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Academic Views - Revving up the Education Revolution

21 July 2010

David Robertson is executive director of Independent Schools Queensland which recently co-hosted with John Paul College a conference titled 'The Education Revolution in Action 3 - Developing Digital Learners'

Integrating technology ... David Robertson.

Integrating technology ... David Robertson.

Schools and teachers in Queensland are witnessing fast and dramatic changes in their classrooms since the Federal Government announced plans for an 'Education Revolution' almost three years ago.

School leaders, teachers and technology partners are working hard to keep up with the roll-out of these changes, such as the new Australian curriculum and the plan to provide every student from Year 9 to 12 with a computer.

Recently, John Paul College and Independent Schools Queensland invited principals, curriculum heads, teachers, IT staff, librarians and industry experts from around Australia to come together and explore the trials and benefits of this 'Education Revolution' and our new role in developing digital learners.

The three-day conference explored the development and deployment of new technology infrastructure, its applications in classrooms settings and the systems and processes needed for administration.

The conference was also a great opportunity to showcase classroom innovations and technology already working and delivering results in schools.

Keynote speaker Jane Mackarell manages Microsoft Australia's Partners in Learning external page (will open in a new window), an initiative that focuses on professional learning support around the use of ICT in Australian schools.

Ms Mackarell discussed the impact of these new broad educational policies as well as the significant shifts in the way students want to learn and our duty to equip them for their working lives in the 21st century.

The long-discussed dream of a computer for every student is starting to become a reality for schools under the Federal Government's secondary school laptop program, with some 300,000 laptops delivered so far to classrooms across Australia. Now schools, teachers and even companies like Microsoft have to learn how best to incorporate the technology into everyday lessons.

Ms Mackarell reported Microsoft was working hard to understand the unique needs of schools and provide the right type of programs and support for teachers, students and parents, in particular through Partnerships in Learning programs like Innovative Schools external page (will open in a new window), Innovative Teachers external page (will open in a new window) and IT Academy external page (will open in a new window)

Teachers and schools also have a big job ahead. Just having the technology is not enough. The last thing anyone wants to see are laptops being used as de facto pen and paper.

If students are to achieve the best results, schools need to integrate the technology in the curriculum and classroom to ensure everyone is using the new tools to their advantage.

This is why it is vitally important that schools, teachers and parents are provided with the right advice, professional development and government support to better embrace the new technology.