Mon, 18 Sep 95 16:35:00 S
Some more thoughts, hopefully of some use in keeping the debate going.
One of the starting points for what has become the EdNA initiative was the
perception first that education systems, institutions, staff members and
students were increasingly using electronic networking as an educational
resource and second that there was a lot of reinventing the wheel going on,
not to mention mutually incompatible approaches being pursued. This led to
the view that maybe there was some value in the key players talking to each
other (!) and seeing if there were areas in which there would be value in
acting cooperatively. What has resulted is a process which has attempted to
find areas in which cooperation will provide benefit without imposing
counterproductive centrally dictated solutions. Exactly what benefits will
be forthcoming will depend, in large measure, on what individual
It is certainly true that there are many service providers who can offer
connection to the Internet. However, are there particular types of value
added services which educational institutions need from a service provider
such as account management facilities which allow them to manage students
use of on-line resources and receive a single bill for all their use of
network resources? Is it better for each institution to negotiate all these
details or are there some common requirements which can be agreed upon?
Are there support services which the education sector particularly needs?
Can the education sector improve the range of services available by
defining a market need as a sector and pursuing the services it needs? The
key question is what things can be agreed on collectively to ensure users
can get on with the job of using the technology in creative and innovative
ways to improve Australian education.
It is certainly true that State Governments have contracts for computer
purchase which give them leverage in the marketplace. However, this does
not mean that there is no value in attempting to increase the market
leverage by attempting to cooperate across State borders and involving
players such as the Catholic and Independent school systems. One
consequence may be that the price which institutions pay is not linked to
the size and 'muscle' of the State where they are located. Instead all
Australian educational institutions may be able to benefit equally.
The issue of 'professional development' to ensure that teachers are equipped
to make the best use of the technology is crucially important. While not
formally part of the EdNA initiative it is being addressed by the relevant
areas of DEET in close consultation with the EdNA Taskforce. Any funding
initiatives associated with this would need to be considered in the context
of the 1996/97 Federal Budget.
Education Networking Taskforce