The Australian government recently revealed in its 2016–2017 budget announcement, a $1.1 billion investment in technological innovation known as the National Innovation and Science Agenda. The government claimed that the spending would create new jobs and products, and help maintain high living standards. This considerable expenditure will no doubt boost innovation. However, advancements in innovation cannot occur without a strong investment in education.
In 2008, the Australian Government committed more than $2.1 billion to the Digital Education[!1!] Revolution (DER) initiative, which aimed to generate an immediate, large-scale boost to enhance the integration of information and communication technology (ICT) into teaching and learning in Australian schools. This included investment in computers and software, school-based infrastructure, leadership, professional development and digital resources across all Australian education systems and sectors. The objective of the DER was to create ubiquitous access to the tools necessary for students to take advantage of new technologies.
Disruptive innovation and education should always go hand-in-hand.
It is a necessity that governments invest in new technologies and offer them to schools around the country in order to promote new talent. In today’s society, children are likely to be exposed to technology from birth. Schools can thus no longer be a place of theory.
The days of traditional learning models in which every student learns at the same pace and with the same program regardless of individual needs must remain in the past. Schools should now be focused on offering a personalised system, structured around the technology that is already shaping children’s everyday lives.
Investing in Technology
Technology is central to the personalised system. It can help overcome socio-economic and geographical barriers, for instance, by introducing new classrooms with laptops, online classes and portals available to parents where they are able to follow their children’s performance any time, from any device.
From a student perspective, schools must meet individual needs, offering a range of activities related to research, problem-solving and critical thinking that will provide them the right skills to face the competitive job market in the future. School should be the place where students can learn how to work independently, as well as collaboratively, in an environment that is more flexible with the innovative integration of new technology and better opportunities for student/teacher/parent collaboration.
According to the Australian government, an estimated 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest-growing industries in the next five-to-10 years will need science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and almost all jobs will require ICT literacy.
To be successful in this journey, institutions need to partner with the right technology providers to develop the right project that will meet everyone’s expectations. In addition, teachers and staff will need better resources. Intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces for daily tasks such as attendance and behaviour management, as well as financial administration processes and flexible communications that enable staff working across multiple schools or sites to securely access systems and servers 24/7 from any internet connected device, in any location, should be part of this list.
Schools as a business
Increasingly, schools are being founded upon underlying economic or business models. This is why investing in technology is so important for educators in order to save money, reduce time spent on manual tasks and be able to prioritise.
The technological disruption happening within our education system provides an opportunity to consider how we can improve children’s learning and its affect on their future – and to do it in a better way, given what we now know today. We have the opportunity right in front of us. It’s now our responsibility to shape it appropriately.