Teachers and students in NSW state schools are being supplied with new digital training to help them cope with the incorporation of IT and digital media in the education sector.
According to the director of the NSW Department of Education and Training's Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre (CLIC) , Raju Varanasi, the influx of laptops and applications into classrooms under the Federal Government's Digital Education Revolution (DER) was forcing teachers to become much more computer literate and active consumers.
"Teachers used to be passive consumers of content," Varanasi said of the teaching sector prior to the DER. "…There was a little bit of interactivity but by and large, teachers consumed passively."
When the DER provided a laptop to NSW students in years nine to 12 and CLIC upgraded its network infrastructure, Varanasi said the opportunity was there to deploy software allowing teachers to overcome the fear factor often associated with a digital environment.
“It was a combination of a number of things happening at the same time,” he said. “The digital education revolution was number one, and two, we had a fantastic upgrade of our network…and we wanted a solution that was more integrated with the networks in our schools.”
CLIC formed a partnership with Adobe, and rolled out Acrobat Pro, Premiere Elements, Photoshop Elements and Dreamweaver across the department, with the programs used to create online tutorials and digital materials.
"At the beginning, many teachers were unsure what to do with the equipment they received," Varanasi said. "So we aimed to quickly provide a set of digital materials with strong links to the existing classroom curriculum to get each year group accustomed to using digital resources."
Varanasi said CLIC's teaching and learning exchange portal has eased the fears of teachers working in the state system, with teacher and student now working together on projects.
"The same teacher now is not a passive consumer but a co-creator...the teaching style has changed and the teachers are now making the students the active contributors," Varanasi said. "When the end user has more power and say in the process, it's another way to innovate in the education space."
While Varanasi said it was too early to tell what impact the rollout will have on the long term learning of students, he did say that he was confident it would be positive.
CLIC's digital success comes as My School 2.0 was rolled out by the Gillard government last month.
“Changes in learner engagement and while it’s too early to claim learner attainment…time will tell and we are very confident.”
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