Reviewing the Digital Technology Symposium 2010

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Attending the Digital Technology Symposium was an inspirational few days back in November 2010, with a wide range of keynote speakers and informative workshops.  Sitting amongst 250 technology educators I felt part of an emerging impetus for the melioration of ICT in our schools.

The workshop were great,Wednesday and Thursday were opportunities to hear what programmes and practices teachers used in their schools with a special focus on how they will incorporate the new Digital Technology Achievement Standards next year.  The Digital Technology Guidelines project run by the Ministry of Education and Cognition Education was the driving force behind developing the new standards. Their integration into schools next year will be a positive step towards raising the bar and working towards rightfully placing ICT amongst the more traditionally accepted subjects like English,Maths and Science,well lets hope so.

I found the workshop Innovative classroom ideas to support assessment within the new technology matrix by Melinda Stevenson (New Plymouth Girls’ High School) and Julie McMahon (Columba College) very inspiring.   They have developed a unit of work for the coming year based on previous work which helps to scaffold students learning.  In doing so they find students take ownership for their learning,are self motivated and so eager to continue with the work they have sometimes asked for school to be open on the weekends.

One example they gave was for Year 11 students  who will design and develop a computer game for the Year 9 students at the school. Students will have to pitch their ideas,create a database of interested stakeholders,market their idea and then create the game. Keeping a visual diary throughout the year helps students develop critical thinking skills and shows a progression of their learning.  They must also decide if their game will run on PSP,a mobile phone,X Box or a computer based game. Students will be introduced to the basic principles of  computer programming to make their game. They must also design the marketing material for their game to be ready to show at a School Game Expo held in term 3.  The stakeholders (Year 9 students)  get to try out the different games and rate them.   When I told my 14 year old son what these schools were doing,his eye’s lit up ‘wow that would be cool’ was his response.

David Parr of Kings College gave an interesting talk on developing  a technological pedagogical content knowledge.  A term I first came across whilst reading Instructional Planning Activity Types as Vehicles for Curriculum-Based TPACK Development by Harris &Hofer.   This venn diagram by Koehler &Mishra (2008) explains it more clearly.

Diagram of the TPack model

Giving students the opportunity to use technology at school heightens engagement and puts learning in the hands of the students. The key objectives being;

  • Enquiry based learning
  • Building student’s own understanding
  • Collaborative learning
  • Applying that understanding in novel and meaningful contexts
  • How might I apply that in the real world?
  • Transfer of understanding amongst subjects
  • How might I apply this in another context?
  • Learning Opportunities afforded by ICTs
  • Investigating reality and building knowledge
  • Promote active learning and authentic assessment

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