Technology continues its transformation of the world, and its role in the education of students is likely to become more pronounced.
But how do educators prepare their students for life in the world of tomorrow? What will constitute the indispensable skills and abilities required for the workforce of the future?
Schools across Australia are addressing these challenges in different ways – however some are standing out from the pack in terms of the innovative solutions they’re implementing.
When it comes to what makes Perth’s Wesley College different, director of strategy, Mathew Irving, points to the school’s strategic plan.
“Rather than being an organisational-focused strategic plan, which most schools in Australia have, it’s a student-focused strategic plan,” he told The Educator.
“Accordingly, we only have four strategic goals in our plan. We desire for all our students to be strong thinkers, purposeful doers, positive connectors and powerful self-activators.”
Irving said these four strategic ‘impact goals’ articulate what the school believes to be “holistic student success” and the “idea of lifelong transformation beyond the formal years of schooling”.
To measure its progress against those ‘impact goals’, the school has created 12 learning habits.
“These are 21st century capabilities that focus on work habits, cognitive skills and dispositions,” Irving explained.
“We are, at the moment, collecting student data of these learning habits through summative assessment, self-assessment, self-reporting and self-reflection, so we’re able to attend to our four strategic impacts through the vehicle of these 12 learning habits.”
Technology, Irving said, plays a crucial role in the school’s collection of data.
“We’re using assessment rubrics, self-assessment and self-reporting. We believe this is the best kind of data in terms of ascertaining how our students are going, in terms of growth and performance towards the learning habits.
“We believe that it really needs to be digital so we can aggregate that data, so we can see trends and patterns over time, and we really want our students to gain insights into their individual growth and performance.”
Irving talked about some of the technology employed.
“We are currently implementing the use of Schoolbox, with a strong focus for us on continuous reporting,” he said.
“So, through the use of rubrics and ePortfolio, we are hoping that technology will enable us to capture both academic and non-academic evidence, with a focus on our learning habits, that is updated in real time.”
Irving added that this will allow the school to move away from reporting every six months that other schools in Australia do.
“This will enable us to correlate that data between academic and non-academic elements and prompt rich conversations with our students and parents about learning,” he said.
As a result of being able to obtain these data insights, Wesley College has introduced student-led conferences, in which students facilitate a discussion with their parents, tutor or mentor to surface insights from the data.
“That data is around those learning habits. From there, they develop SMART goals and take steps towards being self-directed,” he said.
“We believe that insights are one thing, but they’re only good if you enact long-lasting change. So, we have to have a mechanism of actually developing goals.”
Irving said the school is in the early days in terms of gathering “deep insights into the whole college data”.
“We’re hoping, through Schoolbox, we’ll be able to work towards developing more cohort or whole school analytics to determine our overall progress towards our strategic impact goals,” he said.
“Equally, if we can develop those broader analytics for the college, then our strategic planning is actually going to be better. We’re actually going to be much more deliberate and move towards that evidence-informed decision-making, which schools talk about but find it hard to actually enact.”