When I arrived in Hong Kong a little over 4 years ago there was not a single 1:1 takehome laptop programme in existence in the city. By the end of this year, there will be a programme in every ESF secondary and a number of other International schools in town (around 10 in all). Given that, prior to my school going compulsory 1to1 in 2000, SMT had the good sense to send me out to many Melbourne schools to learn from the Masters such as Josie Hopkins at MLC Kew and David Nettlebeckat St Michael’s St Kilda and later Whitefriars, I am a little perplexed as to whom the schools in Hong Kong have turned to for the systems and procedures of running and managing such a large scale change to a school.
I would have thought that there was a great opportunity for the David Loaders of this world to speak to other heads about the trials and tribulations associated with such a fundamental change. I know that a big problem with the way that Hong Kong schools market themselves is that they are “answer mines” and not places where teachers are co-learners along with the kids. This latter description tends to go down like the proverbial “lead balloon” with the local Asian parents who support the model of teacher as all-wise, all-knowing master. In spite of this, there are just too many things that can turn pair-shaped when laptops flood into a school without careful planning and preparation.
Whilst I see that people like Bruce Dixon are running around leading groups in the US and Australia, I see educators here either looking to the big population centres of the UK or the US or not looking anywhere to find support. Amazing, seeing that firstly, both of these regions went to Melbourne to look at and learn from the first schools in the world to set up laptop programmes in the late 80s/early 90s. Secondly, a 10 hour flight from Sydney, which only has a 2 hour time difference from Hong Kong most of the year round, has to be better value for a school than fetching someone 14-16 hours away in a very different time zone. (Not to mention the fact that the Aussies and Kiwis are known to be not as demanding about First Class flying and accommodation as their northern hemisphere counterparts!)
Not to be outdone by there colleagues across the pond, the New Zealanders have also been very innovative with their education in terms of embracing the use of ICT as a tool to enhance learning. A quick look at the range of presentations during the last national conference Ulearn 08 should convince anyone of that.
It is not surprising then, that some of the most innovative and progressive schools in the regions have more than their fair share of Antipodeans represented in their senior management teams. Add to this the popularity of New Zealander, MarkTreadwell when I brought him out to Hong Kong for the 21st Century Learning @ Hong Kong conference last May.
All this just leaves me puzzled as to why there aren’t a lot of Aussies and Kiwis in this part of the world working with schools about how to ensure that these 1to1 programmes achieve what they set out to do. Could this be another example of Antipodeans hiding their lights under bushells?