ELearning in Australian Classrooms - LiteracyPlanet

ELearning in Australian Classrooms - LiteracyPlanet
eLearning in Australian Classrooms

The world and the way children learn is changing.
Now is an exciting time for eLearning and digital innovation in schools. Technology has an important role to play in education and students’
readiness for the digital age. This report looks at the use of digital technologies in Australian schools, trends in eLearning, and the benefits of
effective digital classrooms in helping students develop 21st century skills.

Teaching Digital Natives
How Australia Compares
Innovation Nation
21st Century Skills
Recipe for Success
New Learning: Blended & Flipped
Top 5 eLearning Trends
Benefits of the Digital Classroom - Super 7
ELearning in Australian Classrooms - LiteracyPlanet
Teaching Digital Natives
Children start school today as ‘digital natives’. It’s a term coined by education consultant and author     “Today’s students think
Marc Prensky in 2001. In his papers ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ Part 1 and Part 2,1,2 Prensky     and process information
                                                                                                            fundamentally differently from
wrote that technology is ubiquitous in children’s lives and this has had a profound affect on the way       their predecessors.”
their brains function. ‘Digital natives’ think and process information fundamentally differently from
                                                                                                            - ‘Digital Natives, Digital
the previous generation. They have a different blend of cognitive skills and need new approaches to
                                                                                                            Immigrants,’ Marc Prensky, 2001.

Some of the practical differences Prensky uses to explain this is that ‘digital natives’ receive and
process information at ‘twitch-speed’; they parallel process and multi-task; they prefer graphics first,
text second; they function well when they’re networked; they want instant gratification and frequent
rewards; and gamification, rather than ‘serious’ learning, is a more effective way to reach them in their
‘native language’.

This year’s school starters have been dubbed by demographers as Generation
Alpha 3. They are the first generation of true digital natives. They have
been submerged in technology since they were born, which was the
same year the iPad was released, and they are ‘logged in and linked up’.
They start school with a natural aptitude for using digital resources and
devices, and will live through massive technological change, connected
to a device almost 24/7. They want and will benefit from technology-
rich learning environments.

                                                                                                            eLearning in Australian Classrooms, LiteracyPlanet • 2
ELearning in Australian Classrooms - LiteracyPlanet
How Australia Compares
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 4 79% of children aged 5-14
years use the internet, mostly for education, and just over 86% of those access     •     Average number of students per computer.
                                                                                          Global:                          (18)
it from school.
                                                                                          Australia:  (3)
                                                                                    •     Students using computers since they were 6.5
Comparative international studies into early-secondary school students’ use of            years old or younger.
ICT such as the ‘International Computer and Information Literacy Study,’ 5 last           Global average                       36%
                                                                                          Australian average                    50%
published in 2013, find that students in Australia are above average in ICT use
                                                                                    •     Students with basic software knowledge.
and Australia is one of the highest users of technology in school classrooms.
                                                                                          Global average                        84%
The OECD’s 2015 report, ‘Students, Computers and Learning - Making the                    Australian average                    94%
Connection,’ 6 found that every 15-year-old in Australia now has individual         •     Students who use computers as an information
access to a computer at school, and students in Australia show the most                   source.
                                                                                          Global average                        61%
advanced web-browsing skills.
                                                                                          Australian average                    76%
                                                                                          Students with knowledge and skills in ICT for
Studies also find however that there is work to be done to improve students’              information gathering.
proficiency and sophistication in using digital technologies. Only 4% of students         Global average                          23%
                                                                                          Australian average                      34%
in the ICILS 2013 study showed critical thinking when using online resources
and a 2014 National Assessment Program report into ICT Literacy 7 found a                 Students who use a computer at school at least
                                                                                          once a week.
decline in student computer literacy from the previous assessment. The Digital            Global average                       54%
Education Research Network’s review of the NAP’s findings 8 pointed out that              Australian average                   81%
maximising ICT requires more than simply using it: “Today’s students need to be
skilled in the use of information and communication technology (ICT), that is
they need to be able to effectively search and retrieve information, manipulate
images, develop online presentations, use ICT creatively and critically, design
                                                                                        From ‘ICILS 2013: Australian students’ readiness for
surveys, use a range of writing tools and even be able to code”.                        study, work and life in the digital age,’ ACER, 2014 9.

                                                                                                                  eLearning in Australian Classrooms, LiteracyPlanet • 3
ELearning in Australian Classrooms - LiteracyPlanet
Innovation Nation
To educate technologically-savvy learners, the education system needs government support to embrace,             “We need to support both students
                                                                                                                 and teachers in key areas of ICT
harness and master digital technologies. In the foreword to the 2010 Australian Council for Educational
                                                                                                                 competence and make Australia
Research report, ‘Building Innovation: Learning with technologies,’ 10 James Bosco wrote: “Innovation may        as digitally literate and creative as
well be the most important educational issue of the day” because “developments have resulted in a chasm          the other nations with which we
between the world of information, knowledge production and dissemination, and learning as it exists outside
of the schools, with what is happening within them”.                                                             - Australian Government,
                                                                                                                 National Innovation & Science
                                                                                                                 Agenda, 2015.
In 2013 the Australian Government’s Digital Education Advisory Group report, ‘Beyond the Classroom: A
New Digital Education for Young Australians in the 21st Century,’ 11 provided a roadmap for how Australia’s
education planners could meet this challenge, and ways to incorporate the use of digital technologies to
achieve high quality learning outcomes. It stated: “Achieving enhanced education outcomes in Australian
schools is increasingly linked to the pace of digital education uptake” and the future digital education
environment in Australia required: digital resources that support the Australian Curriculum and students’
development of 21st Century skills; strong leadership and capacity building in schools; and to extend learning
to encompass home, parents and other experts.

In 2015 Digital Technologies 12 was added as a subject in the Australian Curriculum
for Foundation to Year 10, to teach students skills in computational thinking
and information systems. The Australian Government also announced $51
million for school programs 13 to better equip students and teachers with skills
in digital technologies as part of its National Innovation & Science Agenda 14.

                                                                                                                 eLearning inSpecial
                                                                                                                                            by LiteracyPlanet, 2016. • 4
ELearning in Australian Classrooms - LiteracyPlanet
21st Century Skills
The Digital Education Advisory Group’s 2013 report 11 highlighted that the challenge for educators is to embrace and respond to “not just the
innovations in technology, but the extraordinary pace of change”. It states: “We need to harness the transformative potential of digital technology
to support new approaches to innovative learning centred around the development of 21st Century Learning skills”.

These skills have been defined into four broad categories:

   Ways of thinking                                                                            Tools for working
   Creativity and innovation; critical thinking; problem solving and                           Information literacy; information and communication
   decision making; learning to learn/metacognition (knowledge                                 technology (ICT) literacy.
   about cognitive processes).

   Ways of working                                                                             Living in the world
   Communication; collaboration (teamwork).                                                    Consciousness of being a local and global citizen; personal
                                                                                               and social responsibility.

Taken from: ’Defining Twenty-First Century Skills,’ in Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills, 2012 15.

Including digital technologies in the Australian Curriculum and the Government’s ‘innovation’ agenda is about a lot more than teaching students
to code. It’s about teaching them to think a certain way, and skilling them in computational thinking. It’s about teaching students to think
creatively and to problem solve; to develop 21st century skills that will serve them well in the digital age.

                                                                                                                                   eLearning in Australian Classrooms, LiteracyPlanet • 5
ELearning in Australian Classrooms - LiteracyPlanet
Recipe for Success
                                                                                                                           “We need technology in every
                                                                                                                           classroom and in every student and
                                                                                                                           teacher’s hand, because it is the pen
                                                                                                                           and paper of our time, and it is the
The positive impacts of ICT in classrooms correlates directly to how these resources are used, which is
                                                                                                                           lens through which we experience
highly dependent on the ICT skills, methods and teaching practices of teachers. Research finds that these                  much of our world.”
are strongest in well-resourced schools.
                                                                                                                           – David Warlick, educator, author
                                                                                                                           and software developer.
Confidence and competence of teachers in using digital technologies, and their accessibility to them,
are key factors to maximising the benefits they can bring to the classroom. As Bill Gates famously said:                   “Effective professional development,
“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is              sufficient time, and technical support
                                                                                                                           need to be provided for teachers…
most important”.
                                                                                                                           the presence of all components
                                                                                                                           increases the likelihood of excellent
The support of school leaders is also critical for the educational potential of ICT to be realised. Principals             integration of ICT in learning and
                                                                                                                           teaching opportunities.”
need to assume responsibility for initiating and implementing change. In ‘Building Innovation: Learning
with technologies’ 10 author Kathryn Moyle wrote: “Schools in the 21st century have to be oriented towards                 - ‘Barriers to the Successful
supporting technologies-enabled learning…Bringing about change at multiple levels within a school                          Integration of ICT in Teaching and
                                                                                                                           Learning Environments: A Review of
requires whole school approaches…School leadership is critical to bringing about the changes required”.                    the Literature’ (Bingimlas, 2009) 16.

    The work of education researcher Professor John Hattie and his ranking of influences 17 according to their effect sizes provides insights
    into how teachers and schools can make the most effective use of their ICT resources.

    The most                                 ICT contributes to a diversity of teaching strategies, and is a supplement to teacher instruction.
                                             There is teacher pre-training and professional development in the use of ICT.
    positive effect                          It is part of multiple opportunities for learning, with learner control, clear goals and instant feedback.
    on learning                              The student is in control, for example with time allocation, sequencing, choice of tasks and reviewing.
                                             Peer learning is optimised, by working in pairs and in heterogenous groups.
    is when:                                 Feedback is optimised, with explanation rather than simply providing the right answer.
    Taken from: ‘Making the most of ICT, what the research tells us,’ Terry Freedman, 2012 18.

                                                                                                                             eLearning in Australian Classrooms, LiteracyPlanet • 6
New Learning
Blended & Flipped
Most schools now implement blended learning, with a combination
of online and offline activities. One way of doing this that is growing in
popularity is flipped learning, made possible by access to online and
digital resources at home.

According to ABS research 85% of children 4 who access the internet
from home do it for educational purposes, and the NBN Digital
Parenting Report found in 75% of households 19 children use online
resources to learn at home, and take this learning to class.

In the flipped classroom students use homework time to prepare,
and class time for collaborative work, problem solving and addressing
difficulties. It is a new model for active learning, and a growing body of
research shows that flipped learning can lead to improved educational
outcomes. Flipped learning has been shown by research in the U.K. and
Australia to have a range of positive impacts on teaching and learning
practice, including improving students’ engagement, knowledge and
skills 20, and enhancing collaborative learning 21.

                                                                             eLearning in Australian Classrooms, LiteracyPlanet • 7
Top 5 eLearning Trends
Creating content for social media like blogs, videos and podcasts; using apps and software programs linked to the           “Teaching in the Internet age
curriculum; incursions that bring the experience into the classroom by video link; interactive smartboards; online          means we must teach tomorrow’s
discussion boards and virtual classrooms are just some of the creative and innovative ways teachers around Australia are    skills today.”
using technology. Now with proficiency the focus, we’re moving towards more sophisticated digital skills like building
                                                                                                                            – Jennifer Fleming, Associate
web sites and coding.
                                                                                                                            Professor, Department
                                                                                                                            of Journalism & Mass
These are the key trends in eLearning and the use of digital technologies in developed countries:                           Communication, California State

1   Game-based and gamified
     Learning skills through game
play, and the application of game
                                            2   Personalised
                                                  Tools that can address
                                            the needs and requirements of
                                                                               3    Mobile
                                                                                    With mobile devices, learning
                                                                               is accessible at any time and from           “A game is an opportunity to
                                            the individual. These resources    anywhere. Now, we hear about the term        focus our energy, with relentless
mechanics and elements to learning
                                            can be tailored to maximise        mLearning: eLearning that is mobile.         optimism, at something we’re
platforms. Includes interactivity, multi-                                                                                   good at (or getting better at) and
player modes, rewards, leaderboards,        learning outcomes for students     Education departments and schools
                                            of all abilities, from those who   have BYOD, ‘bring-your-own-device’,
challenges and immediate feedback.
                                            need extension to those with       policies to enable students to bring their   - Jane McGonigal, educator,
Gamification makes the learning
                                            learning needs and difficulties.   own personal mobile electronic devices       author and game designer.
experience fun and engaging for
                                            They can easily identify student   to school for the purpose of learning,
students, motivates them to achieve         needs and allow teachers to        and in many cases 1-to-1 laptop
and develops a mix of skills in addition    address these discretely.          programs provide students with their
to the core subject.                                                           own laptop for learning at school.           “Possibly one of the most
                                                                                                                            important shifts needed in schools
                                                                                                                            is to provide individualised and

4                                                     5
                                                                                                                            personalised learning experiences
     Adaptive                                              Augmented
                                                                                                                            to students.”
      Programs and resources that create, process          On-demand and dynamically tailored content that
and automatically deliver appropriate content.        augments the learning experience to stimulate discovery.
                                                                                                                            - Eric Sheninger, educator and
Examples include automated modes in learning          Examples include on-screen pop-up windows or sidebars,                author of Digital Leadership.
software, tasks curated by year level or type, and    touchscreens, QR codes, or supplementary video and audio.
tailored tests and quizzes. Content is generated      More immersive methods of augmented or virtual reality include
by the program scanning and pulling in content.       the use of glasses and headsets like Google Glass or Oculus Rift.

                                                                                                                            eLearning in Australian Classrooms, LiteracyPlanet • 8
Benefits of the Digital Classroom - Super 7
More and more schools and teachers in Australia are incorporating the use of technology into classroom teaching, and parents are increasingly expecting this
as part of schools helping to prepare their children for life and work in the digital age. According to LiteracyPlanet research 22, 95% of parents of primary school
children believe online education programs are important.

The National Digital Learning Resources Network 23 provides support and thousands of digital curriculum resources for schools. Education departments provide
practical information on effective ways to use digital technologies to enhance learning.

According to education researcher, lecturer and author Dr. Jane Hunter, Australia’s teachers and students are stepping up to the challenges of teaching and
learning effectively with digital technologies. Hunter writes 24 that teachers’ work in technology-enhanced learning in classrooms is exciting, showing good
progress, and the pace is hastening.

Teachers implementing appropriate use of technology and eLearning tools identify a range of practical benefits. These are the super seven:

1   Student engagement
     Digital technologies are fun. They
can be interactive, challenging and
                                            2    Flexibility
                                                 Online and digital tools
                                            can be easily adapted to suit
                                                                             3    Tailored learning
                                                                                  Being able to personalise the
                                                                             experience means that students
                                                                                                                       4     Data collection
                                                                                                                             Easy and reliable automatic online
                                                                                                                       data collection reduces the administrative
rewarding. When students are having         the full range of abilities in   can work at their own pace,               task. Digital technologies can track results
fun they’re often not even aware they       one classroom. Tasks can         and at the level that suits them.         and monitor student progress, making it
are learning. Positive and controlled       be assigned for selected         They can be empowered with                faster to identify learning weaknesses, and
online interactivity within a safe closed   students while others can        more independence and control,            easier to generate student reports.
network such as a class or year level       work self-guided. From           and challenged without feeling
also encourages healthy competition         learners who need extension      overwhelmed. It is particularly helpful
and collaboration. Gamified learning
tools provide students with instant
feedback and rewards, and motivate
                                            to those who need extra
                                            support, the experience
                                            can be adapted to suit each
                                                                             for differentiation and reduces the
                                                                             pressure students can feel to perform
                                                                             at the same level as others or at being
                                                                                                                        7    Psychological benefits
                                                                                                                             Engaging students in a positive and
                                                                                                                        innovative learning experience where they
them to continue.                           student.                         compared to classmates.                    feel they are achieving often has benefits
                                                                                                                        that are less about subject learning, and

5    More time Data collection and the
      option for student-driven learning
means administration time is reduced, and
                                                6    Home access Online-based tools make it easy to
                                                      supplement classroom learning at home. They also facilitate
                                                engagement for parents who want to be more involved in what
                                                                                                                        more to do with attitude and motivation.
                                                                                                                        Gamification in particular has been shown to
                                                                                                                        engage struggling or reluctant learners, and
teachers have more time and opportunity         their children are learning at school. Many tools feature an option     to improve their enthusiasm, confidence and
to attend to students who need it most.         to send parents progress reports directly.                              self-esteem.

                                                                                                                                  eLearning in Australian Classrooms, LiteracyPlanet • 9
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Further reading
1. ’Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’: Part I, 2001.                                                               13. ’Equipping students to create and use digital technologies,’ National Innovation & Science Agenda, Fact-
http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20                         sheet, Australian Government, 2015.
-%20Part1.pdf                                                                                                         http://www.innovation.gov.au/system/files/case-study/Factsheet%2019%20-%20Equipping%20students%20
2. ’Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’: Part II, 2001.
http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20                         14. National Innovation & Science Agenda, Australian Government, 2015.
-%20Part2.pdf                                                                                                         http://innovation.gov.au/system/files/case-study/National%20Innovation%20and%20Science%20
3. ’Australia’s second baby boom Generation Alpha, smarter, richer, healthier,’ news.com.au, June 2, 2013.
http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/australias-second-baby-boom-generation-alpha-smarter-                      15. ’Defining Twenty-First Century Skills,’ Binkley, M., Erstad, O., Hermna, J., Raizen, S., Ripley, M., Miller-
richer-healthier/story-fnet08ui-1226655064591                                                                         Ricci, M., & Rumble, M. In Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills, Griffin, P., Care, E., & McGaw, B.,
                                                                                                                      Dordrecht, Springer 2012.
4. ’Australian Social Trends June 2011, Children of the digital revolution,’ Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011.   http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-94-007-2324-5_2
LookupAttach/4102.0Publication29.06.117/$File/41020_Childrendigital_Jun2011.pdf                                       16. ’Barriers to the Successful Integration of ICT in Teaching and Learning Environments: A Review of the
                                                                                                                      Literature,’ Khalid Bingimlas, 2009.
5. ’International Computer and Information Literacy Study, ICILS 2013 Technical Report,’ International                http://www.ejmste.com/v5n3/eurasia_v5n3_bingimlas.pdf
Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, 2013.
http://www.iea.nl/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Electronic_versions/ICILS_2013_Technical_Report.                 17. Hattie Ranking: Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement, 2009.
pdf                                                                                                                   http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/

6. ’Students, Computers and Learning - Making the Connection,’ The Organisation for Economic Co-                      18. ’Making the most of ICT, what the research tells us,’ Terry Freedman, 2012.
operation and Development, 2015.                                                                                      http://www.ictineducation.org/home-page/2014/1/29/making-the-most-of-ict-what-the-research-tells-us.
http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/students-computers-and-learning_9789264239555-en                               html

7. ’National Assessment Program - ICT Literacy Years 6 & 10, Report, 2014,’ Australian Curriculum Assessment          19. ’NBN Digital Parenting Report,’ Colmar Bruton, 2015.
and Reporting Authority and National Assessment Program, 2015.                                                        http://www.nbnco.com.au/content/dam/nbnco2/documents/Digital%20Parenting%20Report_Final-FINAL.
http://www.nap.edu.au/verve/_resources/D15_8761__NAP-ICT_2014_Public_Report_Final.pdf                                 pdf

8. Research Reviews, ‘Australian students and ICT literacy,’ Digital Education Research Network, December             20. ’Flipped Learning, Research Report,’ National Foundation for Educational Research and Nesta, 2015.
2015.                                                                                                                 http://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/NESM01/NESM01.pdf
                                                                                                                      21. ’Enhancing Collaborative Learning in Flipped Classroom,’ Australian Journal of Basic and Applied
9. ’ICILS 2013: Australian students’ readiness for study, work and life in the digital age,’ Australian Council for   Sciences, February 2015.
Educational Research, 2014.                                                                                           https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Zamzami_Zainuddin/publication/275637932_Enhancing_
http://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=ict_literacy                                     collaborative_learning_in_flipped_classroom/links/5540b4650cf23222272f38de.pdf

10. ’Building Innovation: Learning with technologies,’ Kathryn Moyle, Australian Education Review; 56,                22. ’Study finds parents concerned about literacy development,’ LiteracyPlanet, 2014.
Australian Council for Educational Research, 2010.                                                                    http://www.literacyplanet.com/blog/archive/2014/11
                                                                                                                      23. National Digital Learning Resources Network .
11. ’Beyond the Classroom: A New Digital Education for Young Australians in the 21st Century,’ Digital                http://www.ndlrn.edu.au/default.asp
Education Advisory Group, 2013.
http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/deag_beyond_the_classroom_2013.pdf                                                   24. ‘’Click bait’ hijacks the real story about technology in Australian schools,’ EduResearch Matters, Dr Jane
                                                                                                                      Hunter, October 6, 2015.
12. Digital Technologies, v8.1 F-10 Curriculum, Australian Curriculum.                                                http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=1264

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