With the end of the school year fast approaching, principals and heads of departments are using the lead-in to Christmas to think about next year’s curricula.
In response to economics experts recently noting that “more migrants are coming to Australia right now, on a net, per capita basis, than to any other major advanced country”, multicultural education advocates want to see more emphasis on using technology to bridge the accessibility gap among students in the new school year.
This also extends to primary and secondary students with a disability – which, according to 2020 Federal Government figures, is estimated to be 10% of the school-age population.
Carlo Ruiz-Matthyssen is a senior leader with over 35 years of experience in the education and technology sectors. His expertise in the fields of cybersecurity, data protection, and data privacy has been central to his role at Campion Education, where he spearheaded the company’s eLearning and IT strategy, and created the innovative MyConnect2 platform.
According to Ruiz-Matthyssen, there needs to be a nuanced approach to technology – rather than a move between extremes, as was done recently in Sweden.
In August, Sweden’s Education Minister announced a plan to reverse a previous policy that made digital devices mandatory in preschools. The country’s education system plans to go even further and completely end digital learning for children under age six.
“A nuanced approach to technology in classrooms refers to the balanced use of digital and non-digital technologies. There is no one way to do this, and individual schools should determine how this mix fits in with their curricula,” Ruiz-Matthyssen told The Educator.
“The key point is that technology continues to evolve, and while it’s easy to breathlessly react to innovations [such as ChatGPT], educators can take elements that work best for them and their students.”
Ruiz-Matthyssen says part of a practical approach is about ensuring that learning resources are designed for the students who use them.
“The resources that are used in a metropolitan school may be different to those in a regional, rural or remote school,” he said.
There can also be variations across year levels, Ruiz-Matthyssen noted.
“Students in years seven and eight might have more of a digital emphasis while more autonomy might be given to senior students to decide which option works best for them,” he said.
“What remains timeless is the human element represented by the teacher or instructor, who is there to facilitate and to guide.”
Catering for linguistic diversity
Campion Education assist parent communities across Australia with support on how to order in some of Australia’s most-spoken non-English languages: Chinese, Arabic, Urdu, Vietnamese, Sinhala and more to come.
The organisation’s MyConnect eBook platform provides access to interactive resources that benefit different learning styles and includes Read Aloud, a feature in which highlighted text is read out in an Australian accent – supporting students with literacy and learning difficulties and international students.
Ruiz-Matthyssen said it is becoming increasingly important for schools to take parents with English as a second language into consideration as key stakeholders in their children’s education.
“One of the most important reasons to give an educational voice to parents with English as a second language is that each schooling community stands to gain from the reciprocal learning that can take place,” he said.
“Principals can proactively seek ways to understand how other languages may add value to curricula, beyond simply trying to translate and interpret. In other words, catering for linguistic diversity is not about ticking boxes – it’s about striving to include all students no matter their starting points and providing universal access to education.”