Workshop aims to boost tech skills

Workshop aims to boost tech skills
If there’s one demographic that understands the latest in technology, it is teenagers.

However, when it comes to learning how this technology can be applied to the workplaces they’ll enter when they leave school, these students expect their teachers to be equipped with the right knowledge and skills.

Unfortunately, research shows that many Australian teachers lack competence when it comes to digital skills, meaning that students are often left in the lurch.

In an effort to improve their own education in this crucial area, 65 teachers are converging at the CQUniversity Brisbane campus this week to get a crash course in robotics, wearable technology and virtual/augmented reality.

The ‘Weaving Technology into the Fabric of the Classroom’ workshop will show participants how to these technologies can be used more directly to support teaching in the classroom.

The workshop for primary and secondary school teachers is supported by a Google CS4HS grant and hosted by The CREATE Lab and CQUniversity’s Centre for Professional Development.

Dr Michael Cowling, from CQUni, told The Educator about some of the factors that motivated the creation of the workshop.

“The workshop was motivated by a mantra I’ve been promoting for the last couple of years, which is ‘pedagogy before technology’,” Dr Cowling said.

“This mantra encourages teachers to start with a pedagogy problem to solve, detail that problem, and then look at technology solutions to solve that problem.”

Dr Cowling said that in order to do this, teachers need to be exposed to a variety of different technologies and how they might work in the classroom.

“We envisioned the workshop as a way to do this via a set of rotating hands-on sessions for teachers in mixed reality, robotics, and wearable technology, all of which are up-and-coming technologies that are starting to make their way into schools,” he said.

“Since we are only introducing each technology briefly, the hands-on sessions are looking at ways to incorporate these technologies without having to learn a whole new system, by using existing apps wherever possible and simplified development environments.”

However, Dr Cowling said CQUni is also giving teachers exposure to higher level mixed reality and robotics technology.

“This will enable them to learn more advanced topics like the Unity 3D programming environment if they’d like to, led by mixed reality expert Dr James Birt from Bond University,” he said.

“We are also underpinning all of this with an approach to open educational resources promoted by Dr Carina Bossu from the University of Tasmania, as well as my mantra of pedagogy before technology, and teaching teachers how they might use this framework to think about how the technology would be weaved effectively into the fabric of the classroom.”

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