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17 August 2016

Schools’ technology under the microscope

Public schools are embracing technology to enhance students’ education – from creative use of devices for learning, to robotics, drones and 3-D printers, the Department of Education said today.

Auditor General Colin Murphy has today released a report, ICT in Education, which contains findings about information technology planning and support, and use of computers and other devices in public schools.

Deputy Director General, Finance and Administration Jennifer McGrath said the Department accepted the recommendations of the Auditor General and, in fact, was already well on the way to fully addressing many of them.

“The remaining recommendations will be taken up and we have certainly been informing our schools about the support that is available to them,” she said.

In 2015-16, $71 million was centrally invested in information technology for public schools, up 67% - from $48 million the previous financial year. Schools also make significant investment in information technology.

Public school technology – get the facts:

  • 209,793 desktop computers, laptops and tablets provided in WA public schools –vast majority (177,727) for student use
  • 38.39 per cent increase in devices for students since 2012
  • More than 570 primary schools funded to purchase new tablets, laptops, software and accessories – schools’ funds matched dollar-for-dollar by the State Government up to total $20 million
  • Increasing internet bandwidth to schools ($20.5 million), including:
  • $2.5 million Standard operating environment support
  • $8.8 million Bandwidth (WAN) optimisation
  • $7.4 million Wireless infill
  • $1.8 million Proxy replacement
  • Standard operating environment roll out for schools ($15.6 million).

The Department recently signed a contract to provide higher bandwidth at a lower cost to schools.

Ms McGrath said the Australian Government’s National Secondary Schools Computers Fund ended in 2013, and since that time public schools had been rolling out other ways for students to continue to access digital learning.

“All public schools receive annual funding for ICT as part of the student-centred funding model and principals determine how they spend it,” she said.

Not every school asks students to provide their own device, such as a tablet.

If they do choose to run a Bring Your Own Device program, principals can access guidelines and advice on how to run it effectively. The guidelines cover addressing parent input into the decision-making process, network security, equity, software licensing, insurance and technical support.

Public schools already have access to IT support from a central help desk, ICT division, and expertise from the Department’s E-schooling branch which provides advice on incorporating technology into the lessons in the classroom.

School staff can also use the online Schools Self-Service Tool which allows them to do very technical things in a simple way to manage their local IT without relying on central office to carry out the tasks.

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