Consultation on information technology in education


The Government today (Friday) launched a consultation document on a proposed five-year strategy for applying information technology (IT) in teaching and learning. The Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong urged the education sector and all other interested parties, including the IT industry, to give suggestions and comments.

"Our vision is to harness the power of IT to help students get the most out of school education," said Mr Wong at today's press conference.

The consultation document is intended to bring the key issues relating to IT in education to the front, so that all parties concerned can collaborate effectively to charge ahead in synergy.

Through the use of IT in teaching and learning, students are expected to:

* have higher motivation to learn;

* have broader horizons and develop a creative mind through exposure to a wide range of knowledge and perspectives; and

* develop habits of independent lifelong learning and team spirit.

Mr Wong recognised that to realise the benefits of IT in education, there has to be a paradigm shift to more interactive and learner-centred school education. This requires a change in the culture and mind set among teachers, students and parents.

The Government made a start in IT in education last year with the introduction of a number of new initiatives which are now being implemented. These include:

* providing IT facilities for schools up to, on average, 40 computers for each primary school and 82 computers for each secondary school;

* providing 45,000 IT training places for teachers;

* introducing a Computer Awareness Programme and computer-assisted learning in primary schools

* introducing a Pilot Scheme for 10 primary and 10 secondary schools to establish best practices in applying IT in teaching and learning;

* providing a multi-media learning centre in about 100 secondary schools;

* setting up an Information Technology Education Resource Centre to provide professional support for teachers and technical support for schools; and

* setting up an Information Technology Learning Centre in each prevocational/secondary technical school, and a computer laboratory in each prevocational school.

Mr Wong said:"We will build upon the measures being implemented and focus our strategy in four areas in the next five years:

1. Teacher Enablement


Help teachers settle in their new role as a 'facilitator' and become comfortable and habitual IT users as soon as possible.

2. Curriculum and Software


Achieve the 25 per cent curriculum target through incorporating IT elements in the various syllabuses, and enhancing the provision of educational software.

3. Hardware Provision


Progressively enhance the provision of IT facilities for schools.

4. Network Implementation


Build up network infrastructure to facilitate sharing of information and communications among schools, teachers, students and parents."

Specific proposals in the consultation document include:

* provide more initial and refresher IT training and setting training targets for teachers;

* consider providing a one-off subsidy for teachers to purchase their own notebook computers;

* enhance professional support for teachers through the IT Education Resource Centre;

* consider the provision of IT Co-ordinators for schools;

review the syllabuses of various subjects to incorporate IT elements where appropriate;

* explore, promote and source appropriate educational software through the IT Education Resource Centre;

* encourage and assist teachers to develop innovative school-based teaching software;

* encourage development of local curriculum-specific software through incentives for publishers and software developers;

* progressively enhance IT facilities for schools in line with their readiness and work with them to overcome their physical constraints;

* strengthen technical support for schools;

* give schools more flexibility in the procurement and configuration of their IT facilities;

* consider upgrading or expanding the Local Area Network in schools;

* explore the feasibility of an education specific Intranet.

* consider providing individual e-mail accounts for teachers and students; and

* consider interface between the network infrastructure for schools and any community-wide plan for communications infrastructure.

On the basis of comments received through public consultation, Mr Wong said the Government would formulate an implementation plan including a timetable and targets to be achieved in the next five years.

"The strategy is not meant to be implemented from a top-down manner or to be adhered to without flexibility. We encourage schools to formulate their own plans to apply IT in teaching and learning, in the light of their specific needs and in the true spirit of school-based management," Mr Wong emphasised.

The consultation document is available at the District Education Offices of the Education Department, District Offices and on the homepage of the Education and Manpower Bureau( Comments by August 31, 1998 are welcome.

End/Friday, June 26, 1998