An Overview of the Concepts of Policy and Education Policy

Published: 2019-11-20 08:30:00
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The word policy is not a firmly defined concept, rather it is highly flexible one, and can be used in a variety of ways and occasions. However, from the perspective of this paper, a policy is considered a statement to attain a certain goal or a set of goals by a local, regional, or national governments of a given country. Policies are usually documented in legislations or other official documents. In addition the policies come with institutional set up, which is the infrastructure required in implementing the policy, including enforcement agencies, incentive or penalty schemes, setting up the supporting infrastructure and equipment to achieve the goals intended for the specific policy. Blakemore (2003: 10), provides a succinct definition of what policies are and assert that they are. . . aims or goals, or statements of what ought to happen. In essence, this division between objectives and statements of what ought to happen as Blakemore points out, echoes a similar distinction that Harman (1984) identified and clarified that policies as statements of intent, and they are representative of programmes or plans of work. Essentially, Harman argues policy is:

. . . the implicit or explicit specification of courses of purposive action being followed, or to be followed in dealing with a recognized problem or matter of concern, and directed towards the accomplishment of some intended or desired set of goals. Policy can also be thought of as a position or stance developed in response to a problem or issue of conflict, and directed towards a particular objective. (Harman 1984: 13)

Education policy on the other hand refers to the principles and government policy-making process in the education sector, as well as the collection of laws and rules that are responsible for governing the operation of the education system. It is recognized that:

There was a time when educational policy as policy was taken for granted Clearly that is no longer the case. Today, educational policies are the focus of considerable controversy and public contestation Educational policy-making has become highly politicised. (Olssen et al. 2004: 23)

Additionally, it is important to note that education has a major role to play when it comes to achieving sustainable human development. For this reason, it is up to the individual national governments to ensure that they establish coherent policies in the education sector. For instance, education occurs in various forms and meant for different purposes in the many different institutions, such as early childhood education, as well as kindergarten through to 12th grade, two and four year universities and colleges, professional and graduate education, as well as job training and adult education. For this reason, education varies depending on the group, and therefore, it can be derived that education policy can directly affect the education individuals engage in at all ages. In last couple of decades, the education systems in the world have undergone tremendous changes as they continue to respond and interpret to the changing economic, political, and social contexts within the educational sector. For instance, according to Bell and Stevenson (2006), the emphasis of economic utilitarianism, which is often used as a rationale for educational policies increases in significance, and in turn, the issues of equity become subservient to the economic imperative. At the same time, educational policies have been affected by the developments, as the national governments have sought to realign the educational priorities. The advantage of educational policies is that they increase accountability, developed autonomy, and increased choice of opportunities (Bell & Stevenson, 2006). Whilst policies tend to promote accountability in various countries, accountability, as Bell and Stevenson (2006) assert, now occupies an important theme in global education agenda. Policies are developed, passed, and monitored by the government. However, as Bell and Stevenson (2006) propose, the formulation of these policies takes a linear model, as shown in the figure below:

A linear model for the development of policies. Source: Bell & Stevenson, (2006).

In this current paper, the education technology policy between the USA and the UK will be compared accordingly. In this case, education technology policy entails use of computers and computer science in teaching. Technology, which encompasses use of computers and digital technology in the classroom, and entails use of rigorous, knowledge-based discipline of computer science. In essence, the use of digital technology is paramount in the education sector, and this entails basic digital literacy, which is the capability of students to use the internet and computer confidently for learning purposes, as well as the application of digital technology in supporting learning in other disciplines. In many nations, however, there is a growing recognition that computer science is a subject discipline that is distinct from technology-focused skills of the application and use of computers. In addition, there is also an increasing recognition that it has enormous educational benefits, such as problem solving, as well as the comprehension of the current world hat is suffused with digital technology. Also, use of computers in learning is important as it has numerous economic benefits, which is indicated by the fact that companies are always struggling to recruit well-educated students that are tech savvy.

Origins of Educational Technology Policy

a. Origins of Educational Technology Policy in USA

The American Institute for Research conducted the earliest large-scale study on use of computers for educational purposes. From the study, it was concluded that 13% of the public schools in the US, mainly high schools, used computers for instructional purposes, but non-users outnumbered users in a ratio of 2 to 1. From the study, it was also derived that computers were popular among students and the applications that run on early computer models included physics simulators, administration tools, and statistic managers. However, in 1975, Apple, Inc. started donating Apple 1 model computers in various schools, and mainframes began losing their supremacy in academic research. In effect, computer use grew rapidly in the era, and by 1977, it was estimated that over 90% of student at Dartmouth College had already used computers at some point in their time studying. In addition, computer-aided instruction was widely accepted in schools in the early 1980s.

In the USA, education technology policy was adopted in 1983 when A Nation at Risk (1983) recommended computer science as one of the few basics that would be included in high school graduation requirements. The five new basics were English, science, social studies, computer science, and mathematics. Essentially with the introduction of computer science, the Commission on Educational excellence specified that all high-school graduates should understand computers as computation, information, and communication devices, and thereby facilitate students to use computers in the study of other basics, as well as for work-related and personal purpose. In addition, the inclusion of computer technology was also intended to make the students to understand the world of electronics, computers and related technologies. Since that year, American schools have had dramatic improvements in their technological capacity, which is mainly is driven by private and public investments in the educational sector over the past twenty years culminating 2003, which was estimated to be more than $40 billion dollars in technological infrastructure (Dickard, 2003). In addition, the K-12 educators also made similar strides in their readiness to include technology in the learning process with the sole aim of improving the accessibility and quality of the administrative data that informs their work, as well as fostering learning of core content and the development of skills for students. These skills develop the students as communicators, critical consumers, and researchers in an ever-expanding world of information.

In addition, the No Child Left Behind of 2001 (NCLB) was crucial in implementing technology in the American education sector. For instance it included a recommendation that by the time children reach their eighth grade, all need to be technologically literate, and repeatedly makes reference to technology as an important source of support in learning and teaching across the curriculum. In essence, the level of emphasis placed on educational technology I the legislation is reflective of the rowing consensus between the public and the educators about the importance of incorporating technology in education to improve literacy levels. In essence, this entails improving the ability of students to use computers for communication and management of information, and most importantly, using them as tools for supporting the learning process.

b. Origins of Educational Technology Policy in China

Generally, education technology in China has a long history. However, till the 1990s, the name and meaning of education technology has always kept changing. In essence, early in its development, it was referred to as electrifying technology, which was a terms that was commonly used from the 1930s to 1991. Electrifying technology focused on the specific technologies use in the educational sector, including slides, films, projectors, and radio, which were comprehended as advanced media. Hoewever, electrifying technology slowly was renamed educational technology as networks and computers became more developed in the 1990s (Liu, Lv, & Kang, 2010).

The first incorporation of educational technology in China was in 1922 when the School of Agriculture of Jinling University used audio-visual programs alongside use of slides and films with oral explanations I a phonograph were used in teaching students the scientific methodology of planting cotton. Later, audio-visual education was developed in 1949 in various schools at all levels. For instance, in the 1960s, television and radio universities were funded in Beijing, Shenyang, and Shanhai successfully. At the same time, leaders and the central government was placing emphasis on the importance of technology in the educational sector.

The country began developing educational technology in campus in 1977 when the Ministry of Education selected a sample of 1000 schools to experiment on the use of modern educational technology. The main agenda of the move was to take good advantage of modern technology in reforming the fundamental education. From the sample, it was evident that the overall qualities of the education in both primary and secondary schools were improved and satisfied.

Historical background of Educational Technology Policy

a. Historical background of Educational Technology Policy in USA

American schools have made a tremendous progress since A Nation at Risk, which has seen an improvement of the technological capacity and the readiness and ability to use technology in fostering the learning of core content, as well as the development of various skills, including being effective communicators, critical consumers, and researchers in the world of information. Significant plans that shaped the education policy in US started in the 1990s. For instance, in 1991, the USA launched the National Information Infrastructure (NII), which aimed at building a nationwide system that allowed Americans to take advantage of information technology.

By 1996, the US Department of Education had recognized that education technology was at the core of American growth in economy. In June 1996, the first National Education Technolog...


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