As a part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, ACARA has been funded to support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged schools.
ACARA will soon commence training eight Digital Technologies specialists, who will travel to low socio-educational level schools in each state and territory as a part of the Digital Technologies in Focus project, providing support and expertise to primary and secondary school teachers.
One hundred and sixty schools with a low ICSEA (index of community socio-educational advantage) rating have been invited to participate in the project. From July 2017, leaders and teachers from these schools will participate in workshops to support the implementation of Digital Technologies subject within their schools.
In 2018, the Digital Technologies specialists will conduct regional professional learning workshops with teachers and school leaders. These workshops will be customised to the specific needs of participating schools, with webinars and online mentoring complementing face-to-face events.
ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, said it was particularly important that the Digital Technologies specialists work collaboratively with schools to address their specific, individual needs and focus on ‘tackling the digital divide’.
“We need to ensure that students most at risk of falling behind in the digital age are given opportunities to participate and engage,” Mr Randall said.
“Our 2014 report into the National Assessment Program – Information and Communication Technology Literacy assessments showed a significant decline in the mean performance of both Year 6 and Year 10 students between the 2011 and 2014 assessments. This decline is highly concerning as it illustrates a pressing need for students to learn about, and work with, traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies that shape the world we live in.”
Mr Randall believes the initiative would provide a valuable professional development opportunity for teachers to strengthen their skills in Digital Technologies, with professional learning and leadership workshops, support materials and ongoing online support provided by ACARA.
“Through this project, school leaders and teachers will develop their Digital Technologies knowledge, understanding and skills, and in turn, students’ computational thinking and ICT capability should enhance,” Mr Randall said.
“Our Digital Technologies specialists are skilled teachers with intimate understanding of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. By sharing their valuable knowledge, we can better support students’ digital learning outcomes in some of the most disadvantaged schools in our country.”