INNOVATION IN TEACHING
An expert teaching team is beaming into schools across the state to advance 21st century skills and address one of Queensland’s most vexing education issues – teacher supply and capacity in rural, regional and remote areas.
Staff at the IMPACT Centre have also been behind successful state-wide efforts to lift literacy and numeracy results, a rapid rollout of professional development to build teacher capability in online delivery during COVID-19 restrictions, and a flagship critical thinking program co-designed with the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project.
The Centre, which links specialist online teachers and industry experts with students and educators state-wide, is led by Director Glen Watt, who has been shortlisted for the 2020 TEACHX Innovation in Teaching Award.
This year, approximately 5600 students and 1100 educators from 320 partner schools across Queensland will participate in an IMPACT Centre program or professional network.
Schools worldwide are also calling on the Centre’s expertise in online delivery, critical thinking and STEM.
“Teacher shortages are already a challenge in Queensland … but the IMPACT Centre’s model empowers school leaders to create an expert teaching team for the 21st century,” Glen says.
“School leaders augment their on-site staff with our online staff. Some of their team walk through the gate, while others beam in on demand,” he says.
“Literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and STEM programs are available to primary and secondary students. Our specialist online teachers work directly with students and collaborate with on-site staff to share best practice and build capability.
“School leaders also develop themselves and their team through participation in our premium professional networks … tertiary and industry experts are regularly involved, and network members enjoy and benefit from collaborations with experts, as well as like-minded colleagues from schools across the state and internationally.”
From 2011 to 2014, Glen and his team collaborated with education regions to deliver literacy and numeracy projects to approximately 30,000 students across Queensland. Over 150 online teachers based in regional hubs delivered these projects, resulting in more students reaching and maintaining Upper 2 Band NAPLAN results – the top results possible. Similar reading, writing and numeracy projects, which have continued under the stewardship of the IMPACT Centre since 2015, have continued to see an increase in relative gains and a lifting of Upper 2 Band NAPLAN results.
In addition, the IMPACT Centre’s critical thinking program has been delivered to more than 10,000 primary and secondary school students. Critical thinking capabilities have improved and transferred to other learning areas, with outcomes including significant increases in student literacy and numeracy achievement.
“We receive regular reports from schools about improved A-E achievement due to participation in our programs, as well as improvements in teacher capability through our professional networks. Qualitative data also demonstrates improved student confidence and teacher job satisfaction, and this is really important to us,” Glen says.
The IMPACT Centre has recently begun delivery of a media literacy project called Youth In Queensland, with contributions from world-renowned Queensland journalist and UNESCO Chair in Journalism and Communication at The University of Queensland, Peter Greste, and other media experts. The project empowers Years 10 to 12 students to become real news correspondents and have their work published on the professional inqld.com.au platform.
The Centre is also working with over 700 teachers and school leaders across Queensland, the United States of America and Canada – in conjunction with The University of Queensland and the University of California, Los Angeles – as part of the Aspiring Thinkers network.
This is just one of the pieces of international work the Centre is involved in, with the COVID-19 restrictions around the world prompting schools worldwide to call on the Centre’s expertise in online delivery.
“We are now [August 2020] preparing options for international partners as they resume after the summer break and transition to new ways of working,” Glen says.
“Our productive partnership with Education Queensland International is also leading to positive outcomes; for example, we will deliver English language experiences to students in Japan as part of the Tokyo Global Gateway initiative,” he said.
Glen created the IMPACT Learning Framework in 2009, which has been assessed by Griffith University School of Education and Professional Studies researchers as ‘a dynamic, valid and transferable instrument that contributes to effective online teaching and learning internationally’. Thousands of Queensland teachers used the framework to improve online learning experiences for their students during COVID-19 restrictions and it is now the subject of further research and international interest.
The IMPACT Centre was awarded the Peter Doherty STEM Education Partnership Award in 2018, while Glen was recognised with a Smart Classrooms Teaching Award in 2012.
The Centre is a part of the Department of Education, but schools pay for the service, which is self-funded.
Congratulations Glen on being shortlisted for the TEACHX Innovation in Teaching Award.