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Broadening opportunities with 21st century skills

Trevor Mallard Speech: Broadening opportunities with 21st century skills

Opening speech to the Toshiba Expanding Horizons Conference, Wairakei Resort, Taupo

Thank you for inviting me here today.

It’s always a pleasure to be at a gathering like this, promoting the use of information and communication technology to broaden the horizons of young people.

ICT is at the heart of my vision to see all of our young people better equipped with the skills to take their place in the 21st century online world.

It is a vision of the entire education sector linked together, networking and sharing information to benefit teachers and learners alike.

There are a lot of exciting initiatives underway in the ICT area, not the least of which is the 11,600 laptops that teachers have been supplied with since the launch of the Laptops for Teachers programme in November last year.

Broadband is rapidly becoming an essential tool in the delivery of education services, particularly in schools and higher education establishments.

Major investment in broadband infrastructure is critical to improving educational outcomes and we’re doing that through Project PROBE, an important whole-of-government initiative with significant funding.

Through PROBE most schools will have access to high-speed internet connections by the end of this year and all schools will have that opportunity by the end of next year.

Broadband access will make it possible for schools to improve on many of the things they are already doing, and open up opportunities for developing new and different ways of operating. The opportunities are very real – and very exciting.

And there’s a lot more funding going toward improving ICT access and infrastructure. Over the next four years we’re investing in: Developing nationally agreed standards on the interoperability of systems, infrastructure and services to enable information sharing across the education sector; Improving sector security and access though single user log on and authentication of users; Improving schools’ network infrastructure to improve information flow throughout the sector. This will mean an audit of all schools’ networks and funding to bring them up to certain minimum standards; and, Providing a video conferencing bridge to enable quality video conferencing between up to 200 schools.

Hand-in-hand with the access and infrastructure investments, we are continuing to invest strongly in professional development and support for teachers.

In its first five years of operation, the ICT professional development cluster programme has involved teachers in 94 clusters, totalling just on 800 schools.

It is being expanded by a further 20 clusters, taking total funding to just under $10 million per annum. There will be 40 new clusters and up to 400 new schools involved in the programme next year.

The education portal Te Kete Ipurangi provides access to curriculum resources, information and services to support teachers and schools. I was delighted to learn that over the past month it’s been the number one hit website in the country.

Funding has been provided to upgrade TKI to the latest technology, to further enhance its usefulness for both teachers and students.

Protecting young people in the online environment is an important aspect of developing the use of ICT in schools.

Earlier this year a revised copy of the internet safety kit, the Netsafe Kit for Schools, was provided to all schools. The Internet Safety Group developed the kit, with government support, and they also maintain a website and are currently working on other resources for schools.

An initiative that fits well with your conference title of Expanding Horizons is the E-learning fellowships, targeted to develop and expand effective e-learning practice in schools.

I believe these fellowships will contribute significantly to national and international research by developing and sharing new approaches to learning through ICT.

Five fellowships will be awarded to primary teachers and five to secondary teachers. One fellowship will be targeted at a teacher working in a Te Reo Maori learning environment.

The fellowships will provide successful applicants with: release from their school for a calendar year; targeted research opportunities as agreed with the Ministry of Education; professional learning workshops and academic guidance from Ultralab South – in collaboration with other tertiary institutions; ongoing support from an online learning community; and, work station and ICT resources as required for their project.

In conclusion, I would like to wish you all a very inspiring and enriching time at this conference.

Your enthusiasm, your commitment and your inspiration will greatly enrich the learning experiences our young people are able to enjoy. Thank you all for playing your part in this very important process.

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