Students need to be prepared for our modern world. Academic success is vital, but a knowledge of technology and how to use it is also vital. (Other things are also very important in schools. Things such as learning some social skills, collaboration, fitness and being part of a sporting team, music and other co-curricular activities, etc. are also very important. However, they are things school have been doing for long time and are often better integrated into traditional ‘classrooms’.)
The growth of STEAM and more technology to the classroom has added to a sometimes heterogeneous educational technology environment. In some cases, the use of computers and technology enhanced learning is still not consistent across classes in the same school, let alone consistent across schools.
Yet our students cannot afford an inconsistent approach.
Consider a primary school with three classes in a year level, as represented in the diagram below. Imagine that some teachers have embraced technology to enhance learning, while others find the change more difficult and thus use it sparingly.
Consider the possible progress of an individual student over the six years represented. This is shown by the red line. The student could complete six years of education with minimal contact with technology.
Consider the progress of another student. This student could spend each year exposed to technology, and would have the rewards associated with technology enhanced learning.
Yet these are two students in the same school!
This would be very difficult to explain to a parent. We are striving for equity in education in all areas, yet clearly some students may be disadvantaged.
Obviously, this is a simplification and it illustrates two extremes. Do we have equity in all other areas? Probably not. However, it does highlight a significant problem.
So what can be done? Obviously, we all need to be working to a useful implementation of the National Curriculum. We also need to ensure there is sufficient Professional Development for teachers, sufficient support for them in implementing change successfully in the classroom, and sufficient resources to make this all possible.
Once we get each school ‘right’ perhaps we can work on getting all schools ‘right’, where every student in every school in Australia has equal access to the core technology enhance learning.
Idealistic? Yes. Difficult? Yes. Possible? Yes.
Well planned and well implemented whole school change is necessary. It is not a luxury that should be placed in the ‘too difficult’ category. Our students deserve this and more!
About the Author:
Peter West is Director of eLearning at Saint Stephen’s College in Australia. He has over 15 years’ experience leading K12 schools in technology enhanced education, particularly blended learning using online learning environments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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