Considerable debate continues about the value of vocational education and training (VET) and in particular the value of VET delivered to secondary students. “Vocational education is central to Australia’s economic growth and business productivity. The VET reform agenda is multi-faceted but focused on getting better outcomes for students, employers, training providers and taxpayers.” (Australian Government, Department of Education and Training, July 2015)
Students’ motivation and engagement in writing: Do they have the ‘write’ stuff?
Professor Andrew J. Martin and Dr Rebecca J. Collie
School of Education, University of New South Wales, Australia
Dr Jen Scott Curwood
Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Australia
The importance of writing
Writing is a core literacy skill that all students need to master to be able to function effectively in school, the workplace, and the community. It is also a major focus of national educational bodies. In Australia, for example, writing is included as one of four core areas assessed in the nationwide tests of student achievement (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy [NAPLAN]), and students are expected to know how to write within diverse creative, informative, and persuasive genres.
However, many students struggle with writing, including spelling and grammar as well as audience and purpose. Consequently, there is a need for more research to understand how writing outcomes may be improved, especially since written tasks are often how students communicate their knowledge about a particular topic or discipline within both formative and summative assessment tasks.
In particular, motivation and engagement have been identified as key factors important for improving writing outcomes. Here we summarise findings of a recent Australian study of writing motivation and engagement published in the international journal, Educational Psychology (Collie, Martin, & Curwood, 2015). This study identified the motivation and engagement factors important for students’ writing success.
What is writing motivation and engagement?
Writing motivation refers to students’ inclination, energy, and interest in writing and writing tasks – including essays, stories, short answers, and reports. Engagement refers to the writing behaviours and writing strategies that follow from their writing motivation. While students may take part in very different writing tasks depending on the subject area, their ability to craft a creative story in English and to produce a detailed report in science (for example) are in part dependent upon the attitudes, behaviours, and emotions relevant to writing and writing tasks.
Most writing motivation and engagement research has focused on individual aspects of motivation and engagement – for example, only on self-belief or confidence in writing, or on students’ valuing of writing, or on writing fear and anxiety. To best understand writing motivation and engagement, it is important to look at a wide range of writing motivation and engagement factors. The Motivation and Engagement Wheel (Martin, 2003, 2010) captures this range of motivation and engagement factors.
The motivation and engagement wheel
The Wheel (below) identifies positive and negative aspects of students’ motivation and engagement.
In most research and student assessment, this Wheel applies to school generally (i.e., motivation and engagement at school) or in particular school subjects (e.g., in mathematics, English, history, and science). The study published in Educational Psychology investigated the Wheel’s factors in the writing domain, as follows:
Self-belief. Self-belief is students’ belief and confidence in their writing tasks and in their ability to write.
Valuing. Valuing refers to how much students believe that writing is useful, relevant, meaningful, and important.
Learning focus. Students who are learning-focused are interested in learning how to improve their writing, develop new writing skills, and do a good job for its own sake and not just for rewards or the marks they may get for their efforts.
Persistence. Persistence is how much students keep applying themselves to their writing, even if that writing task is difficult or challenging.
Planning (and monitoring). Planning refers to how much students plan their written work, and monitoring refers to the strategies used to keep track of their written work and their progress.
Task management. Task management refers to how students use their writing time and organise their writing task.
Anxiety. Anxiety has two parts: feeling nervous and worrying. Feeling nervous is the uneasy or sick feeling students get when they think about or do their writing tasks. Worrying is their fear about not doing very well in these writing tasks.
Uncertain control. Students have an uncertain or low sense of control when they are unsure how to write well or how to avoid writing poorly.
Failure avoidance. Students are failure avoidant when the main reason they apply themselves to their writing is to avoid doing poorly or letting others down.
Self-sabotage. Students self-sabotage when they do things that reduce their success in writing tasks. Examples include putting off doing their writing or wasting time while they are meant to be writing.
Disengagement. Disengagement refers to thoughts and feelings of giving up in writing tasks, detachment from writing tasks, feelings of helplessness as they approach their writing, and little or no involvement in writing tasks.
Assessing students using the Motivation and Engagement Scale
The Motivation and Engagement Scale (Martin, 2016) is used in schools (e.g., by teachers, counsellors, psychologists) to assess students on each part of the Wheel. There is a primary school version (Motivation and Engagement Scale – Junior School) and a high school version (Motivation and Engagement Scale – High School). Students answer a set of questions for each part of the Wheel and receive a score that can be compared against Australian norms. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. There are 11 parts of the Wheel and thus students receive 11 scores. Students’ scores can be used to provide educational assistance, information to teachers and parents, or to benchmark year groups or the entire school.
Our study published in Educational Psychology used the Motivation and Engagement Scale to assess students’ motivation and engagement in writing. This article describes our major findings using the Motivation and Engagement Scale in this way.
Students in the study
Our study involved 781 male high school students from one government school located in a middle class area of Sydney. Students had an average age of 14-15 years and were in grades 7-12. Students were asked to complete the Motivation and Engagement Scale as well as numerous other survey items that explored various literacy outcomes, including their enjoyment of writing, their involvement and participation in writing tasks, their writing resilience in the face of difficult writing tasks and challenges, and their literacy achievement.
What did we find?
Key writing motivation and engagement factors: We found that the 11 parts of the Motivation and Engagement Wheel were indeed relevant to the writing domain. It is certainly the case that writing motivation and engagement are underpinned by the following positive factors: self-belief, valuing, learning focus, planning (and monitoring), task management, and persistence. It is also the case that there are some motivational barriers to writing, including: anxiety, failure avoidance, uncertain control, self-sabotage, and disengagement.
Effects of writing motivation and engagement: We found that the positive writing motivation and engagement factors were associated with greater enjoyment of writing, greater participation in writing tasks, more positive writing goals, more resilience when faced with difficult writing tasks, and higher literacy achievement. Notably, we also found that the negative writing motivation and engagement factors were associated with less enjoyment of writing, less participation in writing tasks, less positive writing goals, less resilience when faced with difficult writing tasks, and lower literacy achievement.
Our research has highlighted very clear and specific motivation and engagement factors relevant to students’ writing. The research also showed that these motivation and engagement factors are significantly associated with many important writing outcomes, including literacy, which in turn shapes student achievement across multiple subject areas.
Given writing and writing tasks are central to students’ success at school (and beyond), practitioners are to be mindful of the important motivation and engagement factors relevant to writing. Our results provide information to practitioners to help the students who struggle with writing, while maintaining the positive experiences of those who are writing well.
Collie, R.J., Martin, A.J., & Curwood, J.S. (2015). Multidimensional motivation and engagement for writing. Educational Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01443410.2015.1093607
Martin, A.J. (2003). How to motivate your child for school and beyond. Sydney: Random House/Bantam.
Martin, A.J. (2010). Building classroom success: Eliminating academic fear and failure. New York: Continuum.
Martin, A.J. (2016). The Motivation and Engagement Scale. Sydney, Australia: Lifelong Achievement Group (www.lifelongachievement.com).
Reproduced with permission from A.J. Martin and Lifelong Achievement Group (download Wheel from www.lifelongachievement.com)
The challenge for St Peter’s Girls’ School was to provide a stable platform that enables Mac OS and Windows environments to co-exist, providing teachers the option to switch between operating systems seamlessly as needed.
St Peter’s Collegiate Girls’ School is an independent school based in South Australia. It offers South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) as well as being an authorised International Baccalaureate (IB) World School teaching both the Junior School and the Diploma Program in Years 11 and 12.
St Peter’s Girls’ School is one of Australia’s most innovative girls’ schools, acclaimed for its academic excellence, caring atmosphere and strong community spirit. The school provides the highest quality education from Pre-School to Year 12 in a stimulating, caring and supportive environment.
Known for providing quality education, the school also maximizes each student’s learning potential by leveraging on IT as a teaching tool. In recent years, the use of Macs at St Peter’s Girls’ School has increasingly proved effective, both as a teaching and learning tool.
“The school’s growing Mac user base, the increasing frequency of use by staff, and the inevitable need to support Windows-based business critical applications had likewise increased management issues, causing tremendous strains on the school’s IT department,” St Peter’s Girls’ School Information and Communication Technology Manager, Nicolas Cronis, said.
“We needed a cost effective, easy-to-use solution to manage the school’s current stable of 100 staff machines running both Windows PC environment and Mac OS X® platform, without disrupting operations or draining resources. Also, as the school is expecting additional computers in 2015, scalability was also a critical requirement for us.”
The challenge for IT was to provide a stable platform that enables Mac OS and Windows environments to co-exist, providing teachers the option to switch between operating systems seamlessly as needed, enabling them to be as effective as they can be in doing their jobs – without being restrained by operating system and computing environment issues.
After careful evaluation of a number of similar solutions, St Peter’s Girls’ School chose to deploy Parallels Desktop® for Mac Business Edition, which allows teachers to run Windows and Mac applications seamlessly side by side without rebooting, thereby enabling them to provide a richer teaching and learning environment. A proven solution of choice for many of the world’s top educational institutions that have adopted a multi-platform approach, the Parallels solution also met the school’s other critical requirements, such as the scalability and stability of the platform.
“Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition is the ideal solution for educational institutions looking to adopt a multi-platform approach to teaching and learning,” Cronis said. “A stable, easy to manage platform that gives teachers the flexibility to run and switch between their Windows and Mac programs as needed without re-booting, it is an enabling tool for teachers that help increase their productivity and effectiveness in their ability to perform their jobs.”
Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition enables teachers at St Peter’s Girls’ School to run both Windows and Mac OS X applications seamlessly without the need for IT intervention.
“With Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition, teachers at St Peter’s Girls’ School have never been more flexible in creating teaching aids that make teaching more fun, interesting, and effective,” Cronis said. “In addition to its reliable performance, the solution is easy to use, allowing files to be dragged and dropped across different operating systems.”
Parallels is delivering solutions that are facilitating a richer, more diverse teaching and learning experience for teachers and students, respectively. Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition features security management that allow the school’s IT administrators to have full control over device access by assigning specific rights to teachers. It also lets IT centrally configure and control what teachers can have on their Mac or desktop PC.
Following the introduction of Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition for teachers, St Peter’s Girls’ School is looking forward, hoping to extend the same deployment for its growing number of student Mac users, who also require access to Windows-based productivity applications.
With research showing almost one quarter of Australian parents have purchased the wrong electronic device for their school child, or a device that doesn’t do what is needed, experts suggest principals and teachers should work closely with parents to ensure greater awareness surrounding the purchase of BYOD technology.
Pip Cleaves, parent, head teacher and Senior Education Consultant at Design, Learn, Empower recommends that teachers and principals have open discussions with school communities about BYOD technology requirements, share the required specifications of the technology, offer recommendations with variety in price, and ensure parents know exactly what a device will be used for to ensure purchased devices suit the learning needs of their children.
“Having the wrong device can be likened to bringing the wrong exercise book to school,” Cleaves explains. “For teachers this means they have to be prepared for both paper and non-paper based learning.
“Taking extra time to prepare for the paper based classroom, when the norm is digital, is an extra complication that does not ensure equity in learning experiences. This is difficult for teachers to deal with and they tend to feel a little frustrated.
“When all students bring devices that ensure solid digital learning experiences, then this can ensure a teacher can focus on student outcomes and growth, not preparing for the minority that are not able to join in learning experiences with their peers.
“Talking with parents and ensuring they are aware of what a student needs to do on a laptop, and speaking about what sorts of things a child likes to do with technology when learning, is an important role of the 21st Century Teacher.”
New research from Microsoft Australia has revealed that individual learning requirements are not a top priority for parents when purchasing devices for the classroom.
Price was ranked as the first priority, followed by speed and performance, their child’s learning style, then brand and popularity. The research also revealed over a third of Australian parents are getting little to no guidance when purchasing the correct device for their child, with nearly half ‘in the dark’ when it comes to the technology needs of their children.
Cleaves said sharing websites such as Devices for Schools is a good start as it helps parents think of their child’s learning and see what device is most likely to suit their child.
“Research points out that over 85% parents will spend up to $1000 on devices,” she said. “This all adds up to an expensive decision for parents if they get it wrong. Schools need to work to ensure as much information and choice as possible is available for parents so that they are making informed decisions, not emotional decisions based on their child’s friends or the trendiest device on the shelf.
“Ensuring parents know what a device will be used for, and how learning will be done on a device will help to ensure they make decisions that help their student to achieve the best outcomes they can.”
In this article, we’ll discuss how to use social media as a marketing platform for your school, and some of the important considerations and lessons I have learned. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read the first six parts of this series: step 1, step 2, step 3, step 4, step 5 and step 6.
Engaging with your audience
Social media – it’s all the rage now, but how to use it to your best advantage? We’ve been helping our clients understand the myriad of options and opportunities since 2007, well before it became so common place.
We’ll discuss how to maximise engagement, what to measure and how to do it in a way that is authentic and open.
What is social media?
We like to think social media as any service on the Internet that allows conversations to take place. Using that analogy, the discussion forums that have been around for quite some time can be considered social media, as well as services such as photo sharing site, Flickr and the like.
Popular social media platforms
At the time of writing, Australians clearly have two favourites, according to measurement and surveys; Facebook and YouTube. These are 5-10 times more popular than the rest of the ‘top ten’ properties, which are:
Interestingly, the third, fourth and fifth places are taken by large blog hosting platforms. These tend to be spread across millions of pages and blogs hosted there, which makes it more difficult for marketers to target users on these blog platforms.
Steps to success
So you know you need to get on social media, yet not sure how. We recommend you the following steps;
Sign up and reserve usernames
Most social services require a short username, and it is important to get this right. Instead of an acronym, or a long username which is hard to type, look for ways to keep your username reflective of your school.
Research what is being said
Before joining the conversation, start reviewing what is being said about your organisation, add that of your competitors or industry. As well as the previously mentioned ‘Google Alerts’, there are other great tools specifically for social media such as Social Mention.
Get your platform in order
Each social service allows you to modify the design to suit your brand. Take the time to set up your profile, completing the text fields, and integrating the brand so it works in that medium.
There is nothing worse than seeing a social media account with default design, no description and no encouragement to engage with them. Don’t expect much respond if you leave your social media accounts to look newly created.
Create a ‘social media policy’ for employees
Many organisations are now adopting a social media policy to help illustrate what is considered acceptable and unacceptable for employees to utilise their own social media accounts. Many schools have similar documents to raise awareness with students.
This video by Department of Justice, Victoria, spells it out well.
Develop a ‘voice document’ for social media
Just like the editorial document we discussed with website content, having a similar one for social media helps set the scene, and ensures a consistent social voice. Establishing your brand’s social media voice is a great article to start the process.
The simplest way to measure social engagement is to simply look at the audience numbers; how many followers on Twitter, fans on Facebook and the like. However, are these really useful metrics? A better metric is available in the Facebook metrics, which is level of engagement, and similar metric can be created for Twitter, showing retweets, shares, replies, etc.
Sites like Klout and PeerIndex were created to help brands measure their metrics; however what you measure is down to you. This article Essential Social Media Metrics explains more on metric creation and tracking.
Social media is worthy of a book just in itself. We’re quickly covered the basic steps in creating a social media presence and discussed various metrics you can utilise to measure the success, and ensure you spend your time on social media wisely.
Miles Burke is an Author, Public Speaker and Managing Director of Perth-based digital agency, Bam Creative. His team has created websites and digital marketing campaigns for dozens of schools, and their work has been featured in the media, won plenty of awards and most of all, helped schools demystify the digital marketing space to attract enrolments and better communicate to their communities.
Empowering students in positions of responsibility, in relation to technology, provides assistance and solutions to many of the problems that schools face in the digital age, writes Nick Jackson.
As we move closer to positioning digital technology as an effective teaching and learning tool, there is an ever-increasing pressure for schools to increase their IT provision and for teachers to increase their skills using technology. Year-on-year, most of the students that enter our schools seem to have been exposed to digital technology from a younger age. The majority of young people have access to laptops, tablets and smart phones and are familiar with making these devices work for them on a social level. Students are required to become digitally literate to meet the demands of their school.
Empowering students in positions of responsibility, in relation to technology, provides assistance and solutions to many of the problems that schools face in the digital age. Digital Leaders are simply students chosen for positions of responsibility that can help schools and students improve their use of technology. This is a very broad definition, but it is the flexibility of Digital Leader schemes which allows schools to deploy students in roles that will best address issues of technology integration in their learning environments.
But who exactly are Digital Leaders?
Often selected through an in-school application process, Digital Leaders are students who want to get involved with increasingly using technology to enhance their own education and those of the whole school community. Usually, they are students who have an interest in using technology, some confidence in use of software tools and/or a desire learn to more about the use of technology for learning.
It is often assumed that Digital Leaders are the ‘computer geeks’, the nerds, the programmers or ‘hardcore’ gamers but that is often not the case. Groups of Digital Leaders are usually made up of a mix of different personalities and in many instances this diversity is encouraged as it is more likely that there will be skills to cater for a variety of projects and situations.
So, what do Digital Leaders get involved in?
Some schools set up Digital Leaders for prescribed purposes. Often, primary schools operate in this way. A school may, for example, have Digital Leaders who perform routine checks on equipment, reporting faults to technicians or even fixing problems. This can be a great assistance where technical support is limited or only part-time. Also on the technical side, there are schools who have students working with their technical support staff. This can take the form of a separate Student Helpdesk or programs more akin to apprenticeship models.
Other schools have Digital Leaders that work more closely with teachers and students. These students can be seen in ‘guide-on-the-side’ roles, assisting students and/or teachers in classrooms with using technology. This allows the teacher to focus on the subject content rather than on ensuring the digital tools chosen for a task can be used efficiently by students in the class. In more comprehensive versions of teacher assistance, Digital Leaders can be involved in staff training, demonstrating use of technology or assisting staff when schools are integrating new/updated systems. This can also lead to parent training sessions around the use of technology.
Digital Leaders are often a great asset with whole-school events, promotion and can be used in community work. This can be in an online form or with media for example: designing websites, blogs, school apps, newsletters, video tours of the school. Yet, Digital Leaders can work well when being a part of events such as assemblies, open days, school expos, parent’s evening, or sports days. During such events, their roles can be technical, presenting or assisting. Just as there a multitude of ways technology plays a part in our lives, Digital Leaders can play a part in utilising digital tools to enhance what a school does.
On a larger scale, Digital Leaders can play an important role in gaining an insight into the effectiveness and issues around IT provision in a school. They can be involved in strategy, testing and decision making. Such a role does not have to be confined to hardware and software though. Digital Leaders can be deployed in planning around curriculum development particularly where the curriculum is heavily dependent on having knowledge of digital technology.
My experiences with Digital Leaders
My current Digital Leader group is made up of six Year 10 boys and four Year 9 girls. They are a real mix of personalities with different skill sets and interests. I meet with them once a week during lunch time and despite only being together for less than a year, they have already been involved in a variety of projects in and out of school. Being able to offer a variety of opportunities for the group comes from my own and shared experiences I have had working with Digital Leaders schemes.
I first set up a Digital Leaders scheme about three to four years ago while teaching in the UK. I initially saw the impact of empowering young people when working as a Youth worker in the 1990s prior to training as a teacher. Working on the streets, often with disaffected young people, opened my eyes to what can be achieved when they are given power and authority. I have retained that same passion for empowering young people as I have developed as an educator.
When I recruited students in my first foray with Digital Leaders, I had no idea what I wanted them to do really, or where I wanted it to lead. I was inspired by Kristian Still and Dan Stucke who had championed the concept on Twitter. I got in touch with them, asking for their advice and insight. The information from those connections gave me the confidence to introduce Digital Leaders into my school.
Having done a little promotion via posters and assemblies, I asked for students to apply insisting they show interest in technology by providing an application using digital tools of their choosing. A Year 7 boy provided an application that was in Morse Code! It even translated perfectly into English. He became a Digital Leader with five other boys and two girls from various year groups. At first, their roles seemed trivial until a breakthrough moment came in the school when a Government inspection prompted ideas to improve pedagogical standards in the school. One idea mooted was to video those teachers seen as outstanding as they teach. These videos could then be used in professional development sessions across the school. I had just the people to do the videoing – the Digital Leaders.
Their status among the staff in the school soared as a result of this video project. They worked side-by-side with teachers filming them in lessons but, more importantly, editing the videos to highlight areas of best practice. This led to many roles in the school such as assisting teachers in lessons and providing IT training to trainee teachers. The Digital Leaders began to attract attention from other areas of education which saw them in online projects with Microsoft, presenting at conferences and even live on stage talking about their exploits to Royalty.
None of this was planned in the beginning and where the concepts originated from depended on the projects in question. Sometimes, I thought up ideas, other times it came from them or from other people in education I introduced them to. Before I left the UK, the Digital Leaders decided to organise their own TeachMeet. This was organised from start to finish by the Digital Leaders with students presenting from various schools, over a hundred teachers in the audience, fully catered and live streamed around the world. The satisfaction I felt in seeing their efforts manifest into such a wonderful event and the praise that was lavished on them, was a defining moment in my career. I knew that having students in Digital Leaders was a vital part of a school who was serious about advancing technology enhanced education practice and that involving young people in education reform has great potential.
Digital Leaders in Australia
Before arriving in Australia, I knew, via social media, that there were already a few schools who had versions of Digital Leaders deployed in their schools. Despite working in Higher Education at the time, I worked hard at connecting with these schools and setting up new schemes mainly via my website www.ozdls.com. There are, at present, in excess of 20 schools who have Digital Leaders that I know about and I am sure there are others who are empowering students with technology in similar ways that I am not connected with.
Again, work with Digital Leaders I set up in various schools, produced an eclectic mix of projects. One example that comes to mind was last year when I organised nineteen Digital Leaders from Wirreanda High School in Adelaide to be a key part of the National ACEC conference. They provided a backchannel and media roles throughout the conference. Many delegates commented on how significant their roles were in making the conference a success and what a difference they made to the event. I am sure this has influenced many other conference providers who seem to regularly involve students in similar ways.
Digital Leaders in my school
I made it clear from when I started working in my current role at Urrbrae Agricultural High School that I wanted Digital Leaders to play an important role in technology integration in the school. Rather than just use a recruitment process, as I had previously done, I advertised for interested students and also identified suitable students through my Media classes.
In less than a year, the Urrbrae Digital Leaders have already achieved so much. They have tested robotics equipment for use in our Tech Deck, built websites for teachers, helped with media events in assemblies, created ‘how to’ videos, assisted teachers and students in classroom activities involving technology and presented at another school. However, their greatest impact has come from two key projects:
Firstly, the Digital Leaders led workshops on a teacher training day, training all staff how to use Google Apps. As I had seen in previous work empowering students in such schemes, there is usually a point where teachers in a school see the true value of their Digital Leaders. This was that moment at Urrbrae. The praise from staff, the relationships and the quality of their training put these students in the spotlight in so many ways. From this, they began to be considered a major part of the school’s contemporary culture.
More recently, I brought together Digital Leaders from Urrbrae and two other schools in Adelaide – Wirreanda and Woodville High schools, to unpack Digital Citizenship. This involved over thirty students in a conference room at UniSA for two days, researching, debating, discussing and providing comprehensive plans for the teaching of this subject in their respective schools. My Digital Leaders presented these findings and a letter of recommendation to the Principal and leaders in the school. This is seriously impacting on methods and content for teaching Digital Citizenship at Urrbrae AHS and I know it is having similar impact for the other schools involved.
As far as the Digital Leaders are concerned, they already have a busy agenda for the rest of the year with a follow up training and development session on Google Apps and the possibility of working with a feeder primary school on their expo day among projects in the pipeline. They are also putting together a Google Apps accreditation scheme for Year 8s in the school that will run in term 4. This is intended to not only improve the skills of more students across the school but inspire younger students in the school to become part of the Digital Leader group.
On a personal note, I am in the second year of a part-time PhD, focussing on the work and impact of Digital Leaders. This research, along with trying to expand ozdls.com, I see as an important part of the development of technology integration in schools. I want to further connect with Digital Leader groups across Australia and help anyone who wants to set up a scheme in their school. I envisage an online map of the country with hundreds of pins showing Digital Leader groups in schools in every state. I would also love to see students being deployed at a strategic level by schools, boards of education or even at a Federal level. Now, that really would be an eye opening example of student leadership by action not voice.
But what does it mean to the students?
Being in a Digital Leader group has helped me gain many skills. For instance, I have learnt teaching skills from when I trained teachers Google Apps. I learned how to communicate with them and different approaches to teach them. In order to teach the teachers how to use Google Apps, I also learned a lot about how to use the applications as I hadn’t used it much before. Now, I use Google Apps for a lot of my school work.
I have also gained better communication and listening skills, confidence and made new friends from being a part of a Digital Citizenship workshop. The workshop had a few other schools there with lots of other students like us who are interested in digital learning. In the workshop we shared ideas with each other and worked together to come up with different things. At the end of the two day workshops I had made lots of new friends, had gained confidence and lots more knowledge about digital citizenship.
By being a part of Digital Leaders, I’ve gained many new skills, such as teaching, confidence, using technology and working with others. As a Digital Leader, I have had the opportunity to run a workshop for teachers at our school. I started the day rather nervous about what was going to happen but left with new skills after teaching the teachers. I also developed teamwork and communication skills after working with fellow students from other schools to discover for ourselves what Digital Citizenship meant to us and our schools.
I think that one of the best things about being a Digital Leader is all the new experiences and opportunities that I would never have the chance to do otherwise. One of these experiences was when all the Digital Leaders and I spent a day teaching all the teachers at school about Google Apps for education. It gave us the chance to step up into the position of a teacher and gain important new skills, like how to help others understand something that they find hard, as well as just having a good time.
Another great thing I got to do was go to UniSA for two days and help design a new part of the school curriculum on Digital Citizenship. It was really good to have the chance to be a part of something like that and it was also good just to get the chance to work together with other students from different schools.
When I was asked to join the Digital Leaders program, I was unsure what to expect. After being part of the program for six months, I have had multiple experiences which have all been very valuable.
The first task I took part in was introducing Google Apps to the teachers. At the start of the day, I was very nervous about standing in front of a room of teachers. The role reversal was a very strange experience but I soon realised that people will quickly learn to respect someone if they display courage and a willingness to help. As soon as this became apparent I began to project my voice and earn the teachers attention. It also made me realise the importance of explaining things slowly, and in a calm manner, as many people don’t have the same knowledge that you might have. Not only has this helped me in public speaking and class presentations, but in my general life. It is also something I can put on my resume.
I have also earned the respect from many of the teachers who I taught in my class. The day after our Google Apps classes, I had numerous teachers come to me in the corridors and school yard to thank or congratulate me for my lessons the day prior. This boosted my self-confidence and relationships with teachers.
As well as personal development and respect from teachers, I needed to learn aspect of Google Apps I had never explored before. I now know how to make surveys and tests using Google Apps. It has even given me a better understanding of how to use spreadsheets.
Our ‘kids teaching teachers’ program is still continuing and we hope to have more follow up sessions so the teachers can realise the full potential of online and digital tools in an educational setting.
Nick Jackson is the Senior Leader for Quality Pedagogy & eLearning at Urrbrae Agricultural High School in Adelaide. He is committed to developing contemporary pedagogy and driving effective technology use in education. He is passionate about increasing the involvement of students in technology integration.
As well as his role at Urrbrae, Nick regularly tweets on education issues as @largerama, has a personal blog, runs a collaborative blog and a website for Digital Leaders. He even finds time to research for a PhD and frequently presents at education conferences.