Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Off to Korea

I will be visiting South Korea in late November to look at ICT infrastructure in Korean Schools and to share with them some of what we do. My perception is that Korea is a rapidly evolving country that places considerable value on educating it's people. I also believe that this is one of the factors that is leading to its rapidly growing success as a nation.

I am excited because Korea, Japan and Finland are the three top countries in the OECD who run PISA tests. My assessment is that New Zealand and then Australia follows. I acknowledge that there are limitations to what one can determine from tests like this.

In 2005, the Korean Government announced that Open Source software will be rolled out into 10,000 schools. The software is based upon a Korean version of Linux (a free resource that does the same job as Windows and is said to be more secure). This also interests me and I am very excited to see how this project is evolving. I think they are being very smart about this because they are reducing their dependence on the outside world and encouraging a strong IT enterprise within the country. Not only do I see this as good for the country, but I also suspect that this means that there are local people with high levels of expertise there to assist the schools. The IT industry needs schools to provide appropriate education and the education industry needs the IT industry to support its growth.

There are always downsides to decisions and I want to explore these with the view of helping Grant High School optimise solutions for the benefit of the school’s students and community.

The Australian group will who will travel to Korea comprises
  • Dr Kathryn Moyle - Associate Professor, School of Education and Community Services - University of Canberra
  • Dianne Brook - Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College – Sydney (Catholic Schools)
  • Ian Ralf - Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School - Sydney (Independent Schools)
  • Peter Ruwoldt - Grant High School - Mount Gambier, S.A. (Public Schools)

We will visit a range of schools and teacher education facilities, meet with cyber teachers and share with them their experiences. The chance to spend a week with the Australian group, such movers and shakers in ICT, will be such an awesome learning experience.

This trip is made possible through funding obtained from the Australia Korea Foundation I would like to particularly acknowledge the work of Dr Kathryn Moyle who has been the driving force behind this sharing opportunity.

The project website is at http://akf.sceggs.nsw.edu.au/ A wiki and photo gallery have been set up for us to use - thanks to Ian for that.


  • At 6:25 pm, Anonymous Plakboek said…

    Great to see this happening! Keep us posted on news and findings. :-)

  • At 8:56 pm, Anonymous Graham Wegner said…

    Interestingly, you pointed out the ranking of Australia in comparison to Korea, Japan, Finland and NZ. In a talk by Terry Woolley (somewhere high up in DECS) I heard the other week, he touched on that ranking and said that Australia probably does better than Finland in real terms because of several factors - Finland is a monocultural country, has nearly half the alphabet we do so the language is easier to learn and they spend twice the % of GDP that Australia does. Would be interesting to see how Korea stacks up in those terms. Keep us posted, but I suspect that considering all of the barriers we have here down under, our teaching profession does a bloody good job.

  • At 5:48 pm, Blogger Bill Kerr said…

    Have a good trip!

    I heard Kathryn speak on open source issues at the Cairns, ACEC. She covered 4 indicators of suitability for open source:
    1) reliable and robust
    2) support for help and bug fixes
    3) third party support
    4) technical documentation

    It was very well done but I was disappointed that she avoided the systemic, political and cultural issues which I think really do have to come out in the open source discussion.

    Plakboek also gave a fascinating presentation of his battle to allow Khmer students to have their language represented and that open source provided the solution here. This had a different flavour to it, in which the ethical questions and emotional issues came out more:
    This presentation will consider the impact of the free, open souce software such as OpenOffice, CMap, Inkscape and Ubuntu in the classroom. After following the development of a $100 laptop for children in developing countries, it will build upon a personal story of work with Cambodian students at Westall Secondary College that have until recently, struggled to type in their native language. They have a vision of using computers in their own language, without clunky patches, hacks or backdoor fixes. It will explore what students can do with an increased access to free, open source software.

  • At 12:35 pm, Blogger Stephen Inglis said…

    Have been following develpments in North Korea with interest with you in mind Peter. Assume all is still going ahead.

    Like Bill, I too am interested in the cultural issues in relation to connected technologies/open source software. Not just in relation to access for students (e.g. Khmer) but also as a means of connecting students from different cultural/language groups across borders. Any thoughts on the intercultural opportunities or issues?


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