School Technology Costs

By Greg Whitby, 28 November 2018
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.

 

Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

There have been huge improvements in technology in a short period of time. Today, we can purchase a terabyte hard-drive for under $100. This would have been inconceivable twenty years ago. As technology improves, the costs decrease. And while that’s good news, for many families with school-aged children, technology costs can still be a significant part of the family budget, particularly when there are multiple children needing different devices for learning.

Technology, like electricity and water, is a commodity in today’s world. We live in an age where we are all dependent on technology for so many things including communication, business and learning. Unfortunately, rising prices do have an impact on household budgets for many families. It’s important for schools, sectors and governments to be mindful of keeping technology costs as low as possible to ensure equitable access to devices and software for learning. Every child deserves to have access to the tools they need to learn.

Digital literacy is a critical skill that all learners, regardless of where they live or the school they attend, must develop throughout schooling. The challenge for schools is technology options for families or appropriate support that allows all students to be able to access devices in and outside of school hours.

And while devices are essential, connectivity is central to everything, particularly for schools. One of the features of high performing nations like Singapore and Hong Kong is their internet connection speed. As Australian schools and learners use more sophisticated wireless devices, reliable connectivity, particularly in regional and remote areas, will be non-negotiable.

We’re told the 5G network will be a game-changer in terms of speed and having the capacity for all wireless devices to connect to the network. I hope so. Better connectivity will enhance the ways in which students learn within and beyond the school in a world where knowledge, resources and problem-solving initiatives are increasingly shared.

Just as electricity and water can be considered basic human rights, access to technology has become one also. The current debate over electricity prices in Australia reminds us of the need for sound policies and provisions that ensure no learner or school gets left behind in a hyper-connected digital world.

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta

 

Greg Whitby is the Executive Director of Schools - Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
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