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Careers in Teaching and Education
The use of mobile or digital technologies has the
capacity to transform teaching. SUE GOSS reports.
Year seven Wesley students use a combination of laptops with ICT programs and traditional materials for
The twenty-first century has seen a
surge in the use of technology in
schools. Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) usually
involves the use of computers, programs
and networks for teaching and learning.
But education is now moving into
another potentially more exciting era.
''The use of mobile or digital
technologies has the capacity to
transform teaching,'' says Dr Gerald
White, principal research fellow at the
Australian Council for Educational
''Mobile phones and e-readers such as
i-pads and Kindle --- if used properly by
both teachers and students --- hold the
key to future learning.
''An e-reader, for example, has the
capacity to enable students to store a
large number of textbooks on just one
device. It allows them to communicate
and collaborate, share and reference,
show creativity and innovation, provide
depth of research, enquiry and design. So
far, few students are utilising all these
possibilities. Marketing only emphasises
the social uses so that is often what
students do with digital technology.''
The difference is in teaching. One of
the most significant factors in student
learning is the quality of teaching and
the teacher. Therefore their skills in
modelling the use of digital technologies
is essential for student learning.
''If teachers are engaged with
technology and use it appropriately then
the students will copy,'' explains Dr
White. ''Creative teacher use of digital
technologies and ICT gives the use of
technology in education more credibility;
limited use makes students suspicious. So
we must provide excellent professional
learning for teachers to ensure they use
technology with expertise.''
Dr White runs the Digital Education
Research Network (DERN) for ACER.
Studies are now emerging that young
people who are using digital social
networking services such as Facebook
have reduced their academic
achievement, probably because of its
distractibility. However, other research
from the OECD says that students who do
use internet technology appropriately
are performing better.
''This widens the gap,'' says Dr White.
''We must ensure that all students are
taught thoroughly how to use digital
technologies for learning. This means a
high degree of focus on educating
teachers because there is a radical change
occurring in the way classrooms and
learning programs need to be set up. In
the past, we had books. Today, much
shared information is electronic. A book
on climate change from 2008 will now be
partly out of date.''
Richard Riley, Secretary of Education
under President Clinton, said 'We are
currently preparing students for jobs that
don't yet exist . . . using technologies that
haven't yet been invented . . . in order to
solve problems we don't even know are
problems yet.' This is the preface in a
recently published book called Twenty-
First Century Skills: Learning for Life in
our Times (Bernie Trilling and Charles
Fadel). It was written in 2008, published
in 2009 and Dr Gerald White is reading it
now in 2010.
''It is an excellent framework but a few
things are already out of date,'' he says.
''The enormous growth of educational
applications for digital technologies such
as e-readers was possibly not so clear in
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