A small digital initiative in teaching School Certificate Geography

In the hurly burly of media driven assessment of education these days, the general public is often deprived of basic information about some of the success stories in Australian schools. My own state, NSW, in particular has a rigorous and contemporary approach to teaching and learning, combining the best of traditional and contemporary strategies. One recent initiative that has the potential to radically transform the face of education, in NSW, is the Australian Government’s Digital Education Revolution (DER).

As a Geography/History teacher with an interest in digital communications and social media, I incorporate many digital tools into my day to day teaching. Thanks to DER I’m able to offer my students resources that are engaging, contemporary and relevant to their educational and social development. I’m also make a significant contribution to the development of their own digital communication skills.

Where I work the DER provided Lenovo ThinkPad computers to all students in Years 9 and 10. The laptops are connected to an 802.11n wireless network delivering a guaranteed minimum of 2Mb/sec simultaneously to 30 laptops per teaching space. Experience suggests that speeds are greater than this, usually of the order of 5Mb/sec. The backbone consists of Ariba wireless access points in every learning space. The 802.11n solution has a range extending outside of the wireless enabled learning spaces. In short, the school is now ‘swimming’ in wireless access.

The school is also rapidly expanding its use of both fixed multimedia projectors with interactive whiteboards and it’s mobile multimedia projectors, in response to the rich teaching and learning opportunities offered by the DER.

The pedagogical response
Provision of laptop computers to students on a 1:1 basis has stimulated a varied set of pedagogical responses. The whole staff is becoming increasingly active in adapting their approache so that students are able to make the most effective and appropriate use of 1:1 laptops.

The initiative has fostered opportunities for greater differentiation of the curriculum, to meet individual learning styles. Teachers are increasingly adopting project based approaches to teaching and learning which mean there are greater opportunities for 1:1 teaching of students.

Responses have been as diverse as our extraordinarily eclectic and culturally diverse student population. One small initiative I’ve taken is to build this Blog, the SSC Leichhardt Geography Blog, for my Year 10 Geography class. It worked well in 2010 and I’ve recycled much of the resource material and the new 2011 student intake who are about to make their own uniquer contribution. So stay tuned.

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