Cartoon PD online package ePortfolio - dead concept or holy grail in education?
Nov 25

Australian broadbandWhen Federal Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Minister, Helen Coonan, presented the 2006 Andrew Olle Media Lecture there was no mention of the need to equip the digital natives in Australian schools with the high speed broadband facilities available to other students elesewhere in Asia and western world. This month Rupert Murdoch labelled labelled broadband services in Australia a “disgrace”. Interestingly Senator Coonan pointed out:

Digital immigrants are, on the whole, outpaced by the hoards of digital natives who do not see technology as technology but as an appendage. It’s not technology to the teens – it’s routine, it’s run-of-the-mill, it’s life.

They don’t marvel about how their mobile or their computer has made their life easier or more convenient – they can barely remember a time when these essentials did not exist.

The Pew Internet Project in the US found that the average 21 year old has, in all probability, spent 5000 hours playing video games, exchanged around 250,000 e-mails, instant messages, and phone text messages, and has spent 10,000 hours on a mobile phone and 3500 hours online.

Waiting for educational content to download Australian students will be spending a lot more hours online than their American cohorts for a while yet. Apparently we are not complaining though. If you’d like to listen to the Federal Communications Minister trying to grapple with the speed at which the media landscape is changing, ABC Sydney has made this years 2006 Andrew Olle Lecture available as an mp3 here.

This is The Future

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One Response to “Australia’s slow broadband a disservice to Digital Natives?”

  1. Kim Flintoff Says:

    Of course the other aspect of all this is the use of restrictive firewalls and other barriers to the effective use of a wide range of educational resources founded on Web 2.0 technologies.

    Coonan parroting Prensky probably isn’t going to hurt the cause - we all understand that digital natives are avid users - but are not necessarily critical users - so it seems a better argument to highlight the role of schools and universities in equipping the students with the requisite skills and knowledge to not only consume, but consume critically, manage the technologies, control the technology (in terms of soft-, firm- and hard- ware). GRIP-FIX-TURN as well as RIP-MIX-BURN.

    Of course there are also the economic imperatives - why don’t we see K-12 sector advocating Richard Florida’s “Creative Class”?

    Especially here in Perth, we need to foster a Creative Economy - the reliance upon primary resources won’t sustain us much longer. We need to develop Perth, Bunbury, Kalgoorlie and Karratha as Creative Cities… with an active and productive Creative Class - but the potential for our students to develop as members of that group is limited by policy and access restrictions such as those we’ve outlined. The high-speed net is, so far, a pipe dream (no pun intended) in Australia. I’m struck that I find myself agreeing with Rupert Murdoch in this instance - something that doesn’t happen often!

    We need to start more effective lobbying - the reality is that in WA there is minimal use of ICT in teaching and learning programs.. a handful of well-informed and well-intentioned teachers are pushing the envelope but the vast majority still baulk even at email communication let alone true Web 2.0 engagement.

    It is an issue and it needs to be addressed or we’ll soon be watching our students slide down the international rankings…

    Go listen to the lecture in Second Life at my place in Maceday…

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