significant authorities on e-learning as:
- Your facilitator, Catherine Rennolds
- Professor Howard Frederick, a recognised authority in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship, economic development and new communications technologies
- Dr Tony Bates from Canada where he is well known for his work in distance education and technology
- Dr Gilly Salmon from Britain's Open University Business School specialist in on-line teaching and educational technology.

It is pleasing to see so many representatives from ITOs attending, as well as Westpac, Telstra Clear and Walker Wireless, and others from unions, employers, and education providers.

More and more, ITOs and business will need to make strategic choices about how you deliver work-based learning. E-learning is one of those strategic choices and has huge implications for the future of industry training and skill development in the workplace. E-learning, used well, can further strengthen the workplace as a formal learning environment. It opens the door to self paced learning which can be built in to the work place environment.

At the same time, we cannot afford to see information and communications technology as a panacea. It must supplement, rather than substitute for, face-to-face teaching and mentoring.

We are still learning how much e-learning can offer us as educators, and a bit of level-headedness is required.
The Labour-led government has taken up the challenge in our e-government strategy. We want our services to meet the needs of New Zealanders in the information age and which increasingly delivers information and services using online capabilities.

Accordingly, the e-government mission is “By 2004 the Internet will be the dominant means of enabling ready access to government information, services, and processes.”

In line with the government’s e-government and e-learning initiatives this has lead to the development of a Tertiary Education Web Portal to provide on-line access to information on tertiary education and tertiary education providers to ITOs, learners, other providers and the general public.

In response to the recommendations of the E-Learning Advisory Group and the Tertiary Education Strategy in Budget 2002 we allocated $9.8 million of funding over four years to build capability and to create a tertiary e-learning portal. I want today to announce that a further $28 million in capital will be provided over four years through an E-Learning Collaborative Development Fund to ensure that capability can be delivered.

The criteria are now being developed that will be used to determine how the E-Learning Collaborative Development Fund will be allocated and the kinds of projects it will fund. The TEC will administer the fund in consultation with the Ministry of Education.

The New Technology Fund established in 2001/2002, and extended into 2002/2003 provided $1million (from Industry Fund) to fund a range of projects designed to increase employees’ access to industry training through the use of new technologies, such as computer based training.

It is the outcomes of those projects that will be considered in this workshop.

Clearly there is growing expertise and commitment in e-learning among ITOs and their industries. The work of ITOs will sit within a coherent national e-learning strategy. An e-learning strategy is a shared vision of the kind of learning environment we want to create, a learning environment that reflects our unique identity and strengths and the changing needs and expectations of learners.

The Labour-led Government envisages an e-learning environment in New Zealand that:
- increases access to e-learning;
- maximises choice and flexibility;
- is world-class;
- celebrates New Zealand's uniqueness;
- is cost-effective;
- is innovative.

The E-learning Advisory Group set the foundation for our strategy in 2002. In 2003, we are completing our strategy and ensuring we have the resources to move forward.

E-learning is a global phenomenon and New Zealand must carve out its own niche in the e-learning market, mindful that it has many competitors. Over many years, New Zealand industries have shown a remarkable ability to compete and succeed in international markets. This is one more market, and will be one more success for New Zealand.

At the same time, we must be mindful of our own unique identity in developing a New Zealand e-learning environment. It's vital that our e-learning future empowers all cultures and communities. Our education reforms are about both national strategy and regional flexibility, and this is the challenge taken up by an e-learning strategy.

The Investing Wisely E-Learning Workshop has been designed to provide you with information and practical experiences that will allow you to assess the value and relevance of e-learning to your industry. The workshop intends to provide you the tools to build workplace e-learning into your strategic vision.

It provides an opportunity to share a number of ITOs and the Tertiary Education Commission's experience with the New Technology Fund. The development and implementation of the Fund raised strategic issues about e-learning, particularly in a workplace environment, that this workshop will give you the chance to explore.

The Fund was established to increase employees' access to industry training through the use of new technologies. The Fund supported this aim in two phases of projects.

In the first phase were projects led by the Plumbing, Seafood and Forestry ITOs.

The Plumbing ITO developed and implemented an e-learning package for the delivery of training in core skills in the construction industry. Packages have been developed in the core subject areas of Safe Working Practices, Tool Use, and Measure & Calculate, and are available both online and on CD-Rom.

The Seafood ITO developed an e-learning training programme for workplace tutors who will be trainees’ first line of support. Research was undertaken to identify e-learning best practice principles and methodologies, and a website developed to co-ordinate e-learning activities.

This phase also involved two “supporting projects” led by the Forestry ITO that aimed to produce the research and supporting technical infrastructure for the New Technology projects. A New Technology Fund website was developed ( and a research report was commissioned.

A key finding was that there was little existing knowledge about implementing e-learning in New Zealand, particularly in the workplace training context. This has a been a major impetus in the development of this Workshop.

In the second phase projects involving the Dairy, Aviation, Tourism Travel, Electricity Supply, Furniture, and Public Sector ITOs are underway.

E-learning will come of age in this country when students have access to an integrated, quality e-learning system, with the right connections and support no matter when or where they choose to learn.

The work ITOs have already undertaken with the New Technologies Fund is a start of facing the challenges in integrating workplace training and e-learning. This workshop is a continuation of those endeavours, and a chance to share experiences and ideas.

In the next phase the E-Learning Collaborative Development fund will continue to support the development of the e-learning capability of the tertiary education sector.


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