This article about my experiences as a technology teacher at a primary school in Toowoomba. Although only for one term at this stage, I have been enjoying the challenge at putting my own theories that I have researched about developing student ICT capability into practice. What I hope you will gain from this article is an insight as to what you must do in order to develop student ICT capability. Particularly if you are a primary school teacher as the majority of this occurs within your realm.
Nevertheless, the development of student ICT capability is a critical process that all teachers must follow. For students to develop this capability all teachers must take note as it is best facilitated in a broad context which means throughout all Learning Areas of the Australian Curriculum. As my experience is only a short term one (until the end of the term), it is not likely that capabilities will be developed. However, the process will have started. ICT capability is not something that students will have at the end of their school career. As new and emerging ICTs enters our lives at a fast growing rapid pace, it is inevitable that we will always be developing our capabilities. Hence the term becoming ‘lifelong learners’.
In this article, you will learn one of the key ingredients to fostering a culture of progression and continuity in student ICT capability – emphasising the use of higher order skills.
When I first started this term, I was informed on the students’ current activities. It was important for me, therefore, not to disrupt this learning process and continue using the resources. These were bee-bots and the Lego robotics program, WeDo 2.0. Such ICT devices are becoming an important part of primary school education these days.
My plan or objectives where then to capitalise on the use of these resources and demonstrate how to promote the development of student ICT capability. An important part of helping students to develop their capabilities is understanding the limitations and opportunities of the ICT systems available. What this involved was setting up simple tasks for ICT tools such as the bee-bots like programming them to create simple mathematical shapes like squares or rectangles and then helping them to move onto more complex ones. Whole class discussions involved questioning students on the capabilities of the bee-bot. An example of this would be asking the students if it could also create a triangle in which the answer would be no as they can only turn 45 degrees.
Student ICT capability development relies heavily on the decisions that students make in order to complete a finished product. So I made sure that I took the time to discuss with the whole class what my expectations were and to demonstrate to the whole class as well as to the groups that I created the process that I wanted them to follow. This was a very important part of their learning. With the tiniest and minimum amount of support given, I encouraged students to then show me how to do it. This was closely monitored.
Higher order skills is about ensuring that students make the decisions that will facilitate the right ICT solution to the problem. For example, with the bee-bots I wanted them to make simple mathematical shapes. It will be these decisions that will form a key part in my judgement later on when determining their attainment along with the other significant aspects of ICT capability. For students to be ICT capable, they will need to not only be aware of various techniques that they know, but also to be able to decide if this knowledge is right in order to develop ICT solutions to future problems.
ICT in society has emerged and developed for many reasons in our lives to make our existence easier. Today, it is vital that people exercise their metacognitive capabilities when using ICT for whatever purpose and this is why we as teachers need to emphasise the use of higher order skills in our teaching and learning with ICT.