Thursday, August 20, 2009

Social inclusion by cooperative e-learning

Greetings from the Australian Collaborative Education Network forum on social inclusion and cooperative education at University of Sydney. I am speaking from my ICT point of view on how to do that with social networking and mobile accessible web design. I have some reinforcement with Doug O'Hara from the ACS Foundation in the audience.

One point which came out is that the Australian Minister for Social Inclusion is also the Deputy PM, Minister for Education and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. This should make it easier to apply social inclusion principles in the education and workplace.

One of the other panellists is an Indian ICT graduate who related his experience in first staying in an Australian country town. This was a mirror image to my experience in staying in an Indian village, he was worried by the spare population, whereas it was the crowd which unsettled me.

Australian institutions can learn from others. As an example P
rofessor Uma Kanjilal, Director of the School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU), visited some weeks ago and talked about the problems of scale in her institution.

Another issues which came up was defining graduate attributes. This is an area I am working up a research proposal for in the business end of computing (information studies). My solutions for this may not be popular with elite universities, as it would involve building on the work which professional bodies have done in defining what skills practitioners need and the work the vocation education sector has done in carefully describing their courses. This may involve some loss of autonomy by the universities. Anyone interested in being involved, please let me know.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Use of Computers in Education Needs to be Planned

Research by Clotfelter and others suggests that the introduction of home computers has a negative impact on student performance. Rather than seeing this as a reason for not providing computers, this indicates that computers and networking have to be integrated into the planned education. Just providing a computer will distract the student, rather than help them. I will discuss this on the panel on Making “social inclusion” a focus when creating opportunities for participation in cooperative education programs ACEN Forum, University of Sydney, 20 August 2009.

... the introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores. Further evidence suggests that providing universal access to home computers and high-speed internet access would broaden, rather than narrow, math and reading achievement gaps. ...


From: Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement, Charles T. Clotfelter, Helen F. Ladd and Jacob L. Vigdor, Duke University, July 29, 2008

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