How technology is transforming our classrooms

For a world in a perpetual state of transformation, technology is shattering old certainties and erasing aged dogmas. It’s redefining our professional systems and our personal networks. It’s altering how we approach problems and is expanding the realm of what’s possible.

We now occupy a world that is connected on multiple dimensions and at a deeper level – a global system of systems.

The same transformation is occurring in our classrooms. Gone are the days of the teacher barking orders to 30 students from a black board. In its place are carefully planned and easily adaptable lesson strategies to maximise student engagement. Technology is facilitating this shift.

As part of the SVA Growing Great Teachers project, I’ve had the privilege of entering classrooms and speaking to teachers in low SES schools. Against the odds, I’ve seen teachers leverage the possibilities of technology to truly personalise the learning of their students.

In low SES schools, this is essential. The degree of differentiation is immense. Therefore, creating systems to better track the progress of students and fashioning ways to improve student engagement is critical.

The greater use of technology in the classroom is also having a positive impact on parental engagement. An inspiring example of this is a project run by Monica Cheung as part of the UWS Fair Go Project. Monica, an early career teacher from Lansvale Public School in Sydney’s South West, has been running a project targeted at increasing parental engagement for her year 1/2 composite class to improve learning at home.

Part of this project has involved creating an online platform where Monica is able to post learning objectives, project details, and any class announcements to be communicated directly to the parents. This has improved the interaction with the students’ parents and the transparency of what is being achieved in the classroom. As a result, parents have become more engaged with their child’s learning and the students are continuing at home what they learnt at school.

Just by having access to technology in the classroom, however, does not necessarily translate to transformational results in student outcomes. Clearly it takes more than just giving each classroom a crate of shiny iPads. To realise the results, greater and more directed investment in the training of teachers using technology must occur. Such training is especially essential for teachers who do not feel comfortable or accustomed to the breakneck speed by which technology is changing the education landscape.

For in this kind of economy, those who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow. The global marketplace is such that a good job can be located anywhere there’s an Internet connection – where a student in Sydney will compete with students in Tokyo and Shanghai. While we can’t be certain of which direction and what form the future economy will take, we can have confidence that technology will play a central role. Therefore, to prepare our children for a future that will surely be dominated by technology, we must ensure our teachers have the knowledge to impart these skills.

Education is now the currency of the information age, and your knowledge is the most valuable commodity you can sell. The new economies of the world demand a deeper conception of talent and the organic nature of our lives demands it too.