Thanks to technology, today's workforce is constantly evolving. It is changing so quickly that a lot of the careers that our students will one day attain do not even exist yet. In order for students to be prepared for that future workforce, they need to become fluent and adaptable in technologies.
At Kingsgrove North High School, we understand this need and to address it one of our school goals is to create an environment that fosters true 21st century learning. This is a space designed around the 4 Cs: creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking, whilst also encompassing new technologies.
In recent years, we have witnessed a huge influx of technologies into schools. Smart boards, student laptops, bring your own device (BYOD) schools, online classrooms and educational apps are just some of the ways technologies have infiltrated the classroom. However, as we are now learning there is a balance that needs to be achieved, with a lot of schools now backing off from the amount of technology allowed in the classroom.
The idea is to engage, not entertain – so with every new piece of technology introduced it is important that we consider its holistic worth. Meaning that it shouldn't be all about the technology, we also need to focus on the classroom environment and teacher's pedagogies (the way we teach).
Many schools are now realising that if you can focus on these three areas: technology, environment and pedagogy, 21st century learning is attainable. The newly opened ‘tech room' is our latest response to this realisation.
The 'tech room' used to be known as BF1C and has gone through an extensive renovation process. It now contains a class set each of 30 Apple iPads and 30 Hewlett Packard touch screen notebooks as well as a brand new wireless short-throw projector with sound system and a large 3-metre whiteboard. Instead of regular desks, we chose circular tables to foster the 4 Cs and ergonomically designed chairs for comfort.
The room features a chalkboard wall that will have evolving eye-catching-inspirational quotes, thanks to ex-student Maryam Khan. The room can be booked by any teacher from any faculty for any class. Each teacher can pick and choose which technologies they want in order to achieve their lesson goals. A focus of our next professional development day will be pedagogies and technology where all staff will undergo training on the new technologies available and how to effectively incorporate this into their relevant curriculums. We are also working closely with Apple Broadway and are organising iPad training specific to each key learning area (KLA).
The response from the students so far has been incredibly positive, with most of them begging their teachers to book the room. The students are showing great pride in this room and treating it as their own. They are excited to be there and we have seen an increase in class participation and engagement in content whilst using the room. Year 12 student Ihsan Ismet said 'learning harder maths concepts in the tech room made it much easier for students to understand'.
As stated at the 21st century skills forum 2012 'our challenge now, as educators, will be to constantly adapt teaching and learning to new technologies and the demands of a global environment where knowledge and skills are the new global currency.' At Kingsgrove North High School we are well and truly addressing this challenge head on.