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Australian teachers struggle with digital technologies curriculum

Australian teachers struggle with digital technologies curriculum

A new report has highlighted significant challenges in the delivery of Australia’s Digital Technologies Curriculum, revealing that two-thirds of educators are struggling with its implementation. The Tech Skills for the Next Generation report, released by ACS in collaboration with the Australian National University’s Tech Policy Design Centre, underscores the need for improved support and resources for teachers.

The report, which follows an earlier 2022 survey, found that 72% of educators feel they are not receiving sufficient support to teach the curriculum effectively. Additionally, the number of Year 11 and 12 students enrolling in technology subjects has seen a decline in recent years, raising concerns about the future of Australia’s technology workforce.

Sharon Singh, Chair of ACS’s ICT Educators Committee, emphasised the importance of digital literacy in preparing young Australians for the future. “It is critical we prioritise educating our next generation in digital literacy and digital technologies because it is the best way to prepare these young people for the world that lies ahead,” Singh stated. She further added, “Engaging students in digital technologies and empowering them as early as possible and throughout their school education can also lead to more Australians pursuing further education in technology fields and into technology-focused careers, helping them be part of Australia’s next-generation technology workforce.”

Professor Johanna Weaver, Founding Director of the ANU Tech Policy Design Centre, called for a shift in how technology education is approached within the curriculum. “Tech is already embedded in every aspect of our lives — and this will only be more so for future generations. We need to stop teaching tech like it is a bolt-on and start treating it as a fundamental skill set, like learning English and Maths,” said Professor Weaver.

Addressing the needs of teachers, Professor Weaver suggested that policy changes could significantly improve the situation. “The good news is there are policy levers that the federal and state governments can pull today to better support teachers. Without this support, we risk widening the digital divide and creating a society where the next generation of Australians are not equipped to navigate the increasingly complex digital world,” she stated.

Professor Weaver also warned of the long-term risks if current gaps in tech education are not addressed. “Most existing tech skills initiatives focus on the current and immediate term skills gap. But if we don’t simultaneously take the long-term view recommended in this report, we risk generationally embedding tech skills shortages in Australia,” she cautioned.

The report makes 12 recommendations aimed at addressing the current challenges faced by educators. These include providing accessible, ready-to-use teaching resources, embedding digital readiness into initial teacher education, supporting ongoing professional development and training, and raising community awareness about the Digital Technologies Curriculum.

ACS Chief Executive Josh Griggs expressed satisfaction with the collaboration between ACS and ANU on this report. “ACS has been delighted to work with ANU on the Tech Skills for the Next Generation detailing the state of Australia’s digital technology education in Australia,” he said. Griggs also highlighted the importance of digital skills for students, noting, “Given the importance of students’ digital skills, this report gives policymakers and educators direction on effectively delivering the current curriculum and how we can continuously improve. We look forward to working with all education groups and agencies in ensuring our kids have the skills to thrive in the digital economy.”