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Digital Technologies: the future is now!

Whilst we do not know the entirety of what the future holds, our future as a global society is increasingly characterised by a digital existence. Students completing their education today will have a vastly different experience of digital technologies as part of their educational journey from the one we, as adults, may have had. A recent white paper suggests, “Educators must balance newer non-traditional subjects such as emotional intelligence or the innovation process with more traditional skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic. Educators should also balance the focus on job specific skills with skills designed to develop well rounded students and skills that can be broadly applied in the job market”.

In March 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the mean number of devices used to access the internet at home per household has increased from 5.8 in 2014-15 to 6.2 in 2016-17. Nearly all (99%) households with children under 15 used a mobile or smart phone to access the internet. This acknowledgement of the significant engagement of children under 15 with digital technologies at home and in schools means that our students are immersed more and more in a digital culture which brings with it its own language and context. The digital technologies curriculum is a means by which educators can provide opportunities for students to develop skills in the digital technologies landscape. Students are then able to link and applying these highly demanded skills post their schooling with future employment opportunities regardless of industry or occupation.

When students are equipped with a deep understanding of information systems they can actively participate in contributing to a culture of digital and online technologies. This understanding is articulated in the Australian Curriculum where the skills of process and production are progressively developed and give students opportunities to create ideas and information, and to define, design and implement digital solutions, and evaluate these solutions and existing information systems against specified criteria. Development of skills in computational and systems thinking allows students to become designers and producers of purposeful digital solutions to problems that are real, relevant and meaningful to them rather than merely consumers of digital products.

At Christian College Geelong, students are encouraged to explore their digital world with curiosity and enthusiasm. Many students from as early as Prep have a familiarity of the use of electronic devices, however, their understanding of what a digital system is can often be limited. As students engage with the digital technologies curriculum, they develop skills, knowledge and understanding of algorithms as sequences of simple steps or decisions used to solve problems and innovatively transform data into digital solutions. Students use devices such as laptops to explore this thinking, however, they also explore computational thinking further in unplugged activities.

A key area for exploration within this digital technologies curriculum is coding. Students at Christian College engage in a variety of hands on experiences that encourage creative and critical thinking to imagine possibilities and develop solutions. At Junior School students use programs such as Scratch, Grok Learning courses and Turtle Academy and robotic devices such as Ozobots to follow, write, design and implement algorithms the involve decision making and user input and problem solving. These many and varied opportunities for immersion in coding programs help students to not only develop a knowledge of the elements of coding but also an understanding of ways they can apply this knowledge.

At Christian College, we recognise our students are digital citizens in a global context, that is, “people who have the knowledge and skills to effectively use digital technologies to communicate with others, participate in society and create and consume digital content”. When students are invited to learn in a digital space, they are also invited to communicate with others. Therefore, a significant part of the digital technologies curriculum is to build student capacity in understanding appropriate responsible behaviour, appropriate online ethics and etiquette and how to stay safe online. Christian College is strategic in the way it build this capacity in students and is an accredited member of the eSmart community. eSmart is an initiative of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation that assists educators to best manage cyber risks and issues so students feel safer and supported. eSmart helps students recognise the need to be safe, smart and responsible users of digital technologies.

As students prepare for seeking future pathways in a globally connected digital world we will continue to equip our students to acquire a deep knowledge and understanding of digital systems so that they are active and informed digital citizens with an opportunity to creating innovative digital solutions that positively impact societies current and future needs.

Ann-Marree Weigl
Head of Junior School - Belmont

 

 

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