The education revolution
The digital revolution is sweeping the education system, providing teachers with greater access to information and changing the way students learn. Ten years ago, having a mobile phone in the classroom was roundly frowned upon, but today’s teachers are encouraging students to bring their mobile devices to school.
As classrooms move to embrace technology, the Australian Government is also moving towards a digital curriculum, with the National Digital Learning Resources Network connecting schools and facilitating the sharing of digital resources.
The trend towards digital learning was evident in a recent education white paper, with more than half of all student respondents saying that using a mobile device improved their learning outcomes. The report found that most students already own a mobile device and 70 per cent of the 726 primary, secondary and tertiary students surveyed were already using that device in an integrated learning environment.
It is the learner who is identifying value in mobile devices and moving ahead of education providers
Telstra’s mEducation – Mobility Enabling Personalised Learning report found learning has shifted away from the one-way instruction model of the past to become a more social and collaborative experience.
Report author Susi Steigler-Peters says the findings raise numerous questions around the role of mobile devices in learning spaces and what the digital shift means for educators.
“The clear message is that it is the learner who is identifying value in mobile devices and moving ahead of education providers. It’s a signal that learning is more democratised, more collaborative,” she says.
She says opportunities exist for education providers and businesses to work together to create a learning ecosystem that gives greater access to educational materials to students from all backgrounds.
She says partnerships between business and education services will have a flow on effect to the economy.
“Technology is driving immense and widespread behaviour shifts. If learning outcomes increase so too does the economic index.”
Digital revolution hits the classroom
As more classrooms become digital-first zones, there are also endless opportunities for development of educational apps.
There are currently more than half a million education apps available across the iOS, Android and Windows 8 platforms, with digital resources stretching across a range of subjects from languages and humanities to maths and science.
Phil Stubbs, director of education at Verso Learning, says technology in the classroom is about changing relationships among students and teachers, but also the fundamental relationship with knowledge.
Stubbs’ brainchild is the Verso mobile app – a platform that facilitates collaborative learning. Already in 1850 schools worldwide, including 550 in Australia, the app aims to break down learning barriers by using familiar technology, such as a smartphone, to take teachers and students on a journey of learning.
Verso allows the teacher to anonymously get visibility on students’ original thoughts and tailor their teaching around the individual’s needs.
“It’s about kids collaborating, co-constructing and communicating, and letting the teacher shift relationships with technology in the classroom through the use of technology.”
Stubbs adds that 21st century learning relies not only on delivering knowledge, but giving students a skill set that teaches them how to look for bias, plausibility and accuracy.
“Kids are digital natives and they are digitally confident, but they aren’t digitally competent. Any technology has to have key learning dispositions right through that.
“The surface-level learning – finding out about stuff – is great, but kids need to have access to diverse viewpoints and make those connections. It’s a case of, ‘If I live in a connected world, I need to know and understand how to be more connected’.”
The mEducation report notes that while mobile devices are influencing behaviours, there is still a huge scope for development in content, assessment and subject-specific apps.
“Until these questions are better understood – and we’re certain they will be – mobile technology will remain underutilised as an education tool,” the report states.
“Learners and teachers will be walking about with pocket rockets – powerful weapons of mass education, missing the fuel to drive lift-off.”