The essential elements that are often referred to as 21st century education include collaboration, communication, creativity and innovation and critical thinking. It is clear that students who have developed these skills during their time at school are far more likely to achieve success at work. Integrating 21st century skills into the teaching of all school subjects is a win-win proposition for everyone involved. Engaging students, in their own learning, through the use of technology has proven to have a very positive effect on overall academic performance. Encouraging our students to take more control of their learning can be effective, motivating, and enjoyable.
Students in Catholic schools have a wide variety of opportunities to develop 21st century skills, using technology as part of their learning. They are able to engage with their teachers, peers and the world community using a whole range of web 2.0 tools. In addition to this, the CSO supports a number of ICT project and initiatives across both primary and secondary schools. These include:
- Virtual Learning Environments provided by MNLive and Gate21
- High quality teaching resources that include Scootle and Atomic Learning
- Video conferencing to bring students together on a regional, state, national and international level
- Ensuring students are safe when working in the online world by providing a wide range of cybersafety resources.
Digital Education Revolution
The Digital Education Revolution (DER) is an Australian Government initiative which aims to contribute meaningful and sustainable change to teaching and learning in Australian schools that will prepare students for further education, training and to live and work in a digital world. The program is focused on students in Years 9-12.
Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle have developed implementation plans that aim to address the 4 DER "strands for change":
- Leadership: equipping school leaders to understand the potential of ICT and to plan and lead change
- Teacher Capability: professional development opportunities to equip teachers with the necessary skills to design and deliver 21st century learning programs
- Learning Resources: online and electronic resources designed to assist students achieve learning outcomes
- Infrastructure and Devices: establishing core infrastructure (e.g. servers, storage, wireless) and provide students with 1:1 access to devices.
A key element of DER in secondary schools in our diocese is the "1:1 Laptop Program". This program provides all students in Years 10, 11 and 12 with anywhere, anytime access to a personal laptop which allows each pupil space for personalised, flexible learning beyond the classroom walls. Students are provided with a commercial-grade, high-end laptop with superior durability and extended battery life that they have 24/7 access to. The ‘1:1 Laptop Program’ is a shared-cost model with majority funding provided by the Australian Government and parent contribution to facilitate take-home access.