In 2001, the Department of Education in Western Australia introduced their Education to Community (e2c) vision, aiming at delivering "a world-class education system, bringing Western Australian education communities together online". By promoting the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the classroom, the e2c program is designed to improve learning opportunities for students in government schools.
Data Analysis Australia was appointed as the sole provider of survey and statistical support services to e2c programs. This recognises the place that independent and objective evaluation has in the effective development and implementation of programs and services. Under this arrangement, Data Analysis Australia has been assisting the ICT section of the Department to evaluate, measure, analyse and interpret programs, trials and services. Having independent statisticians involved in the evaluation of programs has delivered unique benefits to the Department.
Integrating ICTS with Traditional Classroom Resources
The concept of computers in classrooms is not new, going back more than twenty years. However their effectiveness has often been limited by the actual difficulty of maintaining computers and peripherals in the classroom, and the costs in keeping them up-to-date. What is the best method of implementing computers in schools remains an open question.
This has led to the Department trying a new approach. The Application and Service Provider (ASP) Trial was established to test an approach based on tighter integration, more powerful networking and a client-server model. It also included modern peripherals such as scanners, data projectors and digital cameras. The trial maintained a curriculum perspective, where the technology is just one of the resources alongside more traditional ones, so that teachers and students can choose whichever method most improves learning opportunities.
Data Analysis Australia became involved in the very early stages of the evaluation of the ASP Trial and worked closely with the ASP Team to design a robust, justifiable and practical evaluation methodology framework to measure outcomes against the trial objectives. Teachers, students and staff at the trial schools have participated in surveys run by Data Analysis Australia and other activities managed by the Department to record their perceptions, development and capabilities. A critical component designed by Data Analysis Australia is a survey of schools outside of the trial to adjust or control for any general changes in education and ICTs affecting all schools.
Most of the trial was completed in December 2002 and currently Data Analysis Australia is engaged in further analysis to present an overall evaluation, drawing together the many components so far studied.