The future is now – so why are we lagging behind?


Over the past couple of days Kerrie Foord, our Assistant Principal, and I have been privileged to be at the Future Schools Conference in Sydney.To say that I am feeling mentally stretched is an understatement. After what I have seen happening out there in schools across Australia and the globe, my conclusion is, that for some schools, we are not really talking about the future … we are talking about the here and now.

But some of us are not even close to being caught up with the times yet and there is a huge divide between the haves and the have nots; but this divide is not necessarily about money to buy equipment – this divide comes because, as Paul Hamilton (@PaulHamilton8) says, we have the people whose attitude is ‘yes but’ and those who say ‘yes and …’. These ‘yes and’ innovative teachers are needed in our schools to encourage others. They are the ones who will encourage us to integrate technology into our lessons that align with our Key Learning Area outcomes. They are the ones who will inspire us to be creative with our use of digital technologies, to improve our ICT general capabilities so that we can play, learn, communicate and collaborate.

As I sat, feeling inspired, challenged and awed at all I was seeing and hearing I wished that every teacher from our school and every school in Australia could be there to see what was possible – is possible using digital technologies. It needs a real ‘This is important! We can do it!’ attitude.

Someone with this ‘I can and I will do it’ resolve is Anne Mirtschin (@murcha) who teaches in a small rural school in Victoria. Using what resources she has at hand and by making connections with teachers throughout the world through media like Twitter, she has helped her students to become global citizens. Anne is a great example of, ‘where there is passion there is a way’.

The ‘Young Learners Conference’ has caused us to have a hard look at what we are doing in our school. We are not yet a ‘future school’ and we as a staff are nearly all ‘Early Learners’ in this area. As the new Digital Technologies Curriculum is eventually rolled out, we will need to look at the outcomes and make sure that our older students can meet the early outcomes before we teach the later ones. We can’t assume that they have the expected skills and knowledge; just because they are consumers, we can’t be sure that they have enough knowledge to be adept at creating digital solutions and using the potential of the systems in place.

File_000 (1)
Paula Christophersen from the Digital Technologies Curriculum Manager at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority explains the Digital Technologies Curriculum

So, what can I take back to our school from this?

  1. Our teachers and students need to be encouraged to access technology wherever possible in their learning to increase levels of engagement and to learn its purpose.
  2. We need a clearly planned scope and sequence with Digital Technologies so that we are incorporating the knowledge and skills in all the KLAs.
  3.  Our staff need to be able to access regular professional development in Digital Technologies that is at their level and useful to them and their students.
  4. We need to learn and teach ‘coding’ to prepare our students to think computationally and creatively.
  5. Our teachers and our students need time to play, experiment and learn together using digital technologies.
  6. Our internet and computers need a major update. Without a fast reliable internet and computers that support modern platforms there is frustration and a reluctance to use the technology that we do have, in our lessons.

Attending this Future Schools Conference has opened my eyes to what passionate and creative educators are achieving with young learners and technology. Throughout the conference I tweeted out some of what I was learning in the hope that other teachers at our school and beyond would be following, learning and catching the passion with me.

I would like to thank the organisers and presenters who came from near and far for sharing their expertise and creativity.

Credits go to:

Dr Kari Stubbs ( @karistubbs) Meaningful Learning through Digital Play

Paul Hamilton (@ Paul Hamilton8)) Transforming Teachers into Technology Driven Innovators 

Samantha Lind Creating 21st Century Learners 

Meredith Ebbs (@iMerinet) Getting Started with Coding at K-2 Classrooms

Anna Kinnane, Grant Baker and Paula Christophersen – The Panel – Embracing the NEW Digital Technologies Curriculum 

Anne Mirtschin (@murcha) Learning Adventures in the Connected Classroom 

Jennie Magiera (@MsMagiera) Power of the Pupil 

Gail Lovely (@glovely) Early Learning Technologies Playground: Robots, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Real Learning

Kate Highfield (@KateyTwit) Creators or Consumers? Media and Technology in Learning and Play 

Michelle Meracis (@MichelleMeracis) KidzTek: Full STEAM Ahead in the Early Years Classroom 

Nicola Flanagan (@nicashgrove)  Catering for the Young Innovators of the Future: Aligning the technology, curriculum and pedagogy 

Kristine Kopelke and Sally Gower from Meridan SS ; Creating digital construction zones for young learners 

Catherine Newton (@mrsnewton) Leveraging technology to build a learning community 

File_000 (2)
                   Australian Technology Park, Redfern Sydney National FutureSchools Expo                                  photo courtesy of Jennie Magiera @MsMagiera 



7 thoughts on “The future is now – so why are we lagging behind?

  1. I like the “yes, and” response. With the six learnings that you are taking back to your school, I think #6 must be one of the most important. Teachers and students need access to better technologies and faster internet speeds. I have been out of the classroom for a few years, but when I was there we had few computers, all of which were outdated and clunky, very little quality software to use and slow internet speeds. If we want to teach digital technologies to future world citizens, we must at least be up-to-date, not lagging behind.
    I’m really disappointed that I am missing out on this exciting step into the 21st century. As I often say, ‘born too soon’!


    1. Actually number 6 is one of the things that has to be fixed first. We have holes in our wireless coverage and there’s extreme frustration on all fronts. I just didn’t want to look like a who get 😏

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is frustrating when the technology falls short of the expectations. Awareness of the issue and support for teachers, and students, feeling the frustration is important.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. just a crazy idea: why not start a movement to ask kids why things are lagging behind? like “letters to santa” or “kids say the darndest things” but with education?

    i dont know if youll get better ideas than you would from all the experts vying for attention (which they should) but i believe if you start asking, start listening, and start trying to give them what they think they need most, it will inspire you and get them involved.

    to give a real world, not just a “wouldnt it be nice” example: scratch has changed over time; people have found new things to do with scratch over time. but some of the most clever changes to the platform (particularly from the online version) came from watching the users.

    every teacher does that to some degree. the difference is that when youre working with scratch to do new things, youre not just using the tools– youre directly changing the way they work. imagine if education worked that way, leveraging not just the business minds and educator minds, and also included as many learning minds as it could link up to? what if you could change the way your own education worked, to improve it?

    youre looking for a “can do” spirit. well, learners are the best source of that in the world– they dont even know what they cant do!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s