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VERMONT SECONDARY COLLEGE

CASE STUDY | snapshot August 2021


Vermont Secondary College is a government secondary school in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, with over 1500 students.

The Digital Technologies learning area is taught in homeroom classes at Levels 7 and 8. More than 20 members of the 120 staff are trained to deliver the learning area in Year 7.

In senior years, the Digital Technologies curriculum is addressed through elective, composite classes. (The school also delivers VCE Applied Computing).

Some STEM integration is developing. Currently, a Year 8 Biology unit is integrated with the Digital Technologies learning area.

The school runs a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) program, phasing out Junior iPad program to all students 1:1 laptops. All students have access to computer labs also.

Other hardware available at the school includes: Sphero, Makey Makey, Makebots, Edison robots, but many of these tools proved time consuming and complicated for such a large cohort of staff involved in teaching Digital Technologies.

Software and services used include: code.org, Grok Academy, Code Combat, Minecraft for Education, Thunkable, App Inventor.

Professional learning
A Digital Technologies Learning Specialist coordinates regular professional learning for staff. All staff have access to PL and regularly undertake it.

Our biggest success

Responding to the challenge of training many staff in delivering Digital Technologies. Scaffolded versions of 7 and 8 curriculum for classroom, remote, inclusion and extension.

The Sphero robotics unit at Year 7 is the most popular so far - delivered to over 1000 + students over 5 years.

Our biggest challenge

Untrained staff, with personnel shifts each year. Resources not scaffolded enough for staff. Timetabling constraints. Constant tweaks required to units.

Lack of textbook. Curriculum very dry and technical.

Varied Digital Technologies skill levels among students, due to differing amount of implementation in Primary years.

Challenges during lockdown with students on iPads rather than laptops or PCs.

CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION

Levels 7-8
Unit Overview 

 

Levels 9-10
Unit Overview 


Spotlighted Unit: Create a soundboard (Year 8)
Focused topics:  design thinking, coding, user experience design

GOING FORWARD

What we identified for development

Digital Technologies is an ever-evolving subject so we constantly develop/revise our Curriculum.

Lack of implementation of Digital Technologies in Primary schools has a direct effect on delivery in Secondary.

Subject matter can be very dry, too technical. Needs more hands-on activities.

Assessments can be tricky and need constant tweaks.

Things we would avoid or do differently

1. Allow for more staff training time prior to delivery of each unit.

2. During 2020, several Year 8 units had to be rewritten due to software / device incompatibility. This will be rectified over the course of the next 3 years by the roll out of 1:1 Windows device program.

INPUT FROM DLTV and ACS

NOTE: This advice is relevant to this school snapshot as at August 2021, with documents provided at that time.

starting out   >   building practices   >   consolidating practices

Vermont Secondary College already has a planned, deliberate approach to the implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum, with attention given to prepared units of work and staff professional learning given some priority.

Some units are clear success stories, such as the Thunkable sound board project and Sphero robotics at Levels 7-8. Transitioning students into VCE Applied Computing is evident with the Levels 9-10 unit on structured programming.

Full coverage of the curriculum content descriptors is a work in progress. The Digital Systems strand is well addressed across 7-10. Content descriptors like VCDTDI039 (communicating ideas) and VCDTCD041 (evaluation and impact) may be able to be addressed with incremental additions or tweaks to existing units.

It is clear that delivery of the Year 7 units by over 20 staff with shifting timetable is a major challenge for achieving a consistent, deep and engaging implementation. While there are less dry ways to deliver the concepts and skills in the Digital Technologies learning area, these are not always readily available in standardised, teacher-friendly formats, especially for teachers new to the subject and to the concepts themselves.

Secondary schools also face the challenge of attempting to consolidate skills among students coming in from Primary feeder schools where Digital Technologies implementation still varies considerably.

In spite of these challenges, the school has identified the need to support students in the important transition from visual (block-based) coding to General Purpose Programming.

CONTACT

School contacts: Kerri Simpson (Head of eLearning and Information Resources), David Clements (Digital Technologies Learning Specialist)

Phone: (03) 8872 6300 (school office)

Email: vermont.sc@education.vic.gov.au, subject line: ‘Attention: Kerri Simpson DT Implementation’

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