In Australia, there is the Digital Education Revolution (DER) Strategy introduced in July 2009 paralleled with The Statements of Learning for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) from 2006. One is a national approach to implement systemic change to increase the level of ICT proficiency for teachers and school leaders across Australia, while the later provides a description of knowledge, skills, understandings and capacities essential for all Australian students to learn. The learning of both the teacher and the leaner are situated together, each having similar but also different needs in understanding, integrating, and embedding ICT in the teaching and learning process.
The DER is a $2.4 billion project over seven years, including $200 million allocated in May 2010 for 2013-2014, that supports teachers and school leaders require access to rich online learning resources, world class technology curriculum and ICT professional development to allow schools to engage with opportunities created under this strategy to improve their understanding and proficiency in the use of ICT in the teaching and learning process.
Ensuring strong and ongoing communication between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, the Catholic and independent schools sectors, school communities and their representative bodies, the VET and higher education sectors of education and training, bodies charged with responsibility for implementing other elements of the wider Education Revolution agenda and the wider community has been set as a priority. To achieve this, the commitment to national ICT infrastructure has been made. This includes access to broadband bandwidth, digital learning resources and activities, national curriculum, and continuing professional development for teaching staff in best practice utilisation of technologies to improve learning and teaching outcomes.
The Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and all states and territories in May 2009, supports the implementation of the DER Strategic Plan and Implementation Roadmap to achieve technology enriched learning environments to assist students to achieve high quality learning outcomes and productively contribute to our society and economy. Through this Agreement, a commitment to addressing the four strands of change identified in the Strategic Plan to guide the implementation of the DER initiative and related initiatives for joint national action include:
a) Leadership – that ensures schools have a coordinated plan for the provision of infrastructure, learning resources and teacher capability to address the educational challenges of the 21st Century;
b) Infrastructure – access to digital teaching and learning resources and tools for processing information, building knowledge and for communication and collaboration;
c) Learning Resources – that stimulate, challenge and assist students in achieving desired learning outcomes. These include collaborative and interactive activities as well as instructional and reference materials; and
d) Teacher Capability – teachers have the skills and tools to design and deliver programs that meet students’ needs and harness the benefits and resources of the digital revolution.
According to the DER, 21st century schools require 21st century programs and educators capable of using 21st century resources and strategies for learning, and the vision of the Digital Education Revolution (EDR) is to empower teachers and school leaders to integrate information and communication technology (ICT) in education. This empowerment is to improve school effectiveness and provide students with the skills required for further education, training and to live and work in a digital world. The Australian Governments share the objective of raising overall attainment is so that all Australian school students acquire the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in society.
While many teachers make use of online curriculum resources, there are a number who resist the use of digital technologies or view them as ‘add‐ons’ rather than as an integral part of curriculum delivery.(Commonwealth of Australia, 2010a, p.4)
Through this Strategy, the Australian Government will commit $40 million over the next two years (2010-2012) for the professional development (PD) of teachers and school leaders in the use of ICT. Through this commitment the Strategy will support the implementation of the DER and assist in meeting the Australian Government’s commitment to contribute to sustainable and meaningful change in teaching and learning. It is proposed that by the beginning of 2012, significant opportunities for all schools will be created:
• Embed the use of ICT as a key component in teaching and learning in pre‐service teacher education courses;
• Support pre‐service teachers to achieve competence in the effective and creative/innovative inclusion of technologies in teaching and learning and they are familiar with and can utilize emerging technologies;
• Develop digital pedagogy skills in teachers through the completion of a self assessment tool that directs them to a pathway for further ICT learning and development;
• Engage teachers with professional development to enhance and strengthen their ability to integrate the use of ICT into the classroom and support the rollout of the Australian Curriculum; and
• Build leadership capacity in school leaders to model and implement digital pedagogy and ICT literacy in schools, to support transformational practice.
For schools and teachers, the DER is challenging pedagogy and use of ICT to contribute sustainable and meaningful change to teaching and learning in Australian schools to prepare students for the future. As Kraidy (2002) reiterates:
Digital technologies, however, are initiating a revolution at least of the magnitude of the one spawned by Gutenberg’s press. The challenge faced by education, however, is to develop leadership both in shaping the future of technological innovations as well as in adapting to the implications of those developments. (pp.104-105)
The affects in education of this digital revolution are generating interest amongst educators about and are beginning to be researched about in regards to impact, possibilities and new ideas. But in regards to application in the classroom what does this actually mean? Where is the revolution? What does it look like?