As the new year dawns, several game-changing innovations are laying the groundwork for principals to make a lasting impact in their schools.
From the emergence of AI and machine learning in classrooms to the use of data analytics in faculties to better gauge teaching and learning outcomes, technology’s impact in Australian education is significant.
However, according to Mark Yaxley, director, ANZ at D2L, which runs the Brightspace LMS, the quantum leaps in education enabled by technology “remain in pockets of excellence”.
“Meanwhile, the pressures of grades and traditional ATAR attainment preoccupy lay pundits aligning to traditional modes of education, and stifle true innovation in the industry,” Yaxley told The Educator.
“Some of the truly inspirational work has been carried out at the margins, where students who have been failed by the traditional mould have found themselves supported by a more personalised approach, leveraging technology to support Big Picture learning frameworks, for example”.
The ’big picture’ model of education
Yaxley pointed to the success of the ‘big picture’ model that some schools in Australia and New Zealand have been adopting.
At Te Kura School in New Zealand, students approach problem-based learning from an angle which promotes the ability to achieve or demonstrate capability through an educational model or a project of interest.
This student allows students to explore new ideas, new progress, new thoughts and learnings associated with achieving the capabilities required for a higher year level and to be assessed against it. However, it also assesses on a project-based model where those capabilities are demonstrated throughout the year by the student.
Yaxley said this “inclusive model” follows students’ interests and it allows them to be an “active participant in their education”.
Meanwhile, at Silkwood School in Queensland, a Young Entrepreneur Scholarship offers students a real-world learning network of expert mentors who can work with young people on their passions and interests and develop their entrepreneurial thinking.
Statistics on Australia’s job market demonstrate why initiatives like this are so important.
Studies show that 65% of today’s school children are expected to graduate into jobs that do not exist today, with automation driving 375 million workers to switch occupational categories by 2030.
Top considerations for principals in 2020
For principals seeking to take their educational innovation to new heights in 2020, Yaxley said the enablement of real pedagogy and augmented human interaction should be top of mind.
“In recent conversations about CX [customer experience], I discussed the role of chatbots and AI; in my opinion, it is not technology that will meet CX expectations, but augmented human interaction that will be the gamechanger,” Yaxley said.
“In the same way, education will be advanced by the augmenting of the teacher-student relationship with technology to increase personalisation, enable complex personal learning pathways and foster true constructivist approaches embracing each student’s passion”.
Yaxley said mass education systems can only align to proven best practices with the use of technology to support teachers in this pursuit.
“We see it emerging with organisations like Te Kura and Silkwood, both of which are following a big picture model of education,” he said.
“Setting their school on this pathway of augmented, personalised teacher-student relationship should be the ‘front of mind’ consideration for all principals”.
As principals consider how to move from running simple workflows on their LMS to moving to a new level of tech augmented best practice, Yaxley said D2L will be consulting on key approaches to achieving capability multipliers in the classroom.
“These multipliers include data analysis and data-driven intervention and support, self-paced learning initiatives, and orientation to student-driven, outcome-based education,” he said.
“These elements take time to plan and set up but pay dividends in shifting the teacher administration around personalised learning, and free up the teacher to be a facilitator of a student’s own educational journey”.