The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Technology, education and a brave new world

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives. It extensively reports, amongst many other things, on the changing nature of education, the importance of pedagogies to support differentiation and student agency and the impact of technology on teaching and learning (

Whether it be our 1:1 device programme, the establishment of an integration team to provide support to teachers and students with technology as an effect tool or the College's focus on Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills development and assessment, these all directly address many of the issues that OECD reports identify.

Rapid technological advances impact on personal, social and professional development. The implications for education include changes in the demand for knowledge and skills as well as expanding possibilities for how we can teach and learn.

The growing sophistication of robots, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things generate anxieties about the automation of existing jobs. Such anxieties have existed since the first industrial revolution when factory tasks involving manual labour were replaced by machinery. With advances in engineering, computation and AI a new generation of jobs will be supplanted. As jobs are replaced by automation, society will focus on new jobs that are more creative and requiring skills less conducive to automation. This will be a never-ending human endeavour as technology advances.

Estimates suggest that computers are already able to perform literacy, numeracy and problem-solving tasks but computers will not replace humans entirely. Computers are not yet able to match the diversity of skill sets that workers, even those with lower skills, use in their daily activities.

As computer capabilities evolve, so does the demand for skills in labour markets – for instance the demand for socioemotional skills has increased over the past four decades. It is difficult to predict the speed with which future technologies may evolve, but it is likely workers may have to adapt their skill set over their working lifetime. This has implications for education and training systems that must underscore the importance of building students' adaptive capacities and developing robust systems for lifelong learning. Through developing ATL skills such as research, critical thinking and using technology as a resource, students of Scotch College learn how to learn as well as master content. They will be better prepared for their future.

With the rise of computation, AI and robotics there is increased attention to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) as these fields are closely related to national innovation capacity. Scotch College has invested in STEM programmes in Years 9 and 10 with a strong focus on developing skills around self-management, collaboration, communication, planning and identifying obstacles to progress. Many highly innovative jobs include individuals with diverse qualifications and even the most technologically advanced industries require workers with complementary skills. Education and training efforts should thus aim to develop diverse backgrounds and strong mixes of skills for students, including technical and cognitive and indeed metacognitive and socioemotional competence.

Technological development continues to advance low-cost and innovative applications for a more personalised and engaging teaching and learning. Virtual learning environments such as videos, simulations and virtual worlds can motivate students in their learning, facilitate situated-learning experiences that may not be possible otherwise and generate new avenues for interacting with others to practice particular skills. Examples include dissecting animals in a virtual lab or practice certain skills within real-life virtual situations that are otherwise too dangerous.

Scotch College continues to build systems, relationships and teams that enable us to provide an educational experience that will best fit our students for their future. We are supported by reports such as those from the OECD or other education groups that indicate we are well placed to meet the demands of new technologies as they change the way we work, develop and educate.

Dr Nick Spadaccini
ILT Curriculum Integration Manager