Innovating Education Through Technology

2 weeks ago

It is an exciting time to be working in education. As Director of Information & Technology Services, I have witnessed at first hand the introduction of various life-changing technologies including our first connection to the Internet back in 1992. Our network at the time consisted of a small hub with approximately 30 computers connected across the school. Since that time the evolution of technologies has grown exponentially to the point that Tintern Grammar now has a school-wide fibre network including wireless access supporting more than 2,000 device connections on a daily basis. Earlier this year when our school lost access to the internet due to a major disruption in our electricity supply the biggest issue was not the lack of lighting or heating in the classrooms but the lack of connection to the digital world. It was a strange teaching day mostly challenged by the loss of our connectivity the internet which is now the norm.

Fast forward to 2018 when we will welcome our youngest learners into ELC that have never known a world without technology. Most will have started their lives with iPads and Smart Phones and will be we aware of how to operate them in terms of accessing and using their favourite apps. Back in 1983, Steve Jobs wanted to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes… with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything”.  What a difference a single individual has made to your lives and to the lives of our children.

While the array of technologies available are life changing in countless ways, many of these devices are used by our students to consume products and services. Over the last 10 years the digital maker community has been raising awareness for the need to take control of how our world will operate in a digital future. Makerspaces have sprung up across the globe and schools have embraced this ‘hands-on let’s create’ approach. This has been empowering news for the education community and together with the recent introduction of the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum, schools in Australia now have a formal platform to take the creating of digital products and solutions to the next level.

The making of things has long been an important part of a Tintern education. When Southwood first opened in 1999 Design Technology was part of a rotating core program and is now taught in both our boys and girls Middle Schools. In our Junior Schools many elements of Design Technology are incorporated into various year level programs. Check out the clocks made by our Year 5 girls in Art last term including one they made of the Junior School library. In our Middle School we have run a number of technology electives including 3D PrintingBuild your own appsAnimation & Film MakingMusic Technology and even Build a PC. While these technology electives have always been popular, access has been limited to students in those classes. With the need for schools to ensure that all students from Foundation to Year 12 are digitally literate and capable of creating their own digital solutions, it was a timely decision for Tintern to launch the STEAM Centre initiative in June this year.

The STEAM Centre will be a place for students from Prep to Year 12 to explore their creativity in a digital environment. While students will use this space during class times they will also have access outside of those times (before and after school and lunchtimes) to equipment such as a laser cutter and 3D printer. In 2018 we will be looking to invite technology experts into the school to run digital technology workshop as part of an after-school program for students and staff. Alongside this program we also want to encourage our own students, who have skills in the digital making space, to share with others. There will be opportunities through the CAS Program (Years 11-12 IB) as well as the Year 10-12 Community Service Program for Senior students to use The STEAM Centre as a place to share their skills across the year levels. This also means welcoming parents with experience using various technologies to support our after-school programs in their area of interest. We were truly fortunate to have two parents involved in our Robotics Programs in Terms 2 & 3 this year.  With a key goal of The STEAM Centre to broaden student opportunities to get involved in the creation of digital solutions it is truly an exciting time to be in education.

by Sue Healey, Director of Information & Technology Services