The Polished Gem: getting teaching and technology and learning just right.

The Polished Gem: getting teaching and technology and learning just right.

It so often feels like we work in either or paradigms.  Ether we can have authentic learning experiences, or skills acquisition.  Either technology is an enabler or a distraction.  Either standardised tests like NAPLAN and WACE are valuable instruments or they take away valuable teaching time.

We need to work together to articulate the challenges and the opportunities that digital technology creates and decide how, as both a community and individuals, we can work together to create a future that maximises the benefits of technology while minimising the problems.

To code or not to code, is that the question?
Centre for the Edge/Geelong Grammar School

When it comes to education technology initiatives a similar tension seems to arise.  Schools and teachers want the flexibility and autonomy to set their own paths, but not at the expense of being left behind or missing out on what the school next door may be doing.

The hype surrounding Flipped Classrooms, BYOD and Blended Learning is forcing teachers and school districts to meet tomorrow’s challenges, while still attempting to bed down and consolidate yesterday’s innovations.  Regardless of where you stand on the flipped classroom debate, the rise of the Khan Academy and now the interest in the new TED Ed platform these innovations certainly have teachers and school districts talking.  Finding the right synergy between teaching content, good classroom pedagogy and integrating emerging technology into the classroom environment is the challenge facing teachers today.

People expect to be able to learn and work anywhere, with constant access to learning materials, as well as to each other. Schools have made great strides in generating more methods and platforms for teachers, students, and staff to collaborate and be productive wherever they are. The advent of always connected devices has provided more flexibility in how, when, and where people learn, and many schools have updated their IT infrastructures accordingly.

It’s rare then that schools are brought together under a single initiative that provides both flexibility and autonomy to present learning appropriate to the needs of teachers and students, and joins educators and students together in a single platform to leverage the wisdom of the crowd.

With LEADing Light, CEWA is unifying 163 Catholic schools across Western Australia in a single Office 365 tenant. With the toolset available under the LEADing Lights initiative teachers have greater flexibility to adapt and augment the learning that takes place in classrooms each day. Unlike some school monolithic learning management systems that require teachers to take a cookie cutter approach to incorporating digital technology into their learning programs, the flexibility and creativity of tools such as Teams for Education, OneNote and ClanEd ensure a sensible approach to technology adoption. From Finland, ClanEd uses artificial intelligence and real-time learning analytics to provide unique insights into study performance, orientation and motivation of learners. This insight is returned to learners in form of actionable recommendations thus personalizing the learning for different individual learners. This approach is mirrored with the Microsoft tools on offer. Utilizing the benefits of a cloud data environment, all learning interactions can be tracked, mapped and used to inform teacher planning.

With 80 000 students being taught by 15 000 teachers, the ability to work together collaboratively on a common platform ensures teachers and learners alike are not alone on their learning journey.

While mobile and digital learning strategies have increased over time, disparities in high-speed broadband connectivity and in engagement between different student groups (socioeconomic status, gender, etc.) prompt school leaders to continuously evaluate the affordability, access, and quality of their learning content.