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Paper-based education processes bite the dust

by Poppy Johnston •
Free resource

Topics: Software; IT Services; Digital Transformation; SA; NSW.

In a bid to reduce the administrative burden of paper-based systems, and better reflect new student learning requirements, jurisdictions across the country are increasingly looking to digitise costly manual processes. 

The South Australian Government’s recently announced intention to transition South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) students to electronic exams and assessments confirms that digitalization is in progress.

$10.6 million over five years was invested in the 2016-17 budget to modernise the delivery of SACE.

The current systems involves the manual sorting and packaging of more than 12,000 bags of student work and 42,000 envelopes and papers.

SA expects that the new system will free teachers from administrative tasks to spend more time in the classroom, and “will enable the SACE Board to develop and assess a broader range of skills that students will need to succeed in work, further training or study,” according to the press release.

The system will also modernise the Northern Territory's Certificate of Education and Training (NTCET), as the NTCET and SACE are the same certificate. The first on screen exam will be in 2018, with a further seven subjects introduced by 2020.

The SACE modernisation is part of a $548 million investment in education to ensure students have suitable skill sets for the future job market.

“A modern SACE will embed innovation, entrepreneurial and IT skills into the curriculum to the benefit of our students aiming for the jobs of the future,” said Education Minister Susan Close.

The 2016-17 budget also put $250 million towards the build and upgrade of advanced of technology and science labs in public schools, and a further $250 million for a low interest loan program for non-government schools to modernise their facilities.

The New South Wales Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) has also recently announced an extensive overhaul of its Higher School Certificate (HSC), which was last reviewed 17 years ago.

Although the focus of the reform is on curriculums, examinations and minimum numeracy and literacy standards rather than IT modernisation, a number of upgrades and improvements to online teaching support are planned.

BOSTES’ online e-syllabus platform will allow teaches to interact with the existing secondary student syllabuses to ensure they remain relevant and current. The objective is to publish all syllabuses online and link them to other teaching resources and assessment tasks.

Like the SACE modernisation, HSC reform is largely driven by the demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills in the modern workforce. New extension courses will become available to improve NSW’s output of students with STEM skills.

NSW’s education cluster has already modernised a number of WofG education processes, and so far appears to be the only jurisdiction to deliver official electronic certificates to secondary students, with the majority of states and territories still relying on post. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority has recently approached the market for a system with similar capabilities.

Similarly, last year more than half of all HSC written exams were expected to be marked online in an effort to reduce costs.

6 per cent of ICT spending was distributed to education initiatives in NSW in the 2015-16 financial year, and 1.2 per cent in SA, according to Intermedium’s Budget IT database.

NSW’s 6 per cent topped ICT initiative spending in other jurisdictions, with Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia allocating less than 6 per cent of total ICT initiatives spend to the education sector. However, the total value of Education initiatives is typically fairly low, as these tend to be introduced through Commonwealth appropriation bills rather than through the budgeting process, which is captured in Budget IT. 

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