Change – is it a clear choice between floundering or thriving?

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Change – do we descend into a ‘pit’ or do we open our arms to opportunity?

When something changes with little warning,  which in turn impacts on a state where elements appear to be flourishing, it’s almost natural to regard that change with a certain degree of disappointment and dismay.   A feeling of being slightly shell-shocked can remain with you for days or much longer.   You view the short-term future as something that you must endure and something which is bound to descend into negative territory before it improves or indeed even gets on a steady footing resembling what it was before.

Essential however, at times like these, is to remind oneself that,  hidden beneath the layers of disappointment there may be, as yet, some unrealised opportunities for growth, clarity, progress and further evolution.

You may start to see the need to define your key steps and direction as an opportunity rather than a hinderance and the chance to gain clarity with the existing team as a time for a meeting of minds which will strengthen the way forward rather than as a time where things threaten to fall into disarray.

And even if one does flounder, there’s nothing to say that this state isn’t beneficial.   Floundering as a metaphor paints a picture of splashing desperately or being unable to gain a foothold or perhaps a less extreme one like being slightly unsteady in the shallows.  And being slightly unsteady may simply mean that you aren’t taking things for granted and that questioning is part of your mindset.

I just came across this description whilst reading about ‘Pause 2018’ – Australia’s Premier Innovation Festival.

This years theme is: Journey = Destination

A great idea doesn’t just come from thin air. It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and even some failures along the way. We want a no-holds-bar-warts-and-all story that will inspire our attendees to pursue their own journeys, take risks and be the changemakers of tomorrow. The only mandatory request that we have is that your address be: ‘Content You Can’t Google’, so keep that in mind when you are preparing your submission.

Is it a clear choice?  Of course it is…….

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The organic nature of great teaching

So, with the Digital Technologies Curriculum – we have two choices.  We can take on board custom designed, packaged solutions and ‘deliver’ them or we can go to the effort of understanding the curriculum, collaborate with others, allow ourselves time to explore links with other learning areas and then design the learning experiences that suits our own learners.

I’ve seen beautiful evidence of the value of the latter lately.

As a school we’ve been looking at the Digital Technologies Curriculum for around 18 months but working effectively in both the ICT and DigiTech space for much longer.    We have had some formal learning sessions and are now in a year where each teacher will be assessing some aspect of the curriculum.

At the end of last year, a teacher in Yr 4 preparing some mapping co-ordinate activities realised the value of designing an activity using robotics.    She came to me with her idea, we considered our resources (and the ones she already had) and she created a learning experience which has since involved every class in Year 4.  This involved using Dash robotics and some blockly coding to move the students around a map of Australia.

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A Year 2 teacher, passing the activity and seeing us using the Yr 2 class robots (Dash), realised that a similar idea could support her own children’s work in mapping and then went away and designed her own.    This involved lots of opportunities for children to articulate the language around grid coordinates and direction, the pass a ‘drivers licence’ for using their Dash robot and then to use the ‘Go’ app for Dash Robots to plan a route visiting parts of Australia and to control Dash to follow this path.

This was done with the children this week, we have since discussed how to tweak it and we will do the second round of it soon.

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And this is what I love and this is what I value – teachers knowing their kids, knowing the curriculum and then creating and designing experiences that will support one or more parts of it.    Importantly, what comes next is just as important if we look across a whole school –  the collaboration that can occur between teachers which allows these ideas to grow, spread, take root, change and get better each time.

Hats off to my teachers and the organic nature of good teaching.

Entrepreneurship and Design

So, this is what I am working on right now.    Last year, we implemented our first prototype of our Young Innovator Program and it was very much a prototype.  It was a dipping of our toes into the water of digital creation and creativity/design.  The kids were working on a range of segmented and isolated skills and as valuable as it was, I have always known we needed to take it to the next level this year – especially (at first) for our older students.  So, we come to our Moonshot Program.   This is Prototype 2.

It’s helpful to think back to where this started.  At the end of 2015,  when we had a ThinkTank with our community, we generated a range of ideas from which there were clear patterns  or categories.   The ‘safe bets’ were very much based around after school clubs.    Many of the ‘darling’ ideas were to do with industry interaction, kick-starters and entrepreneurship – see below:

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The below flyer is only a draft.  I am meeting with several people over the next week and hoping that their input can further shape the potential and possibilities of our ideas.   The idea of a ‘moonshot’ (“Moonshot Kids”) is fascinating for me.  Seth Godin:  “Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.”  And I would like to think that part of my work in my own work situation does this.   I would like to think that I challenge people and that I am brave enough and confident enough to keep doing this.   Moonshot Thinking came  from Google’s “Solve for X” project and has its roots in the genius of crazy, audacious ideas from people who don’t believe there is a ceiling to what they can do.

Video on Moonshot thinking

From the video:

We are a species of moonshot thinking – People can set their minds to magical, seemingly impossible ideas and bring them to reality through innovation, science, and technology.  This sets others on fire.

Human progress has been a series of amazing, audacious things, Our ambitions are a glass ceiling in what we can accomplish. When you find your passion you are unstoppable. You can make amazing things happen. It has been true through history. I believe in the human spirit.

If we become afraid to take these risks, we stop inspiring people, we stop achieving things. The biggest nightmare scenario is that we won’t have what it takes to solve the really big challenges.

The power of moonshot thinking is the mindset it harnesses and supports – the idea that problems can be identified by anyone and that solutions can be attained.    The enormous attraction for me of the Digital Technologies curriculum is that at its heart is the creation of digital solutions.    Deserving of this focus are our students and 10-12 yr olds are more than capable of working to develop the mindset, skill-set and toolset that this requires.

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Reaching their Potential – iPadPaloozaGC

Taj Pabaris of course the Yr 12 student at John Paul College who is an entrepreneur, running his own company “Hello56”.

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Taj spoke in his usual dynamic manner, speaking directly and honestly about his school experiences and about the things that inspired him.   He cited three key elements that he would like to see developed in the students of today:

    1. Flailing  (Failing+learning)
    2. Creativity
    3. Digital Literacy

Bella Paton- Yr 12 student at St Hilda’s spoke about her journey as a singer/songwriter.

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She discussed how she had liked singing at school but had got bored with choirs and performances and how she knew she had needed to find her niche.   She had been shown Logic as a music design and production tool and had started writing and creating her own original music which she sells through iTunes.   She finished her address with her own song which, when combined with her story, quite inspirational and humbling.

She has uploaded her songs to iTunes

Christopher Hills 

Chris is of course quite well known for his use of assistive ‘switch control’ on apple devices and how this allows him to be so much more than his disability.

The impact of this technology on his life has been amazing as he has a career that is flourishing.  Hills lives with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia, and is able to toggle through screens, surf the web, edit video content through the use of this program.

He was, quite simply, amazing and had the audience completely 100% awe-struck by what technology was enabling him to do and be.

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Michael Carr-Gregg

Michael is a well know and widely respected authority on wellness in young people we were fortunate to listen to a keynote presentation by him at iPadPaloozaGC.

His website 

He started talking about the findings from the annual Mission Australia Survey in which the data shows a worrying trend each year.  This survey collects information on what young australians are worried about.

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15 000 students are surveyed each year.

Their biggest problem is coping with stress

And when they are stressed, their learning is impaired.   This fact is undeniable.

He asked us to think about what we are doing about conflict resolution, anger management as schools – what are we doing to educate students about how to deal with these things.

A picture of student in Yr 12

30% are depressed

41% are stressed

18% are suicidal

  • Do students know the difference between sadness vs depression?  We need to raise their awareness of emotional coping strategies.
  • Mission Australia – Youth Survey showed that over 60% of our young people don’t know how to cope with stress.

Rates of suicide

Latest figures – 2864  suicided             60 000 thinking about it

Suicide rates – highest in 13 yrs

Suicide accounts for over one third of deaths in this age group.

Girls – 50% increase in 15-24 age suicide rates

The cost of supporting people with a mental illness  is enormous.

ANSWER:

Shift to a 21st century model of health

Give them the skills and strategies to manage their well-being

Technology matters to young people and so we need to leverage it.

  • Face-time – the most confidential way to have a conversation
  • It provides them with the flexibility and confidentiality
  • It is the way they communicate
  • Their worlds are seamless
  • Their real work is both off and online.
  • Teenagers check their phones on an average  56 times a day – once every 15 mins.
  • 9 out of 10 teenagers use their phone when they spend quality time with their parents.
  • 7 out of 10 – mates

This does not mean that there aren’t dangers and we have to acknowledge the dangers and educate them.   Let’s stop demonising technology however.  It is too much an integral part of their lives.  What we have is an unprecedented opportunity to manage kids.

Office of Children’s eSafety Commission

iParent – great resources for parents.

Case Study   How might we use technology to enhance the well-being of a student on the gold coast?

  • Case study student presents as anxious and has taken cannabis, her anxiety interferes with everything.

Single greatest predictor of well being in young females – friendship

  • Admits she is a perfectionist.
  • Physical manifestations – dry mouth, not sleeping, anxious, won’t stay asleep, can’t concentrate
  • Diagnosis – Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Treatment:

  1. Make sure she is educated about her disorder.     3 different ways to do this.

    And then start dealing with her problems:

1. Sleep (9 hrs)  They need this.  Single most important.   Psycoeducation in sleep.

  •  He will send her information about sleep and provide infographics.   
  • Show  her a TED talk by Geogie Prof Russell
  • Use an app ‘Recharge’ which teaches them about the importance of sleep.
  • Use an app Snorelab – to monitor snoring

2.  Breakfast – most teenagers don’t eat breakfast and they are incapable of learning if they have not had breakfast and haven’t slept.

  • he sends her information on the importance of having breakfast
  • he lets her know about the mood/foodl ink
  • he gets her using an app for the mediterranean diet.

3.  Anxiety

Interesting to think about what the research is saying about meditation.   Harvard Uni took volunteers through this program and they spent 27 mins a day on it.  The scans documented improvements in grey matter in the hippocampus and this is the area of the brain associated with stress.

4.  Exercise – personal trainers via an app.  Couch to 5 k

Zombies, Run – for boys

5.   Frienship (as she is worried about how her friends are).

Use The Check-In  app – YouthBeyondBlue

6.    Cannabis – Clear Your Vision

14.   App – Icope

iPadPaloozaGC – Richard Wells

Richard Wells – Twitter: @eduwells  His Web which is a collection of some awesome resources including posters and infographic collections.

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Richard is originally English and moved to NZ after he saw the potential for a different kind of learning.   He actually spoke about visiting NZ with his wife and young child and passing a school with a front fence you could step over and several students up a tree.  Both of these things seemed symbolic enough  (pointing to a different kind of Education system to what he was used to) for him to move his family from England.

He started by talking about the way USA and Australia viewed schools and teachers and that the entire system is basically built on a distrust of teachers and the view that teachers need to be manipulated to get them to do what we want them to do in order to get the results that are seen as optimal.

Podcasts mentioned – “Curious Minds”, “The Originals”   and the term ‘Vuja De’ – the idea of seeing school for what it is.  Comedy is often a clever way to make us see things for that they actually are.

The vuja de mentality is the ability to keep shifting opinion and perception.  It can mean reversing assumptions about cause and effect or what matters most versus least.    It means not travelling through life on automatic pilot.   

Bob Sutton – “Stealing up for Excellence”

WHY do we need to change?    (Making a case at our sites)

We were shown an image of Spok and a tricorder:Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 6.10.07 am.pngWell, this is now near reality and already in clinical trials – see this link with the winners to be announced at the beginning of 2017.

The point of this is that we hear a lot about manual jobs disappearing but the reality is that – high end jobs (those of the middle class) are going to be under threat also from the exponential change that is occurring.

  • Driverless cars – there are 100 000 on the road now.  Statistically the man asleep  in the clip below is safer than the man holding the iPhone.   UBER and google have signed up.  Google have a fleet.
  • Image of man asleep in driverless car
  • Richard discussed how the light bulb killed the candle industry – but then employed about the same number of people.  But now…this is not happening with the jobs that are disappearing.
  • Driverless buses and trucks already being trialled.

We are entering a phase of heavy disruption where a wide variety of jobs are being replaced…..

Top 20 skills

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  • People will change jobs every 3 years for the students who walk into the world of work after school.   One element of this to understand is that technology is changing  rapidly but we also need to understand that the younger people have the expectation they can have things now.
  • Amazon are replacing factory workers with robots.  They are also looking into drones for delivery.   This YouTube clip shows this.

Yr7@30 47% jobs gone  This could well be a CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE   – let’s halve that – still looking at tens of millions of jobs.

“Public outrage in this transitional period is unavoidable” – Oxford Uni.

The picture that’s in everyone minds won’t be realistic  – the picture that kids move from orange school buildings to purple uni buildings to blue work buildings – this is just not going to be the future for our current students.

Kids need to be resilient enough, self-aware enough and skilled enough to be able to cope in this world.

21st century schools in NZ – the whole focus has to shift from doing stuff (the focus is on output)  to be based around answering the question ‘who are you?’    We train them out of thinking about this within the first few years of school and we end up training them to  be a factory worker.

We need to be focussed on the individual….not the product.

This year, 7 governments have voted on the universal basic income Finland (guaranteed $2000 a month)……Switzerland has asked ‘ what would you do if your income were taken care of?”   WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?  needs to be answered.

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Traditional Model

1 teacher responsible for the whole class – usual model

21st century model 

All the layers have to shift so that the individual learners see themselves as being responsible for their own learning.

21st century school in 20th century buildings

Blog Post on Leadership by Richard with useful links to Ted talks etc.

Hobsonville Schools – NZ  “You have to lead with the community” and make it clear that    “it looks scary because it doesn’t look anything like you did at school”.

  • Kids – what is their mindset?   I am here to better myself  OR I am here to do work – because school was designed to create factory workers.    
  • NZ – the future is that every learner will plan their whole year.   No exams.  This is in 5 yrs time.   
  • Students often ask …”IS THIS ENOUGH?” and this is because they don’t see themselves in their work .  Another one:    “IS THIS IN THE TEST?”

Students who manage themselves are enterprising, resourceful,reliable and resilient.

They establish:

personal goals

make plans

manage project

set high standards

Recently at a conference in NZ – various schools were asked to present and each one, independently, chose Learner Agency  as the theme of each of their presentations.

Strategies for schools to initiate and manage change:

  • start with learner voice
  • start with the top students – the high performers – get their voices – they will be the compliant high performers.   We need to let the high performers fly.   Students have turned up because they have to.
    • Get some quotes from kids.   –  Examples from Richards students when he went searching:  top Yr 7 student     “They have templated inquiry”   “I started my journey to head girl in Yr 7”  “I made it to head boy because I make my bed”

Because girls are compliant – they perform better because our systems encourage compliance.   We should be looking for independence rather than compliance.  We are still stuck in ‘teacher issued’ education and a major part of change is simply getting adults to have faith in kids.

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Key elements –

Parents  (Why)    

Student Voice (top students)

Independence and adaptability

Faith in young people  (christchurch earthquake example)    #eqnz

Teach Process (How might we….?)  Design thinking can be one option.

Managing self

Teacher PD – visit schools

How to make learning visible?

Teach resilience

GOALS, TASKS, RELATE

When a teacher talks this is what happens:

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IDEA: “flip your teaching and then make learning active and personal for all”.

HOW MIGHT WE……..Why is this such a powerful phrase?

how – optimistic word

might – no correct answer

we – collaborative

SPACE    TIME   STAFF

IDEA – A week on design thinking at the beginning of the year.   Fun and nonsensical version  of design thinking so they have the process in their minds.

What can I do today??   What is my life going to be after school?

drawtoast.com – use this for some great resources for design thinking.

Learning must be visible 

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We need to provide kids with tools to track and discuss their own progress etc.

The teacher’s job should be to develop the individual to be able to set their own goals and monitor their own learnings.      Kids should know what to do when they are stuck….they should have strategies similar to the reading strategies that kids in JP know.

Idea – buy portable whiteboards and line the walls with them.   Make every wall an active space.   Get them to not sit down – spend an hour standing

Look further at:

Hobsonville Point Schools

Breens School

Look at solo taxonomy.

EdTech, Pedagogy and the Vision

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I’ve sat back and reflected a few times lately after discussions with teachers and after visits where they have popped in to show me things or ask questions – and I’ve gone on to articulate my thoughts to some of my leadership team members.   What I’ve attempted to articulate is that there seems to be evidence of the tide turning.

I’ve been providing leadership in the area of educational technology for about 17 years and it has often felt like 3 steps forward, 2 steps back and it’s often felt like I’m dragging people to a place they don’t understand and essentially don’t see as important.  Looking back I see  now that there were elements missing from the culture or the approach or the teacher’s skill-set, toolset or mindset.  In different situations it’s probably been a combination of elements.

And it’s never been about the technology.   And I guess that’s where the the lack of alignment can lie – that it does sometimes appear to about the technology, the flashy new toys or the gimmicky tools.   For me it’s never about that – technology, quite simply,  opens up opportunities. It can provide a voice for the quietest child.  It can allow another to fly.   It connects people to each other and others to the world.  In the right hands, in the hands of a skilled teacher who has superb pedagogical skills and deep content knowledge and understanding, technology can be used to bring content alive, to put creation tools into the hands of students, to empower the youngest in the school and to bring dreams alive.  Will technology ever replace good teachers – no. But a good teacher who also uses technology and combines this with inquiry and challenging, problem based learning = they are the teachers that will change the world for themselves and their students.

So, sometimes you have to just stop pushing.  Just stop.   Because people won’t be dragged. They are too smart.   Teachers have noble motives and they will make decisions based on their own sphere of reality or paradigm.   So change is tough and good change takes time.

What is necessary for change in a school environment is many elements coming together:

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Lately, teachers and others have come to me in a quest for more edtech or higher ratios of 1-1 devices …….and I’m the one resistant.  Why?  Because I’m sick of pushing ideas or technology onto people and then it being blamed for failure or dashed hopes.   Additionally, I won’t stand up in front of a group of parents and advocate for something that I am not 100% passionate about.   I now feel the need for quality-control and I need evidence of  good pedagogy because if this isn’t apparent and crystal clear – there’s no point.   If the vision is missing (as in above) or the skills are missing – we are never going to get the change we want to see.

But lately, as part of the conversations I referred to in the beginning of this blog – these are the some of the reasons I’ve been given:

  • We can use this across the curriculum and it enables them to express their ideas.
  • We can differentiate for the brightest kids and allow them to spread their wings and go further than the curriculum says
  • For those struggling, it allows them to move away from the tedious repetition of the skill they just aren’t getting and do it in another more interesting way.
  • Children can document their own learning
  • Children can show me improvements through the use of a digital portfolio.
  • Feedback and goal setting can be aligned and evident through the use of a device.
  • We can show a parent improvements and it can be clear and supported by such good evidence.

And you know what – I’m feeling humbled by the people around me right now.    I’m grateful for the leaders that support change.  I’m humbled by the energy and motivation of the people who work so hard to support me and I’m humbled by teachers who won’t shift until the intent and vision is clear.

 

Change or Stagnate?

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But stagnating is easy…..isn’t it?

And change is not – especially when people often are weary of change – change that they think happens simply for the sake of change.

And does interest matter?  Does engagement matter?  Does the identity of each child in front of you matter? Do their questions matter?

Do they?

And if we say that these things do matter……

How do we strike that balance – the balance between getting through the ‘stuff’ we need them to learn and allowing their interests, passions and identify to play a part in learning?  How do we strike the balance between the content that we think they need to understand before we let them design, create, innovate and problem-solve.   When is it that greater importance will be placed on the latter before the former?

Does this not mean that we start by not knowing where we might go and what we might learn? Does this not mean co-designing the learning?

I feel so much tension between these two facets right now in education.  But maybe to feel that tension means that change is in the air.  Maybe, without that tension, we stagnate and put up with being just good enough.  And being just good enough means, to me, doing things the way they have always been done.

And change is hard.   It’s oh so hard.

School improvement – how can we continue to meander along a path towards only the improvements that are measurable and visible and those that make us accountable?  Shouldn’t school improvement be bigger than this? Shouldn’t we be striving to discover the new things that we haven’t known about before that possibly are going to be the strategies of the future that become the dependable and proven strategies?   Are we being driven by the wrong drivers in school improvement?

I like to read Fullan when I’m feeling a bit unsure of that stance I am taking or when I am thinking that my intuitive feelings need some kind of theoretical backing.  This article is great as Michael talks about whole systems (and he uses Australian and the US as examples) working towards whole system reform and then selecting strategies that have the least likely chance of achieving that reform.   Australia – being driven by the lofty ideals of the Melbourne Declaration and then putting in place strategies that at best, tighten some looseness whilst doing nothing to change the essential culture of schools.

http://edsource.org/wp-content/uploads/Fullan-Wrong-Drivers1.pdf

And that’s what we need to do…..change the culture…..but to change the culture we have to change mindsets and mindsets are so rooted in experience…..and so we need to change people’s experiences but that requires a growth mindset.  And what if that isn’t present?  What if people think what they are doing is already good enough? What if they are so busy doing what needs to be done that there’s no question that it isn’t the most worthy path?  What if they think that being reflective and making changes based on those reflections is beneath them?

There’s a lot of ‘buts’ in that sentence.     It’s a huge risk, isn’t it – to change what we have always done.   But there’s oh so much to gain.

Break the cycle……hmmmm……

 

 

Banning Laptops

An article published in the SMH about Sydney Grammar Principal John Vallance and his views about technology said as much about his views of teaching and learning as it did about technology use. The principal was was pictured  in the article in front of a Latin class with students in rows sitting in front of the teacher.   This is a picture that, without the short throw projector at the front of the room, could have been taken at any time within the last century…..and certainly would have been a standard image from a classroom before the last 10 years of technological revolution.

In making a conscious decision to ban laptops from his school, Mr Vallance has chosen to ignore the advances and changes  in the world that have occurred in the  last 10 years.  In doing so, he has chosen to ignore any advantage in terms of learning opportunities for his teachers and students.  Many of these opportunities, such as online collaboration,  would provide depth and scope to the very type of learning he espouses.   

Other opportunities include but are certainly not limited to:

  • the opening up of individual lines of inquiry to students with real world applications
  • enabling students to work with teachers to become accustomed to interacting with the vast amounts of information that needs to sifted and critiqued,
  • enabling students to have options to express themselves and to create artefacts of their understanding. 
  • the powerful assistive use of technology and taking advantage of the ability it provides for the playing field to be ‘levelled’ for many students.

He names teaching as a social activity.  I agree. 

He talks about teacher quality.  I agree.  Teacher quality has never been more important and I don’t see that technology will ever replace an effective teacher who also invests time,  energy and a growth mindset towards the adaption and adoption of new technologies.

I agree with other points he makes.   The billions misguidedly invested in the Digital Education Revolution, which used taxpayer funds to buy laptops for high school students was misguided.   Instead, there should have been a significant component of this money allocated to the provision of professional learning opportunities for teachers to use technology when appropriate, across the curriculum.

The Australian Curriculum provides expectations for what all Australian students should be taught in Australia.   Schools are then responsible for the design of that learning so that the learning needs of their students are being met.   One of the key documents used to guide the design and intent of this curriculum was an agreement signed by the Federal Government in 2008.  Titled the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, it is a call to action and sets out to achieve the following:

Successful learners:

  • develop their capacity to learn and play an active role in their own learning
  • have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy and are creative and productive users of technology, especially ICT, as a foundation for success in all learning areas
  • are able to think deeply and logically, and obtain and evaluate evidence in a disciplined way as the result of studying fundamental disciplines
  • are creative, innovative and resourceful, and are able to solve problems in ways that draw upon a range of learning areas and disciplines
  • are able to plan activities independently, collaborate, work in teams and communicate ideas
  • are able to make sense of their world and think about how things have become the way they are
  • are on a pathway towards continued success in further education, training or employment, and acquire the skills to make informed learning and employment decisions throughout their lives
  • are motivated to reach their full potential.

Confident and creative individuals:

  • have a sense of self-worth, self-awareness and personal identity that enables them to manage their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing
  • have a sense of optimism about their lives and the future
  • are enterprising, show initiative and use their creative abilities
  • develop personal values and attributes such as honesty, resilience, empathy and respect for others
  • have the knowledge, skills, understanding and values to establish and maintain healthy, satisfying lives
  • have the confidence and capability to pursue university or post-secondary vocational qualifications leading to rewarding and productive employment
  • relate well to others and form and maintain healthy relationships
  • are well prepared for their potential life roles as family, community and workforce members
  • embrace opportunities, make rational and informed decisions about their own lives and accept responsibility for their own actions.

Active and informed citizens:

  • act with moral and ethical integrity
  • appreciate Australia’s social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, and have an understanding of Australia’s system of government, history and culture
  • understand and acknowledge the value of Indigenous cultures and possess the knowledge, skills and understanding to contribute to, and benefit from, reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
  • are committed to national values of democracy, equity and justice, and participate in Australia’s civic life
  • are able to relate to and communicate across cultures, especially the cultures and countries of Asia
  • work for the common good, in particular sustaining and improving natural and social environments
  • are responsible global and local citizens.

(Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians page 7-9)

General capabilities are a key dimension of the Australian Curriculum. They encompass knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.  By using ICT as a general capability, students are becoming confident and creative users of ICT – to do this – they should be using ICT across and within all curriculum areas – such that it is a tool and that when it is the best tool for the job – it  is used.

I am not sure how the provision of laptops within labs, as the Principal of Sydney Grammar discusses, supports the use of ICT as a General Capability.   ACARA pinpoint the effective use of the General Capabilities as key component in the work we must all do collaboratively to prepare students for their future lives.

Michael Fullan is a worldwide authority on educational reform with a mandate of helping to achieve the moral purpose of all children learning.   When discussing the steady decline of student engagement throughout schooling, he identifies a solution:

“…….it lies in the concentration of the three forces of pedagogy, technology, and change knowledge. If you want to head off destruction, we need to make it all about learning, let technology permeate, and engage the whole system.”

Possibly we have over-estimated the potential of technology in the past.  The OECD  certainly has found that schools are yet to take advantage of the potential of technology

“School systems need to find more effective ways to integrate | technology into teaching and learning  to provide educators with learning environments that support 21st century pedagogies and provide children with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world,” said Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills. “Technology is the only way to dramatically expand access to knowledge. To deliver on the promises technology holds, countries need to invest more effectively and ensure that teachers are at the forefront of designing and implementing this change.”

but by banning and removing technology we are removing from students and teachers the potential for technology to enhance learning, to make thinking visible, to remove borders and enhance collaboration, to expose students to different worlds and opinions to their own, and for students to create their own knowledge and solutions.

Written in the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda:

“An estimated 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest-growing industries in the next five to 10 years will need science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and almost all jobs will require ICT literacy.”

So, what does all this mean for schools?  As educators we have such a huge responsibility to ensure that the part we play in preparing our students for their futures is one that

So, in a time when there are so many jostling priorities for schools, how does a community work together to ensure that we are meeting the challenge of preparing our students for an uncertain future whilst still retaining that which will always be important in teaching and learning?  I would suggest that we:

  1.  Accept that our own experiences of schooling aren’t those that we should use to judge our children’s experiences.    This is difficult but If we are unable to do this, we risk making huge mistakes. 

2.  Along with no. 1 (above), it is important to question our assumptions.  Our assumptions are based on our own experiences and the lessons learnt from our own experiences might not necessarily be those we should be applying to our children’s present and future.

3.  Understand that pedagogy is the driver in any learning.   A range of pedagogies is essential for any learning and balance is key.  The use of technology can be used to accelerate pedagogy and can play a different role depending on pedagogy.

4.   A school needs to be become a ‘learning organisation’ (Fullan, Technology and the Problem of Change) –  with teachers and the organisation itself committed to understanding and enacting improvement.   This can often mean collaborative work cultures (or professional learning networks) with teachers becoming learners and enactors of change for improvement. 

Other articles written since the first article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/why-we-need-laptops-in-classrooms-20160403-gnx31h.html

http://www.julielindsay.net/2016/04/ban-technology-no-lets-ban-outdated.html

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/computers-class-scandalous-waste-money-philip-callil?trk=v-feed