Changing Learning and Teaching
The intent of St Patrick's College’s ICT usage is to provide tools and resources for today’s learner. Excellence in education requires that technology is seamlessly integrated throughout the educational program. The individual use of ICT is a way to continue to empower students to maximise their full potential and to prepare them for future study. Effective teaching and learning with ICT (iPads/laptops/Apple tvs etc.) integrates technology into the curriculum at anytime and any place.
The College endeavours to continue to provide ICT that:
- Personalises and extends student learning
- Enhances planning for professional learning to improve teacher quality
- Supports connected learning beyond the College
- Supports systems for safe and appropriate access and management of digital learning and teaching resources.
We are committed to teach our students to use such technology safely, responsibly and ethically. Personal communication devices include a wide range of devices owned by individual students and brought to school for educational purposes. It is very important for students to learn when and where it is appropriate for personal communication devices to be used, as well as to understand the safe use of such devices and the dangers of their misuse.
One of our College’s goals is to prepare its members for life in an electronic, global community. As well as integrating technology within the curriculum we teach and encourage an ethical, balanced and responsible use of technology.
Learning New Skills
In this age of InfoWhelm, where every day we are faced with an abundance of information, teachers are no longer the sole keepers of the knowledge and anyone who has access to the Internet has access to knowledge. While it is still a focus of education today to teach specific content, we have to bear in mind that we need to equip our students with more than just information in order to prepare them for the future.
It is our responsibility to teach students skills that are transferable in both digital and non-digital environments. Skills can be grouped in the following categories:
Traditional skills that are no longer valued, such as sharpening swords or running an elevator.
Skills that are not as important as they once were, but still have some value, such as hand accounting, using the Dewey decimal system, doing long division. There is nothing wrong with these but they are not as important as they once were because the tasks they apply to can now be achieved more easily with new technologies.
Traditional Literacy Skills
These are as valuable today as ever, because they are essential to interpersonal communication, and include things like reading, writing, numeracy, and researching.
Traditional Skills with Increased or Differentiated Emphasis
These are traditional skills that have developed elevated importance as a result of the emergence of the information media age. Such skills would include critical thinking, problem solving, understanding how to use new technologies, photo editing, and imaginative storytelling. These are not new skills, but have become increasingly important in the digital age.
Skills Unique to the 21st Century
These are skills that were not necessary 10 to 15 years ago, created because of the developing digital technologies, such as social networking, online communication, digital citizenship, and 21st-century collaboration.
If we analyse the types of skills that our students need to develop, given the fast pace of (digital) change, five key fluencies have been identified:
Students need the ability to solve complex problems in real time.
Students need to be able to think creatively in both digital and non-digital environments to develop unique and useful solutions.
Students must possess the ability to collaborate seamlessly in both physical and virtual spaces, with real and virtual partners globally.
Students must be able to communicate, not just with text or speech, but in multiple multimedia formats. They must be able to communicate visually, through video and imagery, in the absence of text, as actively as they do with text and speech.
This is about being able to look critically at content in any medium, as well as choosing the most appropriate and effective medium for communicating an intended message and then being able to produce it. Media Fluency means being a 'prosumer' - a consumer and producer of digital content. Students need to be able to think analytically, to compare, contrast, evaluate, synthesise and apply what they have learnt.
Each of the above skills must be acquired parallel to students learning to be responsible global digital citizens, which includes fiscal responsibility, personal accountability, environmental awareness, empathy, and tolerance.
During the Industrial Age it was predominantly university-bound students that needed these skills. However, in the emerging digital era, the vast majority of students (not just an academic elite) need 21st century fluency skills if they are to succeed in the world that awaits them once they leave school.
21st Century Education
Today, reading is more than the linear experience of literature, manuals, workbooks or technical instructions, but has broadened to encompass interaction with multimedia, blogs and wikis. Writing has moved beyond just being able to communicate effectively with pen, paper and text. Mathematics is about more than memorizing and applying formulae, definitions, and algorithms.
There is a shift in thinking patterns that is happening to the digital generation. They engage daily with an online world of multimedia and random access; a video, audio, visual world where multitasking is commonplace. We must address this shift by acknowledging that our students think and operate differently because of the emerging and growing digital landscape, and it follows that they will also need to learn differently from the way we were taught.
In their book “Literacy is Not Enough”, authors Crockett, Jukes and Churches identify key components of the 21st century learning environment:
- Relevance of content and tasks; not to the teacher, but to the learner.
- Opportunities for creation, which will ensure development of higher-order thinking skills.
- Engagement with the real world.
‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler
We need to educate our students for their future…not our past.