I was just thinking tonight about St Michael’s Grammar School in St Kilda. I remember back in my Ozemail days, around 1996 or 97. We – along with Microsoft and, I think, Cisco and Compaq – had set-up St Michael’s as a pilot school for all of our latest technology. The classrooms were all networked, there were laptops everywhere, it was all quite exciting. If you had told me then that fifteen years later, many schools would still be lacking a basic internet understanding, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Last week my kids attended interviews at the high school in Brisbane they will be attending next year. Their mother and I went along. The interviews went well – I was quite proud of my youngsters asking very grown up questions about the school and curriculum during the course of the interview – and as they drew to a close I asked the teacher whether or not the boys’ curriculum would be available on the school’s website.
“Ah no,” she replied.
“Well I like to be keep abreast of what they are working on,” I said. “How will I find out what the curriculum is?”
“You’ll have to email the teachers,” she replied.
“Each of them individually?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Are their email addresses up on the website?” I inquired.
“Ah no,” she replied.
“Well how do I get their email addresses?” I asked.
“Well they should hand them out to the kids on their first day,” she replied. “Otherwise, you can ask them when you have the first Parent-Teacher meetings a couple of months into the year.
The primary school my kids currently attend love to send paper notes home with the kids. Of course, these usually end up buried in school bags and we don’t find out about them until it’s way too late. Why aren’t they emailing us with information we need to know? I understand that not every parent has access to the internet, even in 2012, but surely the schools can take the same approach as most of the utility companies now and ask me if I want to receive notifications by email or paper? Wouldn’t that save schools significant dollars each year in printing costs?
Another example – my kids are on their Year 7 school trip to Sydney and Canberra this week. What system did the school put into place for notifying parents that the kids have arrived and are okay? Well it works like this. First, one of the teachers on the trip sends a text message to TWO parents. Then the rest of the parents are supposed to text THOSE parents asking for updates. I kid you not. Even the kids’ soccer team sends out weekly text blasts to all of the parents advising updates to this weekend’s game. It isn’t rocket science.
I haven’t had anything to do with school IT for many, many years, but I can’t believe it is 2012 and we still don’t have laptops (or, better still, iPads) in the hands of every school child; that every classroom isn’t connected by wifi; that a year’s worth of lesson plans aren’t posted on the school’s website for students and parents to peruse in advance; and that all schools aren’t using blogs, email, Twitter and text messages to update parents about stuff they need to know.
I just scanned through the ALP’s education policy document and it doesn’t seem to mention much about investing in internet infrastructure.
Am I being unreasonable?