If there is one thing educators can all agree on, it’s that the world is changing quickly and schools need to equip students with skills to thrive in the cut-and-thrust of modern life.
“Every day there are businesses that are being disrupted by new technology,” said The Geelong College director of teaching and learning Adrian Camm.
“We can see what has happened with the automotive industry in Geelong. The world is changing quickly and adaptability and flexibility are going to be crucial.”
According to the 2017 edition of The Good Careers Guide, the top jobs of the future will be shaped by technology — eradicating some jobs while creating others.
The most growth is expected among early education teachers, occupational therapists, social workers, special education teachers, speech professionals and audiologists. Good Education Group chief data analyst Ross White said the top emerging jobs all use technology and devices, in conjunction with human interaction.
“Where human interaction is at the core of an occupation, these roles are virtually impossible to automate and leave to computers and machines alone,” Mr White said.
“But what we do know is that technology, like robotics and automation, will become an integral part of the way many jobs are delivered and enhanced.”
The Geelong College has recently introduced a Year 10 elective called Digital Media and Design that aims to equip students with entrepreneurial skills and technological know-how.
Students learn about film-making, app design, social media campaigns, animation and graphic design.
“There is a real emphasis on learning by doing so students will work in a studio environment to learn first-hand what it’s like to work as a designer or a filmmaker,” Mr Camm said. “It’s much more advanced than how education used to be a long time ago, which was purely the transmission of information from teacher to student.”
The Geelong College art department is using technology to forge new ways of creating artworks, combining sketching and painting instruction with 3D printing and laser cutting.
Mr Camm said underpinning the innovation programs was a broader focus on learning as a life-long, ongoing process rather than an end goal.
“Our three innovation principles are design, refine and evaluate,” he said. “The process is just as important as the end result.”
The Friends’ School co-head of science faculty Kristi Ellingsen said technology has become so integral, it is a “silent addition” to the classroom.
“We try to expose students to as much technology now so they are prepared for the late 21st Century,” Ms Ellingsen said. “We don’t know the exact problems they will be facing, but we can help them become creative, with good problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills.
“We want them to be able to see an opportunity and have the skills to take it up.”
While much of the technology will be redundant or surpassed by the time students hit the workforce, Ms Ellingsen said schools could still focus on core tech skills that were easily transferable to a range of platforms.
Coding skills are taught at The Friends’ School in Hobart, alongside non-computer forms of innovation.
“We teach kids, for example, about design skills by giving them some kebab sticks and asking them to solve engineering problems with a bridge,” Ms Ellingsen said.
A range of Google products have allowed for collaborative classroom learning.
“You can be doing a science experiment and the entire class is shared into one Google document and they’re able to add their own data notes to their sections at the one time,” Ms Ellingsen said.
A concept known as “flipped classrooms” is also changing the way children learn.
“Teachers will give students instruction to go home and watch a video and it will be the teacher giving instruction on a topic as the homework,” Ms Ellingsen said. “Then the students will come to school the next day and write a report or notes on what they learned, rather than doing that at home, which was the traditional homework model.
“It gives the students time to think about what the teacher said on the video and really absorb that information.”
The Friends’ School also uses the Maker Movement school of learning, which emphasises learning through doing rather than simply listening.
There is a lutherie club, in which students make an acoustic steel string guitar and an aviation club, in which students learn about aerodynamics and receive an instructional flight.
Students are encouraged to see technology as a “building material” and to take learning into their own hands.
The Maker Movement at The Friends’ School emphasises self-responsibility, learning through “hard fun”, taking time to complete a project and perseverance in the face of difficulty or setbacks.
This article originally appeared in The Weekly Times – Technology in the classroom is vital for future careers