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A comparison of state spending on ICT

support to educational outcomes, or how


one state screwed the pooch for a whole
country
Recently the Australian government has been both testing the states educational
outcomes and implementing a national computer to student scheme.

I thought it would be interesting to compare the two, how does the ‘smartness’ of a
state compare to their “support” of ICT’s.

I’ve chosen education quality off the NAPLAN tests, a national test of Reading,
Writing , Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation and Nummary. It’s extremely broad,
I’m not sure how you’d do it better.

I’ve also chose only Metro areas, this is to reduce the problems of distance. It’s down
to can the system in place teach students, not, how hard is it to get teachers to the
students.

For computers I’ve chose support cost given by states requesting computers through
the federal government new scheme . We’ve seen after many failed implementations
through just computer access. It can at best4 have no affect and at worst actually
harms students3. The evidence is spending money just throwing computers at students
has a negative impact to the system, so I thought lets look at the support behind that.1 2
Grade 9 Grammar and PunctuationA
Grade 9 WritingA
Grade 9 SpellingA

It’s not rocket science to see that the more the states spend on ICT support the better
their students do.

Correlation is not necessarily cause, they weren’t testing “computers” but we at the
very least know that schools that do well also support well.

So it’s great at least some parts of Australia support computer and student, right.

Welcome to government bureaucracy .

Education Queensland perhaps feeling a bit impotent after these results of NAPLAN
felt the need to brag about their lack of ICT support.

Hence when the federal government asked for a report from each state they proudly
reported their underfunding.

Were else would you get reports from a failing state and embrace them?

“The lowest support cost is reported by Queensland where mature centralised support
structures have achieved a ratio of 1 support technician for every 450 computers with
a corresponding per device support cost of $580.2”

“Queensland’s model uses a mixture of school/cluster technical support in addition to


service centre support and senior technical support where necessary. This IT support
system results in a technician to device ratio of 1:450, which characterises an
advanced and well established structure as outlined by the Gartner model.2"
Yep 450 computers per technician. EQ ratio of computers to students is average 3 is
to one. So that’s 1300 users plus teaching staff. Users that actively hack the system.
(Student curiosity is a great attribute in a school unless you’re running the computer
network :) )You’re installing implementations to try and stop internal breaches and
then having to run multitudes of software packages from Autocading to video editing
on the same computer without Admin rights.

And totally irrelevant but I also loved this quote

“During consultations, Queensland and the Northern Territory expressed some


reservations about the utility of open source software in Australian learning
environments.2”
(Northern Territory having no Metro areas is not included in the above graphs, it also
did very very badly)

No doubt we are all currently in systems to some (I hope lesser) extent like this where
the system just doesn’t support you

I could digress into the collapse of a system at Education Queensland involving the
falsification of data by their centralised “service centre support” or the “a broken
computer on the ground is still worth two votes in the bush” but lets skip that5 -

I’ll go over several general themes

• The “system” doesn’t work, you have to implement outside of this. This goes from
running a yahoo group to talk to fellow teachers to having a blog to get you ideas out.

• Try and make what you do repeatable, helping 30 student in class is great, adding
50% work and putting it out there and helping out 10 other teachers help 300 student
rocks. Perhaps you mightn’t get recognition you deserve for it but just know you’re
not alone, it is the mantra of more people than you think.

• Implement systems . Even if you’re the lucky few with 200 computers and 800 users
you can’t handle it without them.

• Delegate, delegate, delegate. People often don’t want to ask for ICT support, it can
take ages for something they need immediately. So making it easy on them to solve
their own problems is great. Also a lot of people get a kick out being the “unofficial
IT guru” in the teachers lounge make sure you empower them as much as possible.

• Doing it on computer doesn’t make it better and it takes away money from other
things. Sounds preachy but it’s the whole point of the article. Students use computer
enough at home of friends they know ‘how to use it’. Save ICT for specific learning
that can’t be done elsewhere or can be done highly efficiently on a computer. Don’t
increase the demand of computer when it not needed, the TCO of computers is a lot.

• I have to repeat the first. If you’re in public education, you’re in government, you
are and you deal with government workers. People take the paycut because they love
to help children or because they would be fired anywhere else. Many (Not all)
managers by definition no longer directly help children hence are in the later category.
Try as hard as you can to implement around this.

1. Australian student results by state-


http://www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/v2-naplan_2008_geolocation_-
_all_students,25849.html

2. Computer submission by various states -


http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/DigitalEducationRevolution/Documents/Review
ofLegitimateandAdditionalFinancialImplicatio.pdf

3. Negative effects of a laptop program in Romania


http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23874570-7583,00.html
Publication -
http://econpapers.repec.org/paper/harwpaper/0812.htm

4. Laptop Program showing no improvement -


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/04/education/04laptop.html?_r=1 pagewanted=all
Publication -
http://www.gse.uci.edu/person/markw/laptops-jecr.pdf

5. And Yes I know I didn’t actually skip it.

A.