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Schools need to be ready for the tsunami of 'digital change'

By Shannon Williams, Wed 12 Aug 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Pakuranga College in Auckland will be exploring the key issues facing schools when implementing eLearning/BYOD programmes with an ELearning summit.

Running over three consecutive afternoons from Wednesday 19th to Friday 21st August, Unpak eLearning Summit is designed to support Auckland schools in developing effective eLearning programmes in their school communities. The free summit is run in conjunction with several businesses and government agencies.

The summit aims to promote the educational opportunities of an effective eLearning / BYOD programme, as well as the importance of a teaching and learning-focused eLearning philosophy.

The summit will discuss the importance of professional development in delivering effective teaching and learning programme, and have a focus on modern learning teaching practices that can be applied in the classroom environment, as well as modern learning tools that can support practice.

It also aims to support schools on their eLearning journey by sharing Pakuranga College’s own story ‘warts and all’.

The summit will support key staff in delivering on their roles within their school environment, and focus  on the development of fundamental infrastructure (network, professional development, teaching and learning) needed for an effective eLearning programme.

 “eLearning is not just simply flooding schools with technology –- it’s far more complex if you want to do it effectively, engage learners and improve student outcomes along the way,” explains Allistair Williamson, organiser and eLearning coordinator at Pakuranga College.

“It requires a significant mind-shift for our teachers and courageous strategic leadership from our school principals,” he says.

Williamson  says the digital journey at Pakuranga College started back in 2010 with the introduction of digital classes in Year 9.

“As a result, we’re regarded as ‘experienced’ and are often approached by a number of schools, many of whom are just starting on their own digital journey, and are keen to see what effective eLearning looks like,” he says.

“Over the last five years we’ve learnt a lot and we felt it’s a good time that we shared our journey, both the highs and the lows, with the education community at an eLearning summit,” Williamson continues. “We’re hoping that the three days will bring together a number of schools, all keen to make a digital, courageous, but informed leap into the future.”

Deputy Principal Billy Merchant says education is currently exposed to one of the most dynamic periods of change in history, saying the introduction and advancement of technology is the major driving force that is shaping young people today and influencing what’s happening in the classroom.

“These tech savvy students now entering our education system want their school experience to be a rich multi-media experience, filled with connections and social media,” Merchant says. “Paper workbooks and teachers who stand and lecture from the front of the classroom no longer connect with the rich digital experience that most young people use in their daily lives.”

He says, “Students in our intermediate schools have never known education, or life, without technology and devices. Data from a recent Ofcom survey in the UK revealed that our current 10 year olds have more technical skill and knowledge than our current 16 year olds.

“The evolution of technology in education is rapid and our schools and teachers need to be ready for the tsunami of digital change.”

In addition to making use of its own internal expertise, the school has enlisted the support of a number of partners in presenting key ideas and learnings at the event. These include New Era IT, Fuji Xerox and Sitech Technologies and Core Education.

The summit will also feature a key presentation by Richard Thornton from the NZQA regarding the future of digital assessment in NCEA.

“The pace of change within the digital space is increasing at a rapid rate – none of which will be a surprise to you,” Thornton says. “At NZQA, our job is to ensure that qualifications are credible and robust, so that learners can qualify for the future world.

“For qualifications to remain relevant within rapid technological change, NZQA is also charges with moving into digital assessment,” he explains. “We have been exploring this space over the past couple of years and are keen to share our plans for 2015 with you.”

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