Australia’s education system continues to be held back by traditional attitudes towards technology, a recent roundtable of IT managers has heard.
Speaking at a roundtable in Brisbane on the future of IT in schools, John Lockhart from the Queensland Department of Education and Training, said technology could play a role in diversifying education.
“One thing my daughter told her teacher, to my surprise, was ‘I don’t learn the way you teach’,” he said. “If we think about the diverse style of kids and their learning, the interaction between the technology and the pedagogy is where we need to spend our time.”
IT operations manager at St Laurence’s College, Anthony Kennedy, agreed, saying that technology plays a key role in changing attitudes.
Catholic Education manager of information and planning, Brett Auton, said technology was a reminder to teachers of the constant need to adapt to new teaching methods.
“Devices will be there as a constant reminder that schools need to change,” he said. “That’s all that they are there for at the moment, and that’s ok.”
IT operations manager at St Laurence’s College, Anthony Kennedy, said his organisation was trying to leverage technology through increasing IT-based roles at the school, despite recent claims by Classroom 2.0 founder, Steve Hargadon, that education is struggling to make sense of technology.
“We are advertising for a director of e-learning,” he said. “They will be in the room next to our professional development room for teachers, and we hope that this will build better relationships,” he said.
Dr Mark Weston, an education strategist for Dell and chair of the roundtable, said social media tools need to be interpreted differently if the education system is to enter the world of Web 2.0.
“We’re in an existing paradigm and we’re looking at technology in limited ways,” he said. “If we see time as learning, this would allow us to interpret social media differently.”
While Weston said the conversation about technology in the classroom was becoming more fragmented, the group agreed that small steps are being taken by IT managers in schools.
“Our teachers have been the first group to go through and get their PAYG statements online for the very first time,” Auton said. “By getting people saying ‘I have no other option than to get my statements online’, this will start the ball rolling on the process.”
Kennedy echoed Auton’s sentiments, stating that having relevant stakeholders on board would help the cause of IT in the classroom.
The insights come as the use of tablet devices in schools is on the rise, with the Tasmanian Department of Education and Training recently revealing over 30 iPads are being trialled in a number of schools across the state.