Training tomorrow’s technologist

Image of MIT Design Showcase winning entry
The Digital Design Showcase illustrates cross-disciplinary practice
Mr B Thomas, Co-Director of Technology Studies

The need for today’s students to be innovative, self-managing and change-ready to contend with the complexities and challenges of the future continues to gain attention from researchers, education authorities and industry leaders (MCEETYA, 2008; Seely Brown, 2011). While technology teaching in schools varies depending on the learning context, resourcing, and leadership, the ultimate goal should be to train our students for a world that we cannot even envisage. Fostering scholarship for tomorrow’s innovative and creative technologist requires a threefold quest: staying responsive to emerging technologies, understanding how to apply technology in educational contexts, and tailoring learning to suit our students’ personal expectations.

The Technology Studies Faculty at Brisbane Girls Grammar School oversees the design and layering of information and communication technology (ICT) for cross-disciplinary learning endeavours, staff eLearning training, the learning management system, and elective curriculum studies. The technology curriculum includes elements of computer science, building client solutions, computer programming, information technology, and design technology.

Change is a constant for all sectors, not only education, with learning environments encompassing a much broader scope of technology resourcing and connectivity. The information available on the Internet constantly challenges us to rethink education while refining our notion of literacy. In addition, issues such as accessibility, privacy and reliability of information mean that the world has ‘one big data problem’ (Elbaz qtd. in Hardy, 2012). The data is at our fingertips, and can be tailored to our varying knowledge levels and appetites. The ambitious thinkers of tomorrow will need to digest and manage ‘big data’ in inventive, migratable and sustainable ways.

Quote1aAs educators, we need to ask how our assessment and learning culture encourages our students in digital technology innovation and enterprise. In some ways, the structured rhythm of the school day (McWilliam, 2012) can impede deep integration and considered cross-disciplinary inquiry.

In 2001 Dr Judith Ramaley coined the acronym STEM with reference to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Chute cited in Daugherty, 2013). She defined STEM as an educational inquiry placing learning in a real-world context, thereby creating opportunities in the pursuit of innovation (Daugherty, 2013).

Recently, several academic papers have emerged on the integration of the arts into the STEM paradigm — to create STEAM — for educators attempting to reinvigorate the role of creativity and innovation in STEM (Daugherty, 2013). Rhode Island School of Design presents STEAM as the contemporary way to foster new approaches to innovation by ‘combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer’ (RISD, n.d.).

Lewis (cited in Daugherty, 2013) notes that technology education, like arts education, ‘has always had to contend with the question of its legitimacy as valid school knowledge’; historically, both subjects entered the curriculum based on utilitarian rather than academic rationales.

Increasingly, educators and researchers are asserting the need for a greater infusion of creativity into traditional analytical curricula, such as those encompassed by the STEM disciplines (White cited in Mishra, Henriksen, & the Deep-Play Research Group, 2012). Brown (2009) concurs, suggesting educational focus on analytical and convergent thinking is so dominant in schools that most students leave school with ‘the belief that creativity is either unimportant or that it is the privilege of a few oddballs’.

This year, the Technology Studies Faculty had the opportunity to apply a STEAM-style philosophy and engage in valuable cross-disciplinary analysis and practice. In liaison with the School Psychologist, Director of Humanities and Dean of Students, we established a theme for the annual Digital Design Showcase. ‘Women Warriors of Folklore’ was selected as a stimulus for the girls to reflect and investigate the misrepresentation of women in pop-culture. The Year 10 Multimedia and Interactive Technologies (MIT) project commenced with a stimulating presentation from Ms A Dare, Director of Humanities, regarding the historical origins of women warriors. The responsibility of contributing to the current representations of women through the creation of individual digital design was discussed with the Year 10 students. This year’s assessment piece was enriched beyond just the development of digital skills. It also incorporated societal and historical dimensions as our Year 10 girls were given the chance to create a technology project that presented women through a desexualised lens of visual representation.

Winning entries from the MIT Design Showcase at Girls Grammar

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The Digital Design Showcase presented design and illustration of vector and bitmap imagery for print, video and textile design. Year 9 and Year 10 MIT students now move onto developing and applying problem solving in algorithmic logic and abstraction associated with programming digital games and robotics. The MIT subject encompasses engaged learning strategies to actively involve students in meaningful interactions with technology. Girls gain understanding and acquire skills in MIT as they respond to a broad range of complex technological challenges.

Teaching strategies in MIT include challenges in inquiry and problem-based computational thinking. Project-based learning stimulates critical thinking, collaboration, and decision-making processes and focuses on student-centred learning with authentic tasks. Cyber safety, cyber bullying, and social and ethical issues, as well as concepts of computer systems, are integrated throughout the two year course.

Other recent cross-disciplinary ICT endeavours have included English cyber poetry, Science animations to represent the life of atoms and molecules, Drama multimedia backdrops and 3D digital stage design, Humanities pop culture and geographic websites, and video productions involving various subject areas.

If we are to train and nurture the bright and fertile minds for tomorrow’s ‘conceptual age’ (Pink, 2005), we will need to reflect in greater detail new ways of seeing rather than simply looking (Root-Bernstein & Root-Bernstein cited in Mishra, Henriksen, & the Deep-Play Research Group, 2012) at unconnected educational elements. Focusing on genuine and shared curricular prototyping engages our students as seekers of knowledge rather than receivers of information (Brown, 2009). To do this, we need a framework of skills and thinking that can be built into lessons and learning experiences that are rich in creativity and technology (Mishra, Henriksen, & the Deep-Play Research Group, 2012).


Brown, T. (2009). Change by design. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Daugherty, M. (2013). The prospect of an ‘A’ in STEM education. Journal of STEM Education, 14(2), 12–15. Retrieved June 6, 2013, from[]=1744&path[]=1520

Hardy, Q. (2012). Just the facts. Yes, all of them. The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2013, from

MCEETYA. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Melbourne: Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.

McWilliam, E. (2012). Schooling for personally significant learning: Is it possible? Retrieved June 6, 2013, from

Mishra, P., Henriksen, D., & the Deep-Play Research Group. (2012). Rethinking technology and creativity in the twenty-first century: On being in-disciplined. TechTrends, 56(6), 18–21.

Pink, D. (2005). A whole new mind. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Rhode Island School of Design. (n.d.). RISD + arts advocacy. Retrieved June 6, 2013, from

Seely Brown, J. (2011). Digital media – New learners of the 21st century. Retrieved June 5, 2013, from


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