What attracted you to specialise in the technology part of education?
When I enrolled to study my Bachelor of Education I was faced with the dreaded task of selecting my two teaching areas.
I was set on teaching business and legal studies; however, was not able to take this combination at the small university I was attending.
I therefore made the choice to study technology as my second teaching area with the view that it was going to be one of the most important influences on education in the coming years.
I was very happy with my decision and knew that it suited me the moment I stepped into the lecture theatre to learn C++.
What does your day-to-day role involve?
My role has evolved quite significantly, mostly due to the significant technological changes that were introduced during this time.
For the most part my role has been to support staff in managing the new IT systems that have been introduced; however, as the dust begins to settle I am beginning to work closely with faculties to enhance their use of technology within the classroom.
This involves regular meetings with teaching staff, managing our LMS [learning management system], providing targeted professional development and liaising with the technology department, dean of studies and other interest groups.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
One thing I have learnt from being an ICT teacher is that there will be at least 35 per cent of my class who know more about what we are learning than I do, and by the time I finish teaching a topic, that percentage will soar to 75 per cent.
This notion excites me. When a classroom teacher accepts and even embraces that a student may know more about technology, an opportunity to create a powerful and collaborative partnership is presented.
This opportunity could never exist with the old mindset of ‘teacher knows all’.
I love being able to work with teachers to build these collaborative partnerships with their students and engage them in a world beyond the classroom walls.
To see a teacher go from feeling uneasy about the iteration of technology in their classroom to a teacher who runs, jumps and flies with new ways of learning is rewarding for all involved.
And, the most challenging?
This role certainly has its challenges; however, these are mostly due to the fact that there is always so much to do and only so much energy and time in a day.
With a large teaching staff, it can be difficult finding the time to do everything I want to be able to do and to do it well.
My biggest challenge this year has been trying to pull everything together so that all of the eLearning projects are moving in the same direction with the same goal in mind.
Having a business background, I am all about goals, objectives and strategies so my year has been about establishing some sort of framework that the whole school can work from.
Which school ICT project are you particularly proud of, and why?
We are in the midst of implementing our first eLearning framework that will drive the integration of technology, higher-order thinking and inquiry learning in the classroom.
Working closely with the dean of studies and the head of faculty leaders, we have devised a Terrace Framework that is linked to our eLearning strategies and that can be implemented at a unit, assessment or learning activity level.
It is based on the priorities of the college, ACARA requirements and the SAMR Model of Technology Integration.
We are already seeing fantastic results as this framework is implemented across the school and I can’t wait to start working more intensely on this project in 2015.
What is the most common IT-related question you’re asked by staff?
As educators we are aware that students learn differently and we strive to cater for these varying learning styles through differentiated learning techniques and by offering diverse opportunities for students to learn in individualised ways.
The concept of individualised learning has evolved from the three learning styles of visual, auditory and kinesthetic to seven learning styles;
1. Visual: Using sight
2. Auditory: Using songs or rhythms
3. Verbal: Speaking out loud the information
4. Kinesthetic: Using touch and taste to explore the information
5. Logical: A more mathematical approach to concepts
6. Interpersonal: Learning in groups
7. Intrapersonal: Learning alone
While this seems like a comprehensive list, I still see a gap. A gap that completely ignores how young people are conducting most of their informal learning today – through technology.
I propose the need to cater for the ‘technological learner’.
The student who has grown up with the internet, a device in their pocket and with the idea that instant globalisation in their living room is the norm.
It would seem primitive to ask the students to leave their learning tool bag at the classroom door and force them into a learning environment that doesn’t cater for their way of exploring the world.
I am often asked what the benefits of BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] are for students.
Quite simply, the introduction of BYOD takes us one step closer to catering for these learners and taps into an opportunity where intrinsic motivation to learn can exist.
Coupling this with the differentiated learning techniques we already offer students can only enhance the quality of teaching and learning.
And by students?
Unfortunately, sitting in the IT Help Office I am often asked the basic IT questions relating to connecting to the school Wi-Fi, setting up printers and accessing emails.
What are your school’s ICT targets for 2015?
We have set ourselves a target that by the end of 2015, all faculty areas will have applied our new eLearning framework to at least three topics within their subject areas with a scaled level of support from the eLearning coordinator.
The idea is that by 2016 teaching staff will feel confident and inspired to drive their own journey in pushing the technological boundaries and my role will then evolve again into a more supportive relationship with staff, rather than being the driving force itself.
Which piece of technology or gadget has had the most impact on your role in the last five years?
Very simply the use of smart devices has completely changed the way we look at technology, and with that the expectations of our youth in terms of what they feel they should be able to bring with them into the learning environment.
No longer is it just laptops that students want to be able to learn with, it’s their tablets or their mobile phones and as schools are designed to cater to the needs of this generation, we should be working toward allowing such technology to be a part of their learning.
If you could visit another country to study their use of ICT in education, where would it be?
I would most likely visit the United States for a number of reasons.
Firstly, they have similar clientele to Australian schools in that our students follow similar trends and interests to American teenagers.
Secondly, the sheer volume of research and supporting documentation they hold about best practices and the educational impact of different technologies in the classroom is impressive and their younger teachers don’t appear to have a fear of technology, and so they seem more willing to try new things and test those boundaries.
That type of culture allows for such an amazing growth in innovated teaching styles that I feel there is a lot to learn from this system.
What is the best IT-related PD workshop/session you’ve attended and why?
I have had the pleasure of being able to work with Linda Pitt, the executive officer for Apple in Queensland.
She provides amazing support for our iPads in the Classroom initiative for our Year 5 and 6 teachers.
The way she delivers her workshops, the practical advice she provides and her suggested approach to unit planning which focuses on workflow, rather than apps, fits perfectly with what we are hoping to achieve at Terrace.
If you weren’t an educator, what would you like to be doing?
If I were not a teacher I would definitely be working with small businesses to develop working business plans.
With a Bachelor of Business and teaching senior business management subjects, I have developed a passion for small business enterprise development and believe this would be a rewarding career path that taps into both my creative and practical sides.