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The Technology is Already Here

How does your classroom grow?

Is it all, "Silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row," as the nursery rhyme said? Or is your ideal seamless technology in flexible spaces used to create targeted, rich and relevant, connected learning accessible to all as needed?

"But I have no pot of gold", some might say. "Everyone feels more comfortable with more traditional methods," is a frustration for many, "not just parents, but the media, school administration, NAPLAN advocates, 'educational experts'."

Before you protest, think about your students. Every Year 12 student has grown up with the internet. Yet even twins are unlikely to be identical learners.

How much of what goes on in your classroom uses the advantage of continually developing computer technology to build on what students already know and can do? How much of that has been carefully tailored to meet each learner’s particular needs?

Classrooms might look a bit different from when I went to school – a bit larger, lighter furniture that can be moved to allow group work, wireless connection – but do they really function any differently?

Although I read Don Tapscott’s Growing Up Digital in the late 1990’s, one particular anecdote is vividly with me still. It was the story of the preschooler encouraged by his father to learn about science, alongside him on his computer. They conducted ‘experiments’ about how quickly ice-blocks melted on black compared with white tiles in their sunroom. I wondered how much of a starting point this was for that preschooler's teachers when he started school. Sadly, I still wonder about the same thing today.

Seamless technology can now provide teachers with ways of profiling students’ learning and characteristics, even before they meet them, so that programs can be planned to meet rather than miss student needs.

Our world needs more young scientists, creative artists, thinkers, leaders and collaborators. Schools largely already have the technology to support their development. It’s time for schools to focus on using it more effectively.

Barbara Stone AM

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