Enhanced technology skills and understandings for 21st century pedagogies development among teaching teams through mentoring

Year: 2013

Author: Taddeo, Carmel, Postema, Harry, Simons, Michele

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There has been considerable government financial investment in computers in Australia's secondary schools in recent years towards improving educational outcomes but there is also concern that teacher pedagogical practices are not really changing to accommodate the potential provided by the technology. In recent years, Glenunga International High School as a designated South Australian Department for Education and Child Development Learning Technology Focus School, instituted an innovative program using teacher mentors within each Learning Area. Students arrived 90 minutes later one day a week so that teachers could dedicate this early morning time to professional learning with a focus on new technologies and pedagogy. Separate research with university partners revealed this to be an effective initiative so the challenge was to build the next iteration of this Learning Technology Time as a more layered model of professional leaning experiences that also built leadership density. This led to the creation of teacher mentors within each Learning Area.

The focus of the mentor work was working collaboratively to build teacher pedagogical skills relevant to new technologies such as one-to-one student laptop program, Moodle, Smartboards, eResources and Daymap (for administration/communication).  The research question was concerned with the effectiveness of the mentor program in developing enhanced technology skills and understandings, thereby enabling 21st century pedagogies to be developed among teaching teams. Nine ethnographic qualitative research interviews were conducted with selected groups of mentors, mentees and leaders, with the school's innovative learning technologies coordinator, a university research assistant and university academic mentor all working cooperatively on various aspects of the research.  Thematic analysis occurred at a broader level and also seeking connections and relationships between individual codes. Findings related to the need for mentors to have content and technical knowledge but also personal skills in building positive collegial relationships. The importance of knowledge sharing as a catalyst to supporting attitudinal change and of having faculty based mentors focused on relevant technology for specific subjects, were other key findings.

Positive benefits highlighted by those involved included the collaborative nature of the practitioner researcher/academic partnerships, the outcome achieved which included publication of a paper, further development of research skills by school personnel and the school gaining contemporary data to support the establishment of future strategies.