Students: content creators or content consumers?

09 February 2017

How Suncoast Christian College is going (digitally) native, for a new generation of students

With virtually all aspects of modern life dominated by digital technology it is critical that educators raise a generation of students can thrive in this brave new world. To support this cause, the federal government’s new Australian Curriculum - Digital Technologies recognises that mobile and desktop devices and networks are transforming learning, recreational activities, home life and work – that digital systems support new ways of collaborating and communicating, and require new skills such as computational and systems thinking.

While some schools may be in the process of developing their digital curriculum and gathering the requisite resources, Suncoast Christian College is a leader in this space. The college has developed a curriculum framework for dynamic lessons in Digital Technologies that equip students from Prep through to Year 6 with the skills needed in our increasingly knowledge-based society.

Suncoast Christian College P-6 Digital Technologies Teacher, Mr Adam King comments: “It’s not enough to merely integrate technology or disguise digital learning through blended approaches. Rather, teachers must become learning architects who fluidly, deliberately and intentionally deliver digital literacy for this new generation of digital natives.”

Suncoast Christian College’s digital technologies curriculum creates immersive digital experiences in everyday classroom activities, plus after school activities and electives to extend the students’ learning. Their essential problem-solving toolkit available to Suncoast students includes; laptops and tablet computers, Ozobots, Sphero, BeeBots, LittleBits, 3D Printers, Makey Makey, Lego EV3 Robot Kits and more.

In addition to Digital Technologies lessons, students have opportunity to be involved in Lego League – a global competition where students to design, program and test robot designs to solve problems. While Suncoast has excelled at previous Lego competitions, they have recently provided even stronger competition at state and national titles.

Digital learning in practice

In 2015 Suncoast Christian College introduced Hour of Code as an after school activity. Students from Year 2 to Year 6 participated in activities that included coding, Lego Robotics, 3D printing, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) activities and game creation. This project and extra curricula activity gained significant momentum and in Term 4 of 2016, almost 50 students used Scratch (software created by MIT Media Lab) to create interactive games, stories and animations.

In a recent lesson, Year 5 students at Suncoast Christian College investigated binary concepts using newspapers and magnifying glasses. Children looked at images and text composition and identified how they are made from small dots. This learning directly linked to discussion of pixels and the difference between various video display technologies – standard definition, high definition, full high definition and ultra-high definition. Children discussed screen sizes and resolution and then created their own grid patterns and coloured blocks to create images. Following this activity, the students wrote the binary (computer) code for their creations.

Digitally native curriculum… for digital natives

The initial (2015/16) experimentation with Hour of Hour was so successful that within the context of the new Digital Technologies curriculum, it is now embedded into classroom routines. Media, content and conversation has developed around the concept of computer coding; however, this makes up a small part of the Digital Technologies curriculum. Suncoast Christian College is embraces the core rationale of the new curriculum – that students should not just consume content, but be creators of digital content and solutions.

Mr King comments: “The current generation of students are the C Generation; creative, collaborative, communicative and connected and technology enriches education and empowers this new learning paradigm. In the same way stationery allows individuals to pen thoughts, create images and craft objects, technology enables people to type, design and share their work to an audience bigger than the classroom.”

Why digital technologies like STEM and robotics are so critical to learning

In moments where students work at designing solutions to problems they encounter optimum learning – learning which can celebrate success and embrace the powerful notion of success from mistakes. Robotics allows children to make predictions, test their theories and develop unique ideas. Witnessing students progressing concepts to designs – and designs to models is an exhilarating process, both for students and teachers. Learning is even grander when children can test their products and improve their creations.

“When activities are designed to blur the boundaries between subject disciplines, students collaborate meaningfully with peers and rely on each other’s skills and talents to leverage learning and improve outcomes,” said Mr King.

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Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City

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