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Revolutionising the way Digital Technologies is taught in the classroom is the Alcoa Digital Technologies Enrichment Program, designed to equip students with the necessary digital skills to adapt and thrive in future workplaces.
Alcoa Real World Digital Technologies is a term-long program launched in late 2022, which runs alongside Alcoa Champions of Digital Technologies, a year-long professional learning program launched at the start of the 2023 school year. Both programs were run in the Kwinana and Mandurah/Pinjarra areas.
The two programs provide primary school teachers with support and resources, including a class set of micro:bits, to increase teacher confidence and capabilities in integrating digital technologies into daily teaching across all subjects. Coding micro:bits, for example, can be used in a literacy lesson to increase student engagement in exploring storytelling and narrative structure, or a numeracy lesson can be enhanced with the use of a micro:bit, to learn about data collection. This approach also facilitates the development of STEM skills such as problem-solving, creativity and collaboration in all areas of the curriculum.
Calista Primary School Year 4 and 5 Teacher Jasmine Beynon and Digital Technologies Specialist Teacher Elaina Lam are previous Alcoa Real World Digital Technologies participants and are currently part of Alcoa Champions of Digital Technologies. They said that through lessons which integrate the resources provided by the program, their students have become more independent and are embracing inquiry-based learning.
I’m seeing the students gain the ability to problem-solve at a higher level without us telling them exactly what to do every step of the way”, Jasmine said.
“They’re more inquisitive as they’re not stopped by doubting whether they can do the task, because they know it’s about having a go and asking questions of themselves and each other to figure out the problem. Seeing students of all ability levels have that self-motivation and pride when they discover they can code is my favourite part of the program,” Elaina said.
The program includes a community event called Catch a Hacker. This is an important aspect of the program, as it brings parents and students together to participate in a problem-solving activity, allowing them to see their children’s digital technologies knowledge and skills in action.
“Our community engagement is an area that we are trying to develop. One of our big first events after COVID-19 was Catch a Hacker and being able to be supported by Scitech to run a community event was hugely impactful,” Jasmine said.
“We had really positive feedback from parents and families that attended who asked when we can do one of these events again. It was a really nice thing families could do together, and was free to attend which, as we’re in a low socio-economic area, the parents really appreciated,” Elaina said.
Jasmine and Elaina said working as part of a collegiate network of teachers through the program has been a wonderful professional growth opportunity, further extending their skills as leaders in their school.
“It’s been great to see what approaches other schools have taken with the program, and we’re able to grow and learn new skills together,” Jasmine said. “That alongside the coaching from Scitech has enabled us to take these skills back to our peers at Calista Primary School and to support them with implementing technology into their classrooms.”