Digital Education in Australian Schools

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The change to predominately digital education technology occurred in the early 1990s. Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne was the first school in the world to introduce a 1:1 computer policy for students. The global consensus is that digital education will give students the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. This is evident as governments the world over introduce policies around digital education in schools.

Technology in the Classroom

…it is the mainstream belief that digital education is the way forward.

In Australia the $2.1 billion Digital Education Revolution (DER) was a policy brought out in 2008/09 that aims to see a 1:1 ratio of computer devices per student. The huge investment in this policy is due to the growing link between technology and economic prosperity. Workplaces of the future will be technology-rich environments that require teamwork and greater levels of innovation. The Australian Government is spending $29.5 billion on the NBN project to ensure Australia has a high-speed broadband network for students to use.

Alongside the development of the infrastructure for digital education the Australian Government has created the first fully digital curriculum in the world that is available online in a “flexible and dynamic format, directly linked to digital resources” (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2008). The new Australian Curriculum “will help drive recognition that digital technologies are core tools in the modern education system” (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2008).

These emerging policies and projects demonstrate the high level of support for digital technologies and indicate that it is the mainstream belief that digital education is the way forward. Countless studies have indicated that digital technology in education is “creating changes in what students learn as a result of the change in how they learn… resulting in high quality learning outcomes” (Aust Govt, p.23). These policies highlight the importance of computer-based learning in Australian schools.

The Australian Government’s education policies are not the only thing indicating the importance of computer-based learning for students; several theorists have concluded what type of digital education is successful for learners.

A New Age in Digital Education

Stigmar and Karlsudd have concluded that a restructuring needs to happen away “from organizing teacher-centred learning situations towards student-centred” (2009, p.77). They suggest by giving the students the power to direct their own learning it will enhance engagement and learning outcomes. They even suggest that self-studying students could use “easy-to-read self-instructive study material” instead of relying on the teacher for all their information (Steigmar and Karlsudd, 2009, p.78). This is because “perceived autonomy, perceived competence and perceived relatedness… are the most [important] influences upon e-learning regarding continuance of intention and use” (Edmunds, Thorpe, Conole, 2012, p. 72).

Alan Clarke states that “the critical feature of computer-based learning… is interactivity – that is, the power of the computer to engage, communicate and adapt to the learner” (Clarke, 2001, p.2). He goes on to say that interactivity is not just getting students to click icons but it is “about engaging their minds” (2001, p.3). This is because learning is an active process.

Information presented on screen does not have a high chance of success unless the learner can make choices and receive feedback (Clarke, 2001). Edmunds, Thorpe and Conole add to this concept by saying that information presented on screen should “be a balance of easy questions (perceived competence), easy to use software and relatedness to the learning goals (perceived relatedness)” (Edmunds, Thorpe and Conole, 2012, p. 74) as they are important for continuance and retaining student’s interest in the topic.

This background highlights the practical aspects of computer-based learning and the evolution from an analogue classroom to the modern digital classroom. It is important to understand that computer-based technology will greatly benefit student learning outcomes if the teaching component is adapted to suit today’s learners. By adapting to a student-centred teaching approach, problems such as distraction and disengagement will be overcome.

Platforms like sQuizya aim to assist the modern classroom with digital solutions and tools to help teachers achieve the learning goals of all students.

References

  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations ‘Digital Education Revolution – Overview’Australian Government of Australia (2008) Web.
  • Digital Education Advisory Group Final Report | Department Of Education And Training – Document Library, Australian Government. education.gov.au. (2013.) Web.
  • Stigmar, M., & Karlsudd, P., ‘On-line education, more than one-way education’ Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence, 1(1), (2009). 77–87, Web.
  • Edmunds, R., Thorpe, M., & Conole, G. ‘Student attitudes towards and use of ICT in course study, work and social activity: A technology acceptance model approach’ British Journal of Educational Technology, (2012) 43(1) 71-84 Web.
  • Clarke, Alan. Designing Computer-Based Learning Materials. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Gower, (2001) Print.