New Zealand is trying to improve its IT systems to help schools keep up to date on technology, with the Department of Education setting up a new department to focus on that.
The new office, called the IT Coordinating Group, will be headed by Chief Technology Officer Stephen Ritchie, who was appointed in February to help the Government and education sector prepare for the transition to a more cloud-based world.
Education Minister Tim Groser said the department was setting up the group with the aim of providing a “more focused, cohesive and flexible environment” for IT to work with schools, and ensure students had access to information and resources.
“In the last 10 years, the New Zealand Government has moved from a focus on traditional IT as a system for all schools, to a focus in particular on the digital economy,” he said.
“We want schools to be able to innovate in a way that allows them to have the most effective learning environments possible.”‘
Too early to tell’The department has been looking for ways to keep students connected and learning, with Mr Groser highlighting the fact that the Government’s online learning plan was set up by the previous Labour Government.
“Schools are learning, so they need to have a more cohesive, collaborative and flexible organisation that can support learning,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“This is something that we need to be looking at, so that they’re all getting a better learning environment, not only through technology, but through the whole school model.”
Mr Groser stressed the new group would not be involved in setting education standards, nor in providing guidance to schools on how to implement new technology.
“It will not be in the school curriculum or anything like that.
We don’t want to dictate what schools are going to be doing,” he added.
New Zealand schools have been hit by a spate of ransomware attacks, with schools reporting ransomware being spread to computers and teachers being forced to delete emails and social media accounts.
Schools have also been warned to be wary of online social media posts, and schools across the country are being asked to keep an eye out for cyber attacks in schools.
Teachers have also reported being targeted, with several teachers in Canterbury being targeted this week.
Newspaper NZ has contacted the Department for Education to ask if there will be an update on the IT coordination group in the future, or if it will be disbanded.