Australian Academy of Science
Building capability in a changing environment - Professional learning for teachers
When the Australian Academy of Science Education team took a step back to assess their impact in building teacher capabilities, they discovered a need to understand how technology could help them leap forward. Australian Government grant funding for the period 2020-21 to 2024-25 to extend their education programs meant this was a real opportunity to revisit some complex challenges for teachers.
Every day, teachers across Australia balance the complexities of student needs, curriculum requirements, administration and school and community expectations. On top of this, new technologies can influence classroom dynamics and learning requirements for the future workforce. Teachers are often stretched thin in a system struggling to keep pace with change.
While continuous capability building is critical in this environment, professional learning programs often fall short of helping teachers to actually put great practice into action.
Folk has worked with the Australian Academy of Science education programs since 2018, bringing a human-centred design approach to their exploration of digital transformation. Through research and co-creation with primary and secondary teachers, education experts and the Academy team, Folk has designed a new type of professional learning service that is distinct from anything else available to teachers. Crucially, it addresses systemic challenges around capability building.
Bridging the gap between learning and applying
The Folk team dug deep into understanding the day-to-day of teaching, interviewing school teachers across Australia. Cohorts of teachers participated in video diary studies that captured their thoughts, experiences and challenges up close. We tested prototypes that showed us how teachers could interact with content in new ways.
A picture emerged of the disconnect between 'learning' and 'applying', highlighting the importance of context and integration into daily routines. While the Academy’s programs excelled at creating content to guide teachers, there was opportunity to shift their attention to help teachers put new behaviours, rituals and practices into action. Bridging this gap in capability development meant designing a service that would be useful every day, not just when there is (limited) time outside the classroom.
Practice Makes Progress captures this shift and frames the design of a service that takes a fresh approach to professional learning. It will see teachers building their strengths and behaviours over time as an embedded part of their day-to-day, developing their capacity to understand and apply the right practices for them and their students.
Folk and the Academy education programs are continuing to work together throughout 2022 to prototype and build the service so that it can be used by thousands of teachers nationwide.