How Digital Are Australian Schools 970 X 349

We investigate the current state of digital resource use and delivery in schools and share some ideas on how we can improve knowledge of and access to digital resources for educators.

How do you feel about the use of digital resources in your teaching? Do you feel that you receive enough training in optimising the digital resources at your disposal?

Recent studies carried out by Pearson Education indicate that the average time spent by educators working outside school hours in 2016 was 8 hours per week, with secondary school teachers spending more time working outside standard schools hours (an average of 9 hours/week) compared with primary school educators (an average of 7 hours/week). On top of this, it has been found that Australian educators are spending an average of 20% of the school holidays at work or working from home.

The same study indicated that educators across all segments feel there is more drive than ever before to make greater use of technology in the classroom. While the majority of Australian schools (64%) are working towards using mostly online resources, they are still using a mixed approach to online resources and printed text. Despite some misgivings about the shift towards digital teaching resources, only 8% of educators indicated that their schools have returned back to a greater use of printed materials following a foray into digital.-The Journey Is The Destination .-- Dan Eldon

Educators across all segments feel that there is more drive than ever before to make greater use of technology in the classroom. So why is it that only 35% of secondary teachers claim they ‘have the support they need’ and only 28% of primary educators feel this way? It seems that there is a disconnect between what the educators want and the support and infrastructures being provided by schools.

What is it that needs to be improved in the planning and strategies for digital resource provision and delivery in schools for this to change?

Given that educators across all sectors feel there is more drive than ever before to make greater use of technology in the classroom, then it is clear that it is not a situation where there is resistance to the digital revolution. Rather, it seems that is it more a question of schools putting into place clear guidelines and policies on digital resource provision, delivery and maintenance, which is then implemented across the board at all levels. Key here is that those in administration positions at educational institutions are familiar with current trends in digital resource delivery, and that there is a digital positive policy in place.

“I am regularly surprised with the lack of communication between IT departments and teachers when implementing digital resources. IT department are not aware of the resources the school will be expected to access from year to year, which leads to issues with whitelisting and network access. You don't buy a car without taking it for a test drive!”
Catriona Kennedy

There is no point in purchasing a brand new suite of digital resources – which may include interactive learning, a membership portal and perhaps peer-to-peer networks for the students – if the educator responsible is not sufficiently briefed on the implementation and use of such a system.

While the study showed that most educators (52%) feel confident with the process, familiarity with and access to technology are the most significant barriers to the utilisation of digital resources in their teaching.

How Digital Are Australian Schools

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Does your school have regular digital resource training days? Do you have a mentor to help you when you get stuck using a specific piece of technology? Is the administration of your school open to receiving feedback on how you are going with digital learning resources?

There are many different ways to address the lack of familiarity with technology and to reduce the barriers to accessing education around digital technologies. Some schools may want to appoint a digital technology officer who spends some of their time each week educating and mentoring teachers on digital resource use and implementation. Other schools may find it beneficial to bring in external digital experts to educate key subject area teachers who then can become ongoing mentors for their colleagues.

Another effective way to help teachers learn how to best understand and implement digital teaching materials is to set up an online learning portal where they can login regularly and study modules relevant to whichever technology they are engaging with.

Assessment is an area where digital resource use could have a great impact on teachers’ workloads and reduce the number of out of school work hours, but currently only 1 in 5 (18%) of surveyed educators are implementing assessments digitally on a regular basis. Again, while most (52%), feel confident with the process, familiarity with and access to digital technology are the most significant barriers to doing so more often.

Imagine being able to scroll through and mark all of your assessments on an iPad in your free period before going home, given that a lot of the work has already been automated for you by the technology. In the future we can even imagine something like Apple’s Siri virtual assistant helping you with your assessments by searching for and organising your work.

Pearson Education has a wealth of digital resources available for your school. 

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