What is the goal and shape of the Australian curriculum?

As part of my professional reading and research I have reread "The Shape of the Australian Curriculum" and the "Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians". For those that are unfamiliar with these documents, they are written by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).

The documents provide guidelines on educational practice and identify the need for schools to provide quality education that prepares individuals for future citizenship. Both readings identify the importance of global awareness and respect for social, cultural and religious diversity while developing a sense of global citizenship. Both readings recognize the value of students being connected to their world and maintaining health relationships. The documents state that schools may make decisions about how best to organize student learning according the school and community contexts. The articles also state that content must be delivered in a means that motivates students "to reach their full potential" and that education must be perceived as "relevant" to the learner.

Both articles agree that there has been rapid growth and advancement in information and communication technologies and that ICT has influenced the way material and content is planned, created, shared and consumed. "Globalization and technological change" has placed significant pressure on education and teachers must employ strategies that enrich student experiences and engage "deep learning". Technology should no longer be regarded as a specific subject such as "computers" but is to be perceived as an integral component of every subject area that complements teaching and enhances learning opportunities.

For students to "function effectively in... the 21st century" classroom, it is desirable for schools to provide flexible delivery of content that is individualized, personalized and differentiated. Australian schooling must extend knowledge, provide depth of understanding and sophistication of skills that prepare students for global citizenship where "children are connected with, and contribute to, their world".

The Australian Curriculum states that students must read, view, write, speak, create and visualize digital materials. This thread is common throughout all core subjects and ultimately this means technology must be embedded within all curriculum content. It is commonly understood that students develop ICT competence as "they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately when investigating, creating and communicating ideas". It is clear that students must not only see technology demonstrated but be "creative and productive users of technology, especially ICT" themselves.

The Melbourne Declaration identifies that the "use of digital media... [is] essential" and that students need to be highly skilled in the use of ICT. Undoubtedly, skill is developed through practice and for students to obtain a true degree of competency they must use technology regularly and frequently. Often resources are limited and the Melbourne Declaration explains that within education "equity" is an important factor to develop "successful learners". Hence, one can presume that sufficient numbers of computers, laptops or tablet technologies must be available for all students for learning to remain equitable and learners to become successful, productive and motivated individuals.

Finally, teaching must account for student interests and needs. Technology provides the tools necessary to provide targeted education that addresses individual needs and differences. "Every student is entitled to enriching learning experiences across all areas of the curriculum" and technology can address this requirement. It would be foolish to assume that technology has no place in the classroom, because education must be relevant and engaging for students. Students are often familiar with the use of technology and teachers must recognize the role it plays in the lives of 21s century learners. Significant advancement has been made in ICT and for education to capitalize on global developments, teachers must embrace change.


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