Preparing students for a tech-centric world

A tour of the school this week provided some key insights into how Ormiston College is a leader when it comes to ensuring its students and teachers are equipped with the skills required to stay ahead of the 21st century learning curve.

Tamara Sullivan, dean of e-learning at Ormiston, told The Educator that Ormiston has different processes and models to ensure that the school is supporting all learners, which includes both teachers and students.

“It’s important that we build capabilities in students so they can live and work successfully in the 21st century and beyond. We also know how important it is that we instil the same skillset in our teachers,” Sullivan said.

“Rather than focusing on policy and procedure, we look at what we call big ideas projects. Those projects have explicit links to one or more of the 21st century skills.”

To facilitate this, Ormiston College created the Learning Innovations Leadership Committee, fully integrating ICT into its curriculum. Now, children in Year 1 are using Minecraft to enhance their understanding of architecture, mathematics and design.

Similarly, students in Years 5 and 8 are collaborating via programs like One Note, which allows the teacher to set up a read only section, a collaborative space and a private personal section for each student.

Deborah Ponting, head of the centre for learning and innovation explained that One Note allows teachers to see all of their students’ personal sections, whilst the students only see their own section.

When Ormiston redesigned its library space to create what it now calls its learning innovation centre, students were given eight open-space seating areas to collaborate and build on one another’s knowledge.   

Peter Hoens, head of the English department, explained how the use of programs like Mosaic, Excel, Yammer and Office Mix to provide teachers with more options when it comes to finding the right time and place to engage in professional learning.

“Through the use of online modules, we’re providing opportunities for staff to engage in professional learning at a time and in a place that works for them,” Hoens said.

“Whether it’s a teacher who does this in one of their spare lessons, an insomniac who engages with it at 2am or a teacher who chooses to do it on a Sunday afternoon on their back deck with a beer in their hand, the point is that teachers are being given that freedom of choice.”

As part of Ormiston’s Learning Innovations Leadership Committee, teachers redefine the skills students need outside of school and then encourage them to harness these skills through programs such as Robotics real world problem solving and global collaborative tasks.

Sullivan said she believes collaboration is the key to academic development and that technology is the tool that achieves this.

“Once our students leave Ormiston, they will have the necessary skills required in today’s tech-centric world to actively contribute and be part of the broader community.”