Australian schools have been highlighted as amongst the world’s most advanced users of technology in the classroom, according to Microsoft. Seven Australian schools are among just 80 selected from across the globe to participate in Microsoft’s 2011 Worldwide Innovative Schools Program - a 10-year, $500 million initiative to help teachers and school leaders more effectively use technology in teaching and learning.
Five of the seven schools now hold the title of ‘Mentor School’ representing their place in the top tier of the Innovative Schools Program. Mentor schools are recognised for the creative and highly innovative ways in which they use technology in their education programs and energising students to actively learn by researching, publishing and sharing their knowledge using technology. The Australian Mentor Schools are: Varsity College and Hermit Park State School in Queensland, Dallas Primary School and Silverton Primary School in Victoria and Taroona High School, in Tasmania. Hermit Park State School, Dallas Primary School and Silverton Primary were also previously selected as Mentor Schools in 2009.
Additionally, two schools - Newton Moore Senior School, in Perth, and Bendigo Senior Secondary College in Victoria - have earned a place as Pathfinder schools. Pathfinder Schools are those that have demonstrated strong vision for how they would like to transform their learning environment and are enthusiastic about collaborating with other educators from around the world.
The schools will play a leading role in helping other participating schools and teachers throughout Australia and the world develop best practice methods for incorporating technology into their classrooms.
Describing the schools as ‘best in class’, Microsoft Australia’s academic programs manager, Jane Mackarell, said, “Australian schools represent over 20 per cent of global program, and I believe that reflects Australia’s progressive attitude to technological innovation in teaching and learning. It’s also a good indicator that positive effects of new policies like the Digital Education Revolution are being felt at a grassroots level.”
Mackarell also said the successful schools shared several common themes: “All of the schools have principals and teachers who have not just embraced technology but who recognise and believe that giving their students the best possible start in life involves giving them the best possible tools, knowledge and experience to succeed in the digital society.
Representatives from the schools will soon travel to Cape Town in South Africa to take part in the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Education Forum. During the four-day event, over 500 educators from across the world will meet and share their experiences and design new ways to provide the best possible learning experience for their students.
For the 12 months following the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum, school representatives who participated will share their learnings from global educators with other participating schools across Australia. The schools will work together to incorporate new and effective teaching methods into the classroom, with a focus on technology and collaborative learning. These schools have the opportunity to influence change in Australian schools and to demonstrate new approaches to technology innovation in education that could fundamentally change how education is approached globally.
Microsoft works with schools and education institutions across the world and has created the Worldwide Innovative Schools Program to bring together a global community of like-minded schools to discover, share and scale innovative education practices and models for 21st century learning.