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Technology can increase access to higher education

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News Release ' Minister fo r

Education 6 Youth Affairs

TECHNOLOGY CAN INCREASE ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION The Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Senator Susan Ryan tonight delivered the Geelong Lecture at the Deakin University. The lecture entitled "Education, technology and

access" dealt with the potential for applying new technologies in education. "Answers to the crucial questions about the shape and availability of education in the future are very much dependent on how the education system respond now to technological change."

"The Commonwealth Government is very conscious of the fact that information technology presents us with new and complex questions, and has taken steps to see that the questions are well answered," Senator Ryan said. These steps include:

. the establishment of the Computer Education Program funded at over $6M for each of the next 3 years; . the publication of a wide ranging Schools Commission report on the educational implications of computers; . chairing and funding the Commonwealth/State Advisory

Committee on the educational use of communications technology; . participation in the Australian Education Council's Task Force on Education and Technology.

"These are important initiatives, but no-one would pretend, that they are more than a good start", she said. Senator Ryan outlined the potential that the new technologies have to extend to all students a quality of teaching and

learning which has hitherto been very restricted. She expressed optimism about the scope for boosting the achievement of students from poorer backgrounds and reducing their disadvantage through the new technologies. But she warned that we must also face the possibility that the

expansion of information technologies in education could compound inequalities, not reduce them. "Overseas experience suggests that it is the schools for the middle and upper classes which move quickly and effectively to use information technology," she said.

"The same may be true of sex inequalities, where the perceived association of computers with maths and sciences appeals to boys rather than girls, and may be 'scaring away' girls in larger numbers than boys", she said.

"On the more positive side, recent technological developments promise further achievement in 'distance education'." "Experience here and overseas suggests that 'distance education' is particularly suited to adults who may have missed out on educational opportunities when they were younger,"

Senator Ryan said. "It is also of immense benefit to students living in remote areas." Senator Ryan said that the Government has asked the Tertiary Education Commission to investigate means of utilising the new

technologies in order to increase enrolments and participation in tertiary education. Contact: Harriet Swift 727141, 18 October 1984