More than 100 of the top New Zealand IT education experts will be in attendance at this week’s Computing and Information Technology Research and Education New Zealand (CITRENZ), held in Queenstown.
The aim of the conference is to look at how educators can improve the quality, currency and relevance of IT education and the number of computer science graduates.
They will be discussing web technology usage of leading New Zealand websites, the problems with digital technologies in schools, using Wikipedia for learning, smartphone apps, cybercrime concerns for New Zealand businesses and social media issues in the retail clothing sector.
Organiser Associate Professor Alison Clear of Eastern Institute of Technology in Auckland says the conference is seeking to improve the desirability of young New Zealanders taking up modern digital world careers.
Clear says a lack of government funding for core programmes is the main concern among her CITRENZ colleagues.
“The government has funded new graduate schools in IT, in an unproven and costly model which may add a few graduates to the industry, however, within the ITP sector there are very successful graduate schools available already, producing technically savvy and work ready IT graduates albeit with ever decreasing financial support,” she explains.
“In our institutions we pride ourselves on small classes and therefore don’t have the luxury of large numbers with one lecturer, scale and we don’t want it either; students should have the opportunity to study in the way that suits them,” she says.
“Research is an important part of the job to support the teaching and learning of our students,” Clear adds. “ We also really need to keep up to date with the rapidly changing technology, the changes in industry and current pedagogy.
“The institutes of technology and polytechnics are not funded to support this, especially as we need the latest resources/equipment/computers as well as staff time to keep up to date,” she explains.
Clear says research shows that early intervention/information about computing careers is important. “The new digital technologies curriculum in schools will help tertiary educators prepare for the next generation of students, coming in with knowledge of the discipline,” she says.
“We are seeing excellent research coming out of New Zealand, the recognition of our degrees and they are on a par with anywhere else in the world,” Clear continues. “The new post graduate qualifications coming out of the professional information technology sector, the recognition of the value of our graduates by industry, they are work ready and hit the ground running.”
Clear says attendees will be discussing vital issues at the conference including new computing qualifications that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has recently listed.
“They are new programmes of study and these developments have been controversial, to fit within the new qualifications frameworks,” Associate Professor Clear says.
The Queenstown conference brings together academic staff from polytechnics and institutes of technology from across New Zealand to share ideas, investigate new technologies, look to the future of IT and ensure they are delivering the very best quality education for students.