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How digital technology is ushering in a new age of learning

Rebecca Merrett | Dec. 12, 2014
Digital disruption is driving education outside the boundaries of the classroom and into a host of new online opportunities.

Jensen says a lot of students are not allowed to play with these kinds of technologies at school, where it is seen to be a distraction. "We need to stop blocking them and thinking it's a bad thing," she argues.

"That's where the library can be a centre for teaching kids to use information in a way that is responsible and in a place where they are [supervised] while they are using it, while giving them freedom to make mistakes and maybe fail."

Richards says makerspaces are a way of encouraging computational thinking, a vital skill needed for jobs in the future.

"The national curriculum [in Australia] has a great focus on computational thinking. They are realising this is a crucial skill for future careers because the workplace is changing and new jobs are being invented every year," he says.

Collaborative, connected classrooms
St Columba is one of the first education institutions to adopt Google's Classroom learning management system, which was released in August, and has been selected by the search engine giant to be the international case study.

Part of Google Apps for Education, Classroom allows teachers to set up different folders for each class and student, and allows students to conduct work and submit assignments online and receive feedback.

"It also utilises social networking platforms and ways of communicating. It has a stream, which is just like your thread or your home page in other social networking platforms," Richards says. "An example is my students have been posting their project updates and other students comment underneath or ask questions.

"I've had students continue to participate in the class even when they are not onsite and are at home ill."

The school is connecting with other schools and experts overseas using Google's Connected Classrooms and Chromebox for Meetings.

"Learning needs to be global now, we are living in a global classroom. We really should be connecting with experts, so if you are learning about volcanoes you talk to a volcanologist," Richard says.

"This is modelling 21st century skills that students are going to need when they leave school. The workforce of the future is global and being able to communicate, collaborate and innovate with people in different countries is going to be a vital skill."

Leeming Senior High School in WA is also trying to develop 21st century skills in its students. The school's ICT co-ordinator, Gabby Raggio, says exposing students to new and emerging technologies is important to sparking their curiosity and encouraging innovative thinking.

"We have two 3D printers used within our design and technology area. Students will use CAD or SketchUp and they will design things," she says. Raggio is also using a free 3D modelling program called Sculptris in her digital media class.

 

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