Informing managers about telecommunications technologies for education and training
Australian educational technologists face the challenge of convincing management to invest in telecommunications for some important aspects of education and training. Despite well-proven overseas models and ample evidence to indicate the cost and learning effectiveness (Hosie, 1987, 1988; Lundin, 1988) of using telecommunications, Australia has been slow to take advantage of possibilities the technology offers. Why is this so?
As Lange (1984) accurately ventures: fear, apathy, lack of encouragement and ignorance are the main reasons why implementation of telecommunications technology for the delivery and administration of education and training has lagged behind in Australia. Not surprisingly these disincentives have resulted in a lack of effective policy developments. Without well researched and marketed policy there is unlikely to be forward motion.
One obvious deficiency is the lack of information and understanding of telecommunications technologies throughout the general community, including amongst lecturers, teachers and trainers. What understanding people have is fragmented, disjointed and often confused with commercial brand names. High-end applications such as video conferencing are the most known and sought after by educators and trainers. However, once awareness is raised and sources of information provided, considerable interest may be shown in alternative technologies of a simpler and more affordable nature. Often, facilities are available for use but knowledge of their application to education and training is limited.
Educational and training administrators and policy developers in Australia could be fairly accused of all of Lange's sins in relation to developing the uses of telecommunications technology but they cannot all be overcome instantly. Also, decision-makers in education have been elevated to their management positions before these technologies became widely used. Hence management often lacks the essential base knowledge to make informed decisions.
This article arises from one of the activities of Western Australia's Telecommunications for Education and Training (TET) Task Force. One part of its work was to provide essential base-level information, in an accessible form, for education managers involved in making decisions about implementing telecommunications technology. This article is concerned with techniques for providing this kind of information.
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