How is your school going in preparing students for the 21st century?



Australia’s national educational goals take into account the context of the digital age. The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians asserts, “in this digital age young people need to be highly skilled in the use of ICT” (MCEETYA 2008, p5). This continues a theme from the earlier 1999 Adelaide Declaration of Australia’s National Goals for Schooling which stated that when students leave school they should be, “confident, creative and productive users of new technologies, particularly information and communication technologies, and understand the impact of those technologies on society”(MCEETYA 1999, p.7).


The aspirational national goals hide the reality students can no longer be assured of middle class comforts through manual labor or use of routine skills, work that can be accomplished by machines. Success for them in the future lies:


i) in being able to communicate, share and use information to solve complex problems;


ii) in being able to adapt and innovate in response to new demands and changing circumstances (OECD 2006; Cisco Systems 2008; Partnerships for 21st Century Skills 2010); and,


iii) in being able to marshal and expand the power of technology to create new knowledge and expand human capacity and productivity (Binkley, Erstad et al. 2010).


As workers in the 21st century, students of today will be required to work many different jobs across various occupations. They will require an ability to learn new things because accelerating technological change is making old skills redundant, therefore generating the need for new skills (Wergriff 2002).


Quite simply, schools need to prepare students for their contemporary world by developing 21st century skills and capabilities required by young people to have a successful life (Moyle 2006). 


How is your school going in preparing students for the 21st century?


Greg Miller.





Binkley, M., O. Erstad, et al. (2010). Draft White Paper 1 Defining 21st century skills; A report to the Learning and Technology World Forum 2010 in London as part of the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills project created by Cisco, Intel and Microsoft. U. o. Melbourne. London.


Cisco Systems (2008). Equipping Every Learner for the 21st Century: A White Paper.


Moyle, K. (2006). “Leadership and learning with ICT : voices from the profession.”


OECD (2006). Think Scenarios, Rethink Education.


Partnerships for 21st Century Skills (2010). “Framework for 21st Century Learning.” from


Wergriff, R. (2002). “Literature review in Thinking Skills, Technology and Learning.” Futurelab Series Report 2.

Leading School Transformation using Digital Technologies – A focus on the Principal!

Leading school transformation requires principals to understand the relationship between content, pedagogy and technology. A process of transformation requires school leaders to reconsider the nature of school education and the ways in which learning can become more technologically enabled (Moyle 2010). Contemporary research suggests principals need to be aware of these elements when undertaking a process of school transformation:

i)                    Content development is necessary in order to facilitate the interactive potential ICT can offer in the teaching and learning process (Kozma 2008; Rotherham and Willingham 2010);

ii)                  Consideration of Pedagogy which capitalises upon the advantage of technology to enable for educational change (Hargreaves 2005; Lyons 2007; Moyle 2010) ; and,

iii)                How technology can support learning (McLoughlin and Lee 2009; Drexler 2010).


It is reasonable to expect principals to have a certain skill level with digital technologies. It may be unreasonable to expect principals to be the most knowledgeable and skilful user of digital technologies in any school setting; however, beyond traditional notions of technical literacy, principals need to attain knowledge and skills which enable them to be seen as an authentic leader of school transformation. Principals are required to demonstrate a broad understanding of information technology and how it can be used productively in a school setting. Also they are required to recognize when information technology can assist or impede learning, and to continually adapt to changes in information technology.


The area of ‘Content’ provides a dilemma for principals. In the current educational environment where MySchools, NAPLAN and Board of Studies syllabi requirements in New South Wales receive significant attention, schools are pressured by the government to utilise Digital Education Revolution (DER) funding to “contribute sustainable and meaningful change to teaching and learning in Australian schools that will prepare students for further education, training and to live and work in a digital world” (DEEWR 2011). I ask myself, how much time, effort and energy should my school dedicate to NAPLAN testing when, at the same time I am trying to lead school transformation?


In the area of ‘Pedagogy’, and with a commitment to school transformation, a principal needs to oversee the development of student centred pedagogies, such as inquiry-based learning and project-based activities, which capitlise upon the advantage of digital technology. Such approaches assist students with their development of 21st century skills including critical thinking, collaboration and group work. With this, principals are required to lead teachers towards understanding their role; a role that lies at the intersection of technology, pedagogy and content, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (Mishra and Koehler 2008).


In essence, content and skills are not separate but intertwined, and both are interconnected with pedagogy and technology when striving for school transformation. The implications for principals when striving to achieve school transformation are:

i)                    The need to develop their own skills with digital technology;

ii)                  A requirement to identify the balance between content and skills; and,

iii)                A willingness to ensure the school adopts pedagogies which capitalise upon the advantage of digital technologies.


Any principal overseeing school transformation requires informed strategies which promote an understanding of the opportunities and constraints of a range of digital technologies, and how they support pedagogical strategies suitable to school transformation (Mishra and Koehler 2008).





DEEWR (2011). “Digital Education Revolution.” Retrieved February 11, 2011., 2011, from

Drexler, W. (2010). “The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy.” Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 26(3): 369-385.

Hargreaves, A. (2005). “Teaching in the knowledge society.” Professional Voice 4(1): 11-25.

Kozma, R. (2008). “Comparative analysis of policies for ICT in education.” International handbook of information technology in primary and secondary education: 1083-1096.

Lyons, T. (2007). “The Professional Development, Resource and Support Needs of Rural and Urban ICT Teachers.” Australian Educational Computing 22(2) , p. 22-31.

McLoughlin, C. and M. Lee, . (2009). “Personalised and
self regulated learning in the Web 2.0 era: International exemplars of innovative pedagogy using social software.” Educational Technology 26(1): 28-43.

Mishra, P. and M. Koehler (2008). Introducing technological pedagogical content knowledge.

Moyle, K. (2010). Building Innovation: Learning with Technology. Australian education review ; 56. ACER.

Rotherham, A. and D. Willingham (2010). “21st-Century” Skills. Not New, but a Worthy Challenge.” American Educator 34(1): 17-20.