The learning continua of the Australian Curriculum is designed to help teachers provide personalised learning for students in the key learning areas. They all begin in the Early Years/Foundation stage and the learning that is learnt here supports the subsequent learning throughout a child’s education.
It is for this reason why you must ensure the accurate assessment of a child’s capabilities at the early stages of learning. Consequently, early childhood and primary educators are responsible for the majority of progression in a child’s capabilities according to the learning continua.
Each of the learning continua supports one of the seven general capabilities or 21st century skills embedded throughout the curriculum.
In this article, you will learn how and why to map a path in the ICT capability learning continuum.
Understanding progression in ICT Capability
According to the Australian Curriculum (2018) “stages in each learning continuum are labelled from Levels 1 to 6 to emphasise that the continuum presents a sequence of learning independent of student age.” It represents a path for a child’s progression and provides you with an example of the type of capability they are expected to achieve. For example, in the ICT capability element Creating with ICT (sub-element Generate ideas, plans and processes), at the end of Year 6 (Level 4) a child is expected to know how to use audio and visual software to record ideas.
Progression in any subject is about ensuring that children acquire skills, knowledge and understanding systematically, in activities that build on previous learning. For ICT capability, you need to note that progression is about a child getting better at performing increasingly complex hands-on tasks in addition to understanding more sophisticated ideas and concepts. Your students need to demonstrate that they have an understanding of the ICT potential of situations.
Progression in ICT capability is characterised with elements to do with student autonomy and confidence, an increasing awareness of the potential of ICT to solve problems, using ICT to develop a sense of audience, using more sophisticated ICT to involve greater decision and personal autonomy, and to have a general ability to evaluate the use of ICT in social and ethical issues for example. It emphasises “increasing self-regulation, strategic planning, evaluation, deep understanding and transferable knowledge” (Kennewell et al., 2000, p. 39).
It does not mean using more sophisticated software per se. This will only facilitate the development of their skills and not their capabilities.
How to map a path for progression?
In order for you to map an effective path of progression you need to have an appreciation of where they are, where they are going and where they ought to be. This will involve you being able to accurately assess their capabilities in ICT.
To achieve this, your first step is to become an ICT capable teacher yourself. An ICT capable teacher is not just someone who has acquired ICT skills, but has developed an understanding and judgement about how to use those skills appropriately. The level of ICT capability you as an educator will have directly influences classroom usage in two ways:
- Student ICT capability: the higher the level of ICT capability a teacher has the more natural it will be for him and her to scaffold student’s learning of ICT alongside the main learning objectives.
- Teacher use of ICT tools and resources in the classroom.
For you to become an ICT capable teacher, you need to have a degree of faith to overcome the difficult early stages of ICT usage and develop an understanding of why use ICT in the classroom. Ensure that you are supported by experienced colleagues so that you can get advice and support in your earlier experiences to ensure a positive outcome that will encourage you to go further with ICT integration.
Teacher training is essential and goes beyond just knowing about new and emerging technologies, but being able to utilise the here and the now of the available technology in the classroom by supporting them with evidence-based ICT teaching strategies.
It will be vital that you build on your professional learning in ICT and undertake accredited online courses that will provide you with practical and immediately actionable advice on how to assess student ICT capability. Currently, only Victorian teachers are required to report on the progress of student ICT capability. However, within the next few years it will be certain that other states will catch up and this should provide you with the incentive to not only be prepared for this, but to become more proficient in your teaching practices today so as to prepare your students for tomorrow.
Enrolling in accredited online courses provides you with the certainty that it is aligned with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and will help you progress in your career stage whether it is from Proficient to Highly Accomplished or Highly Accomplished to Lead teacher status.
Finally, you need to understand the issues associated with using the progression grid that the ICT capability illustrates. For example, you would notice that the progression in student ICT capability goes up by every 2nd year level of schooling. This emphasises the need for you to accurately assess a student’s ICT capability as each student will progress independently and differently to others. As a result, you will need to understand where exactly they are.
To give you a further example of how this might effect a student’s progress, each level description is a ‘best fit’ description and not a tick box assessment. It will be up to you to decide the intermediate level of capability a student has between various levels. For example, a student Year 3 may be approaching Level 3 capabilities or be struggling and may have just surpassed Level 2 capabilities in ICT.
Figure 1. Australian Curriculum ICT Capability Learning Continuum
It is for this reason, that the information pertained in the Learning Continuum would be best suited as key data to pass onto other teachers as a student changes classes, moves up a year level or changes schools. It would inappropriate of you to simply report that a student was functioning at Level 3, as this information is simply ‘best fit’ and the student might be functioning above or below that level in relation to one of the aspects. There would be a lot more information required. For example, you would need to know more than just that a student could use ICT as a creative tool to generate simple solutions, modifications or data representations for personal or school purposes; you would need to know in which media they had experienced in doing this. Determine if it was with text as in a word processor, or with text and graphics like with a desktop publisher, and even with an image manipulation program (and if so, with a painting and/or drawing program). Know which program they had used (Potter & Darbyshire, 2005)
In Australia, you “are expected to teach and assess general capabilities to the extent that they are incorporated within learning area content” (Australian Curriculum, 2018).
Prepare your students for tomorrow today. Enrol now in this accredited online course addressing assessment for learning methods that will help you map a path for student progress effectively and efficiently now.
Read what Amanda had to say about the course:
You will learn how to assess ICT capability as a requirement of the National Curriculum by applying current instructional principles, research and appropriate assessment practices to the uses of ICT in your classroom. In addition, I will give you the expertise you need to make informed decisions to help you unlock barriers to establishing a meaningful learning environment.
By the end of this online course, you will be able to:
- Learn about integrating ICT and ICT capability development in the National Curriculum;
- Plan and identify opportunities for assessment;
- Determine progression in the National Curriculum Learning Continuum;
- Establish a meaningful learning environment in the Early Years;
- Gather strong empirical evidence of attainment;
- Share learning outcomes with parents and colleagues and;
- Make informed decisions on assessment strategies for your school.
Cost: Only $95 (that's less than a bag of groceries!)