Why STEM resources need a shot in the arm

by Brett Henebery13 Sep 2017

With reports showing that more than 40% of Australian jobs will be automated in 10-15 years, the focus has turned to the question of whether today’s children are prepared for this fundamental shift to the economy.

As such, there has been a major push by schools and governments to improve students’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and ensure they have relevant, up-to-date job skills.

However, while school-industry partnerships have been emerging as a possible solution to better prepare students for the workplaces of the future, a key issue has been the lack of student engagement in subjects like maths and science.

Recognising this, some organisations are working to bolster student engagement. One of them is Stile Education, founded in 2012 by entrepreneur, educator, and scientist Dr. Alan Finkel, who is currently Australia’s Chief Scientist.

The company aims to improve students’ scientific literacy by partnering with leading science organisations and schools to boost engagement, support teachers and rethink current approaches to STEM education as a whole.

Stile Education’s CEO, Byron Scaf, told The Educator that one factor which makes finding effective STEM resources so difficult for schools is that most of what’s currently available is “alarmingly uninspiring”.

“It’s crazy to think that a generation that has grown up operating modern technologies like the iPhone, and having access to endless amounts of information through the Internet, is being taught from textbook resources that become outdated as soon as they're published,” he said.

“What schools need access to engaging and relevant STEM resources to help today’s students develop the critical thinking skills that will make them tomorrow’s innovators and problem-solvers.”

‘A flexible system’
Scaf said one of the things that makes Stile unique to other STEM resources is that it was built around the idea of teaching STEM in the 21st century, putting the teacher in control and focusing on providing a flexible system that supports them.

“A key benefit for teachers, and a huge differentiator in the market, is that teachers can completely customise the content we provide. We did this because we recognise that every school, class, teacher and student is different, and ultimately, teachers need the flexibility to work around this,” Scaf said.

“Teachers using Stile have said they are able to use our platform to better understand where their students are at in their learning.”

Scaf pointed out that this increased level of insight is made possible by the platform's ability to show teachers real-time class analytics, as well as the content’s incorporation of “visible thinking routines”.

“Teachers are also supported in being able to provide timely feedback to their students, which is one of the most powerful influences on students learning and achievement,” he said.

Scaf said the company surveyed teachers who used the platform and found that since bringing Stile into their classrooms, they were able to provide more feedback to their students, both within the company’s platform and in person.

“This platform doesn’t replace teachers in the classroom – it provides them with content, shows them how their students are learning and empowering them to better meet their students' individual learning needs,” he said.


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