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Context of Change #EDUC5608

October 17, 2015

Descriptions of the 21st century school’s characteristics commonly identify

  • collaboration,
  • problem seeking and resolving, in relation to
  • individualised learning paths which draw on
  • higher order thinking skills, achieved by fostering creativity through
  • inquiry learning, project based learning, and passion projects,

all of which offer more flexible configurations of delivery than those traditionally available (Garcia, 2014; Jukes, McCain & Crockett, 2010; Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011).


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As emerging technologies assert their ability to impact on education, a shift from novelty to normalisation is considered underway (Bax, 2003). How that change is experienced at the local level can be problematic.

Since 1991 with the creation of the read write web and the subsequent evolution of web 2.0 tools, mobile devices and applications, interactivity has rapidly been enabled. Rigid hierarchical environments, such as schools, have been disrupted by the flexibility which is the hallmark of networked systems (Heppell, 2012; Moyle, 2010).

Change may have been rapid, but adjustment in education has been slow. While trend predictions include increasing use of blended learning, STEAM and Bring Your Own Device (Meeker, 2015; NMC, 2015), this paradigm shift, especially the ease of sharing from mobiles, can be a source of concern, even fear, to many school leaders who are entrusted with leading and managing the pedagogical ecosystem in their schools.


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According to the scope of the ICT capability defined in the Australian Curriculum,

students develop ICT capability as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access, create and communicate information and ideas, solve problems and work collaboratively in all learning areas at school, and in their lives beyond school. The capability involves students in learning to make the most of the digital technologies available to them, adapting to new ways of doing things as technologies evolve and limiting the risks to themselves and others in a digital environment (ACARA, n.d., para 1).

Clearly, we are evolving practices and new pedagogical skillsets are required. Ubiquitous learning may be perceived as exerting a democratising influence (Hagel, Seely Brown & Lang-Davison, 2010), however, funds allocated for refurbishment and new infrastructure in the Digital Education Revolution have been exhausted (Rosman, White & Hoad, 2008). Critics also argue that global market forces dominating the debate which drives technology implementation serve questionable agendas (Cuban, 2001).

In order to leverage the opportunities inherent in using technology as promoted in the national curriculum, what is essential necessitates both rethinking the role of teaching, and scaling teaching innovations. Currently, both these attributes are seen as elusive (NMC, 2015). Policy documents offer directions to navigate the desired transformation:

… deep knowledge within a discipline, which provides the foundation for inter-disciplinary approaches to innovation and complex problem-solving, … and the development of practical ICT, design and technology skills, as these are … central to Australia’s skilled economy and provide crucial pathways to post-school success (MCEECTYA, 2008, p. 13).

Tracing origins of the call to change firmly within an evolutionary process, we can see that teachers as designers of learning experiences have much to learn; if  improvements can only be achieved by “great teaching”, considered focus will prioritise professional learning (Jensen, Hunter, Sonnemann & Cooper, 2014).

What that will look like is open to ongoing co-creation, and presents scope for imaginative design.

Selected references

Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d.). Scope of ICT capability.  Retrieved October 11, 2015

Bax, S. (2003). CALL – Past, present and future. System, 31, pp. 13–28.

Cuban, L. (2001). Oversold and underused: Computers in the classroom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Garcia, A. (Ed). (2014). Teaching in the connected learner classroom. The Digital Media + Learning Research Hub Report Series on Connected Learning. Retrieved October 10, 2015

Hagel, J., Seely Brown, J. & Davison, L. (2010). The power of pull: How small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion. New York: Basic Books.

Heppell, S. (2012). Possible futures. EdTalks video. Retrieved October 5, 2015

Jensen, B., Hunter, J., Sonnemann, J. & Cooper, S. (2014). Making time for great teaching. Grattan Institute. Retrieved October 10, 2015

Jukes, I., McCain, T. & Crockett, L. (2010). Understanding the digital generation: Teaching and learning in the new digital landscape. Kelowna, BC, Canada: 21st Century Fluency Project Inc. & Corwin.

Meeker, M. (2015). Internet trends – 2015. Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield, Byers. Retrieved October 5, 2015

Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECTYA). (2008). Melbourne Declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Melbourne: Curriculum Corporation. Accessed October 5, 2015 from

Moyle, K. (2010). Building innovation: Learning with technologies. Camberwell, Victoria: ACER. Retrieved September 12, 2015

NMC. (2015). Horizon report: 2015 K-12 edition. Retrieved September 30, 2015

Rosman, L., White, G.K. & Hoad, K. (2008). A digital education revolution : Realising the possibilities, managing the realities. Retrieved October 10, 2015

Thomas, D. & Seely Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky.: CreateSpace?.

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