Literature review for the evaluation of the Digital Opportunities Projects Publications
This report describes ICT initiatives and evaluations of them since 1990, focusing on ways of lessening the 'digital divide', in particular by providing students of low socio-economic status and those in isolated areas with increased access to technology. Major initiatives conducted in the USA, Australia, the UK and Canada are described and links to key web sites are included. The report also has extensive annotated bibliographies. The report focuses on studies similar to those called the Digital Opportunities Projects which are part of the government's ICT strategy. Other ICT research documents can be found on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) publication home page.
Author(s): Sally Boyd, New Zealand Council for Educational Research.
Date Published: 2002
Introduction to the Literature Review
This literature review is focused on international and New Zealand evaluations of "technology-rich" information and communication technologies (ICT) initiatives in schools from 1990 onwards. This review is written for an audience of researchers, policy makers, and educators.
The projects reviewed here attempted to lessen the digital divide, that is, they provided students of low socio-economic status (and in some cases families and communities), and those in isolated areas, with increased access to technology. In particular, evaluations of ICT initiatives that included empirical evidence about the effects of the processes and outcomes of these initiatives are examined. The purpose of this review is to provide information about the evaluation of these ICT initiatives, and summarise the findings of these initiatives, to inform the evaluation of the four Digital Opportunities projects currently underway in a number of New Zealand schools. The review concerns evaluations of projects that are considered relevant, but not necessarily limited to, the ICT delivery methods that are being implemented as part of the four Digital Opportunities projects. A secondary aim of this review is to inform policy developments in the area of ICT use in schools. For this reason this review includes an overview of other international initiatives that are designed to introduce effective ICT strategies in low decile schools and the schools' communities.
The bulk of the review concerns projects located in upper primary and secondary schools, though information from elementary schools in the United States and primary schools in other countries has been included where relevant.
This review is in four sections; the first provides background on the literature review, the digital divide, and the Digital Opportunities projects in New Zealand; the second overviews briefly international initiatives similar to the Digital Opportunities projects; the third summarises information from evaluations and research of projects similar to the four Digital Opportunities projects; and the fourth presents conclusions.
An annotated bibliography is provided with this review. This bibliography provides a summary of each initiative and its associated evaluation including details of:
- the aims, goals, or desired outcomes of the initiative
- the scope, implementation, and timeframes of the initiative
- the funding of the initiative and the partnerships created
- the evaluation goals, design, and timeframe
- the main findings, success factors, or conclusions from the evaluation.
What this Review Does and Does Not Contain
The focus of this review is on projects that aim to increase students' access to the Internet and other ICT, rather than projects that focus on increasing teacher access and use of ICT through equipment provision or professional development. Therefore only evaluations or research which included a consideration of student outcomes were selected. Research studies or evaluations that examined only part of an innovation, rather than the whole innovation, such as quasi-experimental studies concerning the use of computer modelling in a science classroom, were also excluded as being too dissimilar from the four Digital Opportunities projects. This review is concerned with literature from 1990 onwards as there were few initiatives similar to the Digital Opportunities project prior to 1990 considering that the Internet only took its present graphically form in 1994.
This review focuses on the main school-based initiatives and projects developed to lessen the digital divide in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom (and some information on projects in Canada) and their associated evaluations. The majority of evaluations located for this review were situated in the United States and Australia and almost no projects were sourced from non-Western countries. For this reason a decision was made to focus on initiatives in the countries listed above.
The Four Digital Opportunities Projects in New Zealand
In an attempt to address some of the concerns mentioned above, the Ministry of Education has initiated four Digital Opportunities projects.
The general aim of these projects is to assist in bridging the digital divide for low decile schools, or schools for which access to adequate ICT infrastructure has previously been limited. The projects are developed from a partnership between schools, businesses, and Government. The general goals of the projects are to:
- Enhance the educational achievement of the students and community particularly in mathematics and science.
- Help overcome the barriers of access, ability, and attitude.
- Work in partnership with all stakeholders.
(Digital Opportunities contract, project 4, Ministry of Education, 2001a, p. 8).
The implementation of the four projects was started in 2001. Each project will run for the 2002 and 2003 school years. The four projects are:
1. Laptops for teachers and senior students in the Hutt Valley, Wellington (Notebook Valley)
Notebook Valley is a laptop school project in which students and teachers at three schools in the Hutt Valley and Wainuiomata are provided with personal laptops, training, and access to the Internet both at school and at home. This project aims to improve student achievement by providing access to tools and resources for learning, and increase retention in senior science and mathematics.
2. Learning communities in the far North (FarNet)
FarNet provides 10 schools in the Far North with access to: computers, software, and professional development as well as high quality broadband connections to the Internet. Through access to the Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI - an online bilingual education site for teachers and students) teachers and students are provided with bilingual learning resources and the opportunity to create resources using existing materials from Television New Zealand and Independent Newspapers Limited archives. The resources are designed to make mathematics and science more relevant to students, and therefore improve student retention in these subject areas. This project aims to develop local networked "learning communities" of teachers.
3. ICT technology training in West Auckland and Gisborne (GenXP)
GenXP is a vocational education project that provides students in five low decile secondary schools in West Auckland and Gisborne with access to computers, software, and professional development as well as high quality connections to the Internet. Students are provided with the opportunity to gain, as part of the NZQA framework, vendor technology qualifications from Microsoft and other providers (e.g., the Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS) qualification). Gaining these qualifications will hopefully assist students to gain entry to the workforce.
4. ICT-boosted study support centres in Southland and Canterbury (WickED)
WickED provides three study support centres, accessible to Year 5 to 8 students and the community, in Southland and Canterbury, with computers, software, and professional development, high quality connections to the Internet, and technical and student support. This project aims to enhance student learning outcomes through the use of ICT-based resources and develop local "learning communities".
Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data then please contact us at:
Email: Requests EDK
Phone: +64 4 463 8065