29 Aug 2013
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Software helps students catch their dreams

By Rebecca Wood

Careers teaching has long been about opening students eyes to different careers but, with a New Zealand-developed web-based tool, students can take charge of their own destiny.

When careers teacher Jane Doherty first started teaching, her tools included yearly worksheet questionnaires for senior students, a filing cabinet, and paper-based lessons with resources from a number of different sources. It was a system that was both cumbersome and extremely inefficient.

After talking with other careers’ advice providers and finding they weren’t interested in modernising the approach to delivering careers advice, Doherty decided to take matters into her own hands. And, after some trial and error, DreamCatcher was born.

DreamCatcher is a web-based tool that gives students the tools, ideas, contacts and structure for their thoughts to make informed decisions and foster ownership of their future. It pulls a large number of student-centred pastoral care systems together in one place.

“Career development is finally receiving the recognition of importance within our education system,” says Doherty.

“As a result, careers staff are being asked to provide a school-wide service, which is near to impossible using traditional methods of one-on-one career counselling with one staff member to 1300 students.”

This is where DreamCatcher comes into its’ own. It is online, with each individual student profile sitting within their own school.

DreamCatcher provides an in-depth range of resources available at the teachers’ finger tips, which means the delivery of career development no longer comes from an eclectic group of resources that teachers have to pull together for days before going into a classroom.

“Most importantly, DreamCatcher has simplified delivery so that any teacher can feel confident enough to facilitate career development to their own classes unlike the past with only one person able to deliver what is required,” says Doherty.

Students themselves can access an extensive list of relevant career tools in one space, and their subject selection and level of education is linked directly to possible career choices. In addition students can request targeted communication through text, message and email, based on their career research, and parents can access the system to encourage further communication about their children’s interests.

And, as well as helping students catch their own dreams, Doherty has her own for DreamCatcher.

“Ideally, career development supported by DreamCatcher should be available in all secondary and intermediate schools in New Zealand transferring student profiles through to tertiary providers to help create a seamless approach for each individual,” she says.

See www.dreamcatcher.school.nz for more information.

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