Hello, I’m Dr Josey De Rossi. I’m the director of Fantastic Learning Systems which I’ve based on my work for the past twenty years as a curriculum writer and researcher. In that time, I’ve written seven textbooks and countless curriculum resources, including official curriculum framework documents at a State and National level. As a result of all that hands-on experience, I believe that writing curriculum materials online holds a special challenge for busy school leaders and teachers. Not only do principals and their staff today have to deal with the usual complexities of language and grammar, now they have to understand that communicating through multimedia on the internet is critically important too.
Not that there’s any shortage of information on how digital learning and educational media are being created and used (see Sheninger, 2015, 2017, Fullan et al. and Selwyn, 2007, 2013). However, as the cover story of June 2020 Australian Teacher Magazine highlights, the promise of technology once again falls short of its actual practice. Based on formal studies (ACER), as well as the experiences of many teachers during the COVID-19 school shutdown, the article seriously questions the notion of students as ‘digital natives’ and makes a case not returning to the ‘old normal’. Instead, there should be far more explicit teaching of digital literacy, as well as helping teachers to apply digital devices and software to optimising learning for every student.
Consequently, I began investigating the role of a school-based curriculum writer ‘in residence’ service through which I wanted to help schools build confidence in using educational media with pedagogical flair. My ideas are the result of three years of visiting a school with an international reputation for curriculum reform. In that time, I was able to see, for instance, how much the school’s ‘pedagogical stories’ through the principal’s writing about the school reforms, together with interviews of classroom teachers and conversations with students were essential to the well-being of the whole school community to continue in its important work.
But this, as they say, was the mere tip of the whole iceberg!
As I participated in editing and recording the pedagogically inspired happenings in the school, four key areas of digital communications, which is now key to the ‘digital economy’, surfaced: namely,
- content strategy,
- project management,
- self-publishing and
- digital marketing.
I found that the processes they represented in the ‘business world’ were much harder and challenging to address within a school context. Not the least because each topic is huge in its own right, I firstly found myself moving through the stage of “not knowing what I didn’t know” to “knowing that I didn’t know”. Nonetheless, I know that in the discomfort of learning these new so-called non-education concepts and processes I have found a deeper interest in the human-computer interface, educational media, blended learning, the use of learning management systems, learning design and a dozen other aspects of education.
So, I hope that this website inspires others towards telling their pedagogical stories online. In that endeavour, I have no doubt that as educators we will arrive at uniquely creative models for our students to be the creators of excellent internet content, using its powerful technology to bring about a better world.
However, to do so means that we must motivate school leaders and teachers to persist in solving crucial challenges raised by digital communications. Moreover, they need to harness the goodwill of parents and the wider community. Fantastic Learning Systems looks towards providing many opportunities for this to happen through motivational projects. Our singular goal is to build the capacity of the school staff to share excellent teaching solutions that are understood by everyone in their school community. Easy really!