More schools join IT Academy pilot

Issue: Volume 94, Number 2

Posted: 9 February 2015
Reference #: 1H9cqR

In 2013, 73,000 people were employed in the New Zealand ICT sector. This part of our economy has grown by 17 per cent since 2010 and now contributes over $1.7 billion annually. Currently there are about 3500 vacancies in the sector.

That’s the bigger picture with respect to the Microsoft IT Academy pilot. The pilot provides another pathway for schools to encourage students to develop - and be recognised for - skills in a world ever more dependent on technology. It can be included as a stand-alone programme or integrated cross-curricula. For students interested in technology career pathways there is the opportunity to begin learning the technical skills which could lead to work as developers; programmers; security specialists; software testers; or telecommunications network engineers.

In a nutshell the pilot is part of the Ministry of Education’s ongoing Microsoft School Software Agreement. This provides the licences necessary for schools to access this internationally recognised training and certification programme. A key focus of the pilot is students using the Microsoft IT Academy Programme learning resources to prepare for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification which includes the Microsoft Office suite of applications. For students who wish to do more, there is the Microsoft Technical Associate (developer; server administration; database administration and technical support). Teachers are encouraged to consider how they are teaching with technology and to become recognised as Microsoft Certified Educators. They can also be involved in the Microsoft Teaching with Technology programme.

At a workshop held in late 2014 pilot schools reported that they are very positive about the programme and are looking forward to continuing this year. They reported increased student engagement, students being recognised for prior skills and some students getting a sense of challenge and achievement not apparent in other settings. Some quotes from the workshop include:

“A lot of students have achieved their MOS masters and many staff are working towards it too.”

“Students are so engaged in the interactive software and it frees up some of my time.”
“One student wasn’t even doing IT as it wasn’t on her timetable, but she made arrangements to come to school early to practice and very quickly she passed all the assessments and became our first MOS master.”

The programme is supported technically and professionally. All new schools are visited to ensure technical issues are addressed prior to students logging on. The pilot is supported by Microsoft and ongoing teacher support is provided with in-school visits, a help desk and opportunities to network with other schools on the programme. Both Microsoft and IC Central Ltd, the provider engaged by the Ministry for the pilot, bring wide experience based on working with schools across Australia as well as here in New Zealand. They have a highly knowledgeable and approachable team.

An evaluation by the Ministry’s Research and Evaluation Unit is underway which will include some in-depth case studies. The final evaluation report is due in July 2015.

Schools not selected to be part of the pilot, can self-fund the programme at any time and will have access to all the resources and learnings from schools on the pilot programme.

The new ITA pilot schools are:

  • Burnside High School
  • Elim Christian College
  • Hastings Girls High School
  • James Cook High School
  • Lindisfarne College
  • Manurewa High School
  • Rotorua Lakes High School
  • Sacred Heart College – Lower Hutt
  • Taradale College
  • Whangarei Girls College.

Global app ecconomy

  • Worth $103 billion – half of NZ GDP
  • Small subset of total ICT industry
  • Growing at 27 per cent annually
  • 2.9 million mobile developers
  • Created more than 2 million apps
  • New Zealand’s gaming industry: $80.2 million in revenue – 2013

New Zealand’s ICT industry

  • Worth $23 billion in 2012
  • Grew 17 per cent from 2010
  • $1.6 billion from exports
  • 73,000 people employed in 2013
  • 3.2 per cent of the entire workforce
  • Contributes 5 per cent of the national GDP
  • Over 3500 vacancies

IT careers

  • Business analyst
  • Developer programmer
  • Film animator
  • Project manager
  • Security specialist
  • Software tester
  • Telecommunications network engineer
  • Database administrator
  • QA engineer

Sarbjit Kaur: Mana College

Mana College teacher Sarbjit Kaur talks about her experiences leading the IT Academy project in 2014.

“MITA is offered as a timetabled class at Year 12 and 13 levels. However, the computer room is also open during lunch times and mornings for anyone interested in pursuing the Microsoft courses. These are interactive online courses which students can pursue at their own pace. They can do their training in class or online from home. For the actual certification test they have to be in the school computer room and be supervised by the authorised proctor (I am the proctor at Mana) - I have to verify their identity and sign them in. The Microsoft Office Specialist exams are timed and students get instant results and feedback at the end of their test.

“In the first year, as we were sorting through the teething problems - mostly technical issues and exposing students to a new mode of learning through online interactive courses - I focused mainly on offering the Microsoft Office Specialist courses to replace the unit standards that students were previously doing: Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint, SharePoint and Outlook. This way the transition was manageable.

“Both Microsoft Word and Excel have 2 levels of training - specialist and expert. In addition to these, students need to do Powerpoint and either Access, SharePoint or Outlook to achieve master level qualifications. At expert and master level, they demonstrate that they have the deepest and most proficient level of MS Office skills. Students are able to transfer and apply advanced skills learned in these packages to other projects and subjects. Krystal Bishop, our first MOS Master used Powerpoint to create an mpeg4 movie and won the top prize in the Rheumatic Fever Technology Challenge organised by the Taeaomanino Trust last year. Not only did she animate her master slide design and insert videos captured in school, she also applied timed transition effects to SmartArt with voiceover recordings.

“Apart from learning how to use various software packages, students are learning to manage their time and behaviour using technology-assisted interactive learning.

“Our Microsoft IT Academy is now in expansion mode and a lot more Microsoft courses, including technical ones, will be offered to students.

“This is what we do: At first the students create their Microsoft account online. They select which course they want to start their training in. Once they have done their initial selection, I generate an access code for them to use. We use GMetrix software for training which takes students through a series of skills and performance questions. Students are given a couple of skills to do by following a set of ‘how to’ instructions. When done, they can push ‘next’ to get instant results; they can re-do the question if they get it wrong. At the end of the training, students are given a detailed diagnostic breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses - this gives the learners a very good idea of what they need to improve on before their re-sit.”

To find out more contact

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 5:54 pm, 9 February 2015

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