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Teachers become students in digital technology

Schools

Robots, algorithms and coding were just some of the topics covered when teachers from 12 Catholic schools gathered for a professional learning day on digital technologies and STEM last month.

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The Australian curriculum now mandates that the Digital Technologies curriculum is taught and assessed in all states and the conference highlighted the importance of educators to provide creative learning environments for students where life skills such as creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and working collaboratively are nurtured and developed.

More than 140 teachers from Nazareth Catholic College (primary and secondary), Nazareth Early Childhood Centre, Whitefriars School, Dominican School, Galilee Catholic School, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Saint Francis of Assisi School, Our Lady of the Visitation School, Saint Ignatius College, St Joseph’s Hindmarsh, as well as independent school St Andrews at Walkerville attended the development day.

Hosted and run by Nazareth at its Findon campus, the conference was opened by Neil McGoran, director of Catholic Education SA, who said it was a “wonderful showcase of Catholic Education’s commitment to cultivating the new Digital Technologies curriculum”.

Teachers participated in hands-on practical activities led by expert practitioners using robots, algorithms and coding. They also had the opportunity to direct their learning by choosing from a range of master classes including 3D printing, coding in the Early Years, understanding algorithms, integrating digital technology into literacy and Scratch. The event concluded with practitioners from similar year levels across the region sharing their experiences and resources.

“This was a unique opportunity for authentic collaboration to occur throughout our region and our sector,” said conference leader Emma Fowler, who is the learning coordinator of digital technology at Nazareth primary.

“It’s imperative for our children to develop their skills in the digital space, they are born into a world where technology is normal. It is us, as adults, who need to continuously comprehend the pace that digital change occurs and it’s important for us to continue to upskill ourselves in this space,” she added.

Teachers attending the conference said they were inspired by what they learnt.

“Today has really shown the spectrum of teaching digital technology. From iPads and robots, to pen and paper, no matter what resources are available to our students there are coding and algorithm activities that we can implement in our lessons,” said Sharmaine Gawley, an Early Years teacher at St Joseph’s Hindmarsh.

“The highlight for us has been the hands on aspect of the day,” added Claire Pecker and Sophie Mihelios from Immaculate Heart of Mary School.

“The conference was a great opportunity to work with other staff members from different regions and different schools within Catholic Education. It has been good to consolidate all the positive things we are doing in each of our schools and to know we are heading down the right track with rolling out the digital technologies curriculum.”

Plans are now underway to hold the conference in the Port Pirie diocese and country regions.

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