Part of the Learning Journey

I am principal of a regional Catholic co-educational secondary school for 750 Year 7 to 12 students in regional New South Wales. I was appointed fort the start of the 2008 school year, the year of the Digital Education Revolution (DER) as introduced by the Rudd Federal Government. Since then my professional learning has been focused on leading teachers to explore the potential of digital technology to enrich student learning.

Very quickly, principals were required to be digital leaders. In May 2011 I engaged Delphian Learning to conduct an audit of infrastructure and digital learning. In September 2011, and after interviewing and surveying teachers, students and parents, an eLearning Plan was developed. The aim of the eLearning Plan was, and still is, ”for students to become ‘self-directed learners’ through the provision of learning opportunities which provide students with greater choice of subject matter, learning methods and pace of study.” The willingness of a majority of teachers to rigorously pursue this aim has resulted in students being more involved in decision‐making processes, extensively using digital technologies and increasingly ‘learn by doing’ with relevance to the real world. This is evidenced by:

  • 1:1 laptops for all students, including Year 7 & 8;
  • extensive fibre optic and wireless infrastructure which is reliable;
  • the Year 7 TED Program in an agile flexible learning space containing portable furniture without a teacher’s desk;
  • an online,  school developed Studies of Religion course using blended learning principles which compresses a two year course into one;
  • a school developed, game-based program for Year 8 French;
  • adoption of Moodle and extensive use of Google Drive for teacher and student collaboration;
  • team teaching approaches to Religion, English and HSIE courses in Year 8 for 146 students; and,
  • teachers globally connecting through Twitter and publicly reflecting through blogs. I was obligated to engage in this and that is how and came about.

Along the way there have been challenges; one of them being the apparent conflict between the HSC and Inquiry Learning; the other being the delicate balance between pursuing aim whilst responding to the government agenda of Australian Curriculum, NAPLAN and MySchools. INF530 provides an opportunity to address these challenges as the lead learner in one school community. INF530 will challenge me to reflect on my role as a ‘digital leader’; where I/we have been, and where I/we are going. Viewing Tim Burness Lee in The next Web of open, linked data reaffirms the need for students to develop the skills to use information to collaborate and solve real world problems (Rogers, 2002) as emphasised in the The Re-Working of Work, 2011.

As a principal, being immersed in the professional dialogue of INF530 will enable me to hear from thought leaders, develop leadership thoughts and express them via this blog. Reading further about Trends in Technology Environments will assist me in responding to the inevitable reorganisation of schooling that John Seely Brown discusses in The Global One School House. Seely Brown contests we need to completely rethink the learning landscape and that working as individuals is not enough. Knowing that is one thing, leading change in a school context is a complex challenge. That is why I have requested to read Eric Sheninger’s, Digital Leadership: Changing Technology for Change-Savvy School Leaders.

6 thoughts on “Part of the Learning Journey

  1. Such an eloquent post. It is exciting to see innovative leaderships in schools resulting in real outcomes. How do you balance the need to follow Government agenda and curriculum whilst trying to be innovative in your approach?

  2. Hello Simon,

    It is not easy; however, I let other drive that agenda with me supporting it on a needs basis. We still have very good (and ever-improving) HSC results, NAPLAN is taken seriously and data from NAPLAN is considered important. In the end, I follow my passion, which is preparing students for the world which awaits them. The world which awaits them will required them to use information to solve problems by working with other people. So, I seek like-minded teachers who pursue that whilst also teach the necessities to prepare students well for the “content driven, ‘testing’ regime of government”.


  3. I agree that we are fortunate to have school leaders who are ready to not only take up the challenge but lead from the front with energy and enthusiasm. I know you write a lot elsewhere, and maintain a solid twitter stream and more, but do hope that this blog becomes a space that is not necessarily formal, but reflects the challenges of your own personal ‘brain’ – so to speak. Don’t forget to write not just for assessments (as then you will have a problem with your final assessment task). Listen to my video tutorial and set up some categories to help organise your learning throughout the subject. Great start – of course! 🙂

  4. Hi Jude,

    Hello Judy,

    Thanks for your comments. I am still finding my way through this course, as it appears others are as well.

    Just wondering where I could find your video tutorial and set up some categories. Some categories could be…..
    Leadership, Learning, Technology, Innovation, Pedagogy, Role of the Teacher.

    I have tinkered but must be missing something.

    Regards and Thanks,

  5. Greg, as always first place to check is the announcements. They are in the digital space, in Interact, and in your email. I know you must get heaps of email, so it might be worth your while to set up a filter -as all vital messages/announcements also go directly to student emails. Given your workload I’ve no worries about the quality of your work = of course not! But it’s over to students to look at the announcements, read email messages and so on. I wish I could knock on everyone’s door – if only 🙂

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