"Is the teaching profession prepared for a rapidly changing age of digital learning?"

Greg Butler, Senior Director – Strategic Education Partnerships in Microsoft has recently written a paper looking at teacher competencies. As different 1:1 models evolve, certainly here in Australia, and the pressure on teachers to deliver and create content in a increasingly digital age, this is a rather timely publication. This paper address the growing shift in focus and requirement in education from providing access to technology to equity of this access and how this will contribute to creating skilled members of the future work force.

The focus in this paper is on developing the core competencies that teachers require to be successful educators in an environment where it is recognised students need to develop 21st century skills. Interestingly, the author points out that we are still attempting to define 21st century skills "12 years into the century." This lack of coherent definition has not meant that there is a lack of key research in this field. Projects such as ACT21S & ITL are working to define the needs of teachers and how to effectively integrate 21st century practices in classrooms. The author has a contention with the concept of '21st century skills' and instead proposes 'Deep Learning Competencies' as a more aligned nomenclature. The concept of 'deep learning competencies is expanded in the following diagram.

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Regardless of the term you place on the needs of students, the issue is summed up very clearly in the following:

“Think of it in this way – over the last 10 years the music industry has been fundamentally changed because of the impact where new technology has required a whole new set of thinking and talents for success. Education needs to think of such a transformation through the lens of new pedagogies and processes that have students creatively apply technology to lead the learning and teachers to be active partners and coaches, for all learners.”

By examining teacher competencies for a digital age and asking the question 'are countries keeping up with their teaching standards,’ the author demonstrates that there are resources and projects addressing this deficit. However, it appears that many of these projects are stand alone or just papers published by different boards of national standards that fail to address the core requirements of developing deep learning competencies. This is probably not a surprise to anyone who has worked in 'innovative' projects in technology and education - the lack of coherent, centralised focus to scale the fantastic work being carried out on the, at times, periphery of education.

To read the full paper download it here