Teachers get $40m IT brains trust

The Federal Government has promised $40 million to boost information and communications technology training for teachers across the country.

The Federal Government has promised a $40 million package to boost information and communications technology training for teachers across the country.

Minister for Education and Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced the package today, which forms part of its $2.2 billion Digital Education Revolution.

The first part of the education strategy will be to develop a national ICT self-assessment tool, according to a statement from Gillard's office. The tool will be trialled by selected schools from February 2011. Data derived from the self-assessment tool will then be used to create a professional development program.

The education package for teachers will be backed up by a further $20 million ICT Innovation Fund, available between 2010 and 2012, to provide grants for projects that support teachers.

Any organisation, including universities, state and territory education departments, and private enterprises will be able to apply for funding from April this year.

Proposals will need to aim at improving the capability of pre-service teachers, enhance the capacity of in-service teachers and generally drive innovation.

The teachers' education package follows the deployment of hundreds of thousands of laptops by state and territory departments of education last year. In NSW, for example, over 200,000 Lenovo laptops, including a software bundle from Adobe and Microsoft, were distributed to the state's senior students.

In addition to the teacher training package announced today and the student laptop program, both the state and federal governments have funds earmarked for broadband access for schools. However, the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations' $100 million fund for the roll-out of high speed broadband has yet to be tapped, according to the department.

It is waiting on Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy's National Broadband Network implementation study and complementary report to be complete. The NBN implementation study is due to be handed to the government by the end of this month.

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