Technologies in the Australian Curriculum V 9.0 are described as "...traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies that shape our world." The Australian Curriculum: Technologies learning area (for Foundation to year 10) comprises a Digital Technologies subject, in which students use computational thinking and information systems to define, design and implement digital solutions for authentic problems. The subject Digital Technologies explicitly supports the development of Digital Literacy. Digital Literacy is a general capability in the Australian Curriculum which encompasses the knowledge and skills students need to create, manage, communicate and investigate data, information and ideas, and to solve problems using digital tools. Digital tools are defined in the Digital Technologies glossary as "hardware, software, platforms and resources used to develop and communicate learning, ideas and information."
Several states also provide definitions in their various policies, curriculum documents, and strategic plans. The following are some examples of state-level education documents which provide definitions:
Victoria’s 2020 Digital Learning in Schools Policy defines ICT/digital technologies as, “the digital devices, tools, applications and systems that students and teachers use for learning and teaching; this includes department-provided software and locally-sourced devices, tools and systems.” They define Digital Learning as, “any type of learning that is facilitated by technology and any instructional practice that is effectively using technology to strengthen and/or transform the learning experience.”
Western Australia’s Curriculum defines technologies as “the materials, data, systems, components, tools and equipment used to create solutions for identified needs and opportunities, and the knowledge, understanding and skills used by people involved in the selection and use of these.” More specifically, digital technologies are “any technologies controlled using digital logic, including computer hardware and software, digital media and media devices, digital toys and accessories and contemporary and emerging communication technologies.”
Tasmania’s Approach to Digital Inclusion for 21st Century Learner’s and Action Plan states that "Digital literacy encompasses the knowledge and skills students need to create, manage, communicate and investigate data, information and ideas, and solve problems. It assists students to work collaboratively at school and in their lives beyond school.” The framework also states that “Every learner should have the opportunity to be connected and engaged in learning, supported through access to and use of technology. Our goal is to ensure all learners have the technological skills, with equitable access to safe online environments to pursue life opportunities in the 21st century”.
Queensland describes its learning@home curriculum program as “the ways schools will maintain teaching and learning in the event of a prolonged school closure or student absence.”
Constitution and laws: Australia’s 1900 Constitution establishes a federal system of government with six states. Education in Australia is regulated primarily by laws of the States rather than laws of the Commonwealth Parliament. The Commonwealth Parliament is empowered to make laws in relation to the territories; however, they have conferred a large measure of self-governance to two of the territories, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
None of the state Education Acts mention technology use in schools. However, because many students live in remote areas, almost all the states’ Education Acts (New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory) mention distance education in some form, with just South Australia as the exception.
Policies, plans and strategies:
The 2012 National Education Agreement gave policy and reform directions for the states and territories in Australia. The agreement makes a commitment to improving teaching and learning environments in all public schools, including in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The National Education Agreement was mutually reinforced by the previous 2008 National Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians and the 1999 National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-first Century. Both of which described ICT as an essential foundational skill. In the increasingly digitalized world, students need to be knowledgeable in ICT to engage effectively and productively as digitally literate members of society. The goals sought to ensure that Australian students graduated from the public school system as fully confident, creative and productive users of new technologies. Notably, the students should also be able to understand the impact of those technologies on society and use them ethically. More recently, the 2019 Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration sets goals for the Australian education system. One of the goals includes ensuring all young Australians become successful lifelong learners who are productive and informed users of technology who can adapt to emerging technologies in the future.
The Australian Curriculum spans from Foundation to year 10 and, as noted earlier, includes the Technologies learning areas, as well as the Digital Literacy general capability. The review of the Australian Curriculum in 2020–22 included updating and refining the Information Communication Technology (ICT) capability to the Digital Literacy capability, to maintain currency with international curricula and research. The amended curriculum (Version 9.0), including the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, was endorsed by Australian Education Ministers (federal, state and territory) in April 2022 and in schools across Australia from 2023.
The Australian Government is engaged in promoting the safe and ethical development and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies across multiple sectors, including education. Australia’s AI Ethics Principles, developed by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources, are designed to ensure that businesses, governments and other organizations practice the highest ethical standards when designing, developing and implementing AI.
There are a number of processes underway nationally to explore the current and future role of AI in education. Australian Education Ministers have established a cross-jurisdiction taskforce, including experts, to develop an evidence-based, best practice framework to guide schools in harnessing generative AI tools to support teaching and learning. The framework will be provided to Ministers for endorsement in late 2023 and is expected to be rolled out to schools from 2024. An inquiry into the use of generative AI in the Australian education system was also announced on 24 May 2023. The inquiry is underway and further information is available on the Australian Parliament House website. In addition, Australia is one of seven countries collaborating on Phase Two of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) High Performing Systems for Tomorrow project (HPST II), which will produce a framework to inform policy development for secondary education and steer the long-term direction of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The project will explore differences between learning systems, new insights into success factors, and implications of AI for education.
The 2019-2025 Schools Digital Strategy is a seven-year roadmap in New South Wales that aims to empower schools with the support necessary for their digital journey, build digital equity and capability among students, and align the various departments to support schools. This is implemented through several initiatives such as the Rural Access Gap program, Digital Maturity Planner, and streamlined communication with parents and carers through the NSW Education App. The delivery roadmap shows how the initiatives are structured over several years to optimize, evolve, and finally transform the service delivery, digital infrastructure, and processes and platforms. In the end, digital delivery will be fully integrated across the department, students will have equitable access to digital resources and smart devices, and the department will be able to provide strategic advice based on data-driven insights. Each school uses the Digital Maturity Planner to help understand their current level of digital maturity, identify gaps, and help build and manage a plan that lifts their digital capabilities through their own Digital Access Plan.
The Western Australian Department of Education’s 2020-2024 ICT Vision for Teaching and Learning and the Information and Communication Strategy set goals for Western Australian public schools. The Department has established a Digital Capability Advisory Group, comprising of internal and external stakeholders, that provides high level oversight and advice on digital innovation in public education. Since 2017, WA has implemented a successful profession-led model of support with DigiTech Schools sharing their expertise and supporting other teachers. Western Australia also makes efforts to empower and inspire girls to learn and pursue STEM. The 2019 Students Online in Public Schools Policy ensures that online services are provided to students in Western Australian public schools for learning-related activities. Student must have signed parental permission to have an Online Services account and Acceptable Use Agreement to access Department provided online services.
Victoria’s 2020 Digital Learning in Schools Policy also assists schools in developing and implementing their own school-based policy for ICT/digital technologies. These policies must support and enable student learning and are safe, balanced and appropriate. Victoria also has a 2020 Social Media Use to Support Student Learning Policy which states that social media may be used to support student learning in the curriculum as long as the teacher complies with all relevant legislation and policies, obtains consent, and maintains professional conduct.
Tasmania also has a similar 2022 Social Media Policy, which allows for Social Media use to support teaching and learning with the highest safety, privacy and security standards possible. Tasmania’s Approach to Digital Inclusion for 21st Century Learners and Action Plan puts the child at the centre, recognising that Tasmanian learners have a right to equitable access to technology. It recognises that they also have a right to access a skilled workforce that can deliver digital learning opportunities to develop their technological capabilities aligned to the Child and Student Wellbeing Strategy (Wellbeing for Learning).
A Strategy for STEM in Queensland State Schools (also known as Schools of the Future STEM strategy) was developed within the 2016 Advancing Education Action Plan to prepare Queensland students for the opportunities of a knowledge-based economy. The plan mandates the Digital Technologies curriculum, including coding and robotics, to be taught for all grade levels. The strategy focuses on increasing the participation of girls, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in STEM. Every state school is provided with a STEM specialist. Western Australia also makes efforts to empower and inspire girls to learn and pursue STEM. The Queensland Department of Education’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan also mentions leveraging technology for teaching and learning as well as building greener environments in schools.
A Strategy for STEM in Queensland State Schools (also known as Schools of the Future STEM strategy) was developed within the 2016 Advancing Education Action Plan to prepare Queensland students for the opportunities of a knowledge-based economy. The plan mandates the Digital Technologies curriculum, including coding and robotics, to be taught for all year levels. The strategy focuses on increasing the participation of girls and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in STEM. Every state school is provided with a STEM specialist. The Queensland Department of Education’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan also mentions leveraging technology for teaching and learning as well as building greener environments in schools. Queensland’s more recent 2022-2025 Digital Strategy comprises of three focal point pillars which then comprise of various strategies to help guide the decision-making process. The first pillar, modern learning, focuses on investing and improving digital services and capacity. The second pillar, business moderation, seeks to design and implement modern human-centered business strategies into the education system. The third pillar, core foundations, focuses on designing and building an ICT platform and maintaining it to meet the changing needs of future learning and organizational productivity.
South Australia’s Department of Education 2023-2026 Digital Strategy is designed to improve the education system as a whole. For students, in government schools, the strategy delivers more engaging and empowering digital learning experiences through improvements in ICT infrastructure and ensuring all students have access to devices. As a measurement of success, the average digital literacy level of students should increase, and the proportion of students under the benchmark should be reduced. Staff should report higher levels of technology being integrated into teaching and learning. The strategy also details a plan to improve the preparedness of educators and staff by ensuring they are trained, equipped, and well supported to deliver effective digitally-enabled teaching and work efficiently and productively. To do this, initiatives in the Digital Strategy include training and resource packages for both educators and students. Technologies will be better integrated into the curriculum and new curriculum resources will be provided for educators. The strategy seeks to create a new online technology resource hub for leaders, educators, and staff. The hub is currently in development and will serve as a space for support, discussion, and sharing. Schools can also purchase or borrow hardware, software, or technologies through this service. A separate teaching and learning website is also in development for educators, students, and parents.
In the Northern Territory, the 2018-2022 STEM in the Territory Strategy highlighted a need to prioritize technology education. The strategy contains various goals related to technology. Ongoing work throughout the strategy’s timeline includes teaching all students digital and coding skills through a comprehensive rollout of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, building teacher capabilities to teach STEM, increasing student engagement in STEM, and encouraging the uptake of online learning materials linked to classroom practice to support the development of students’ problem-solving and reasoning skills. Similarly, the 2021-2025 Education Northern Territory Strategy seeks to target investments into technologies.
In 2020, the $34.9 million Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child launched to carry out a detailed seven-year cohort study with 3,000 families and provide resources for parents, educators and communities about safe and effective digital practices. It will investigate how to harness digital technologies to optimise learning and access to knowledge through active interactions and development of engaging and thought-provoking technologies. The centre will generate insights to influence policy, innovation (through technology-enabled learning frameworks), and practice.
Digital competency frameworks:
Digital literacy has been added to Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) as the sixth core skill alongside learning, reading, writing, oral communication, and numeracy. Australia’s framework defines digital literacy as “the skills and competencies needed to use digital technologies to achieve personal goals, enhance employability skills and support education and training.” These skills include searching and navigating, creating, communicating and collaborating, thinking critically, analysing information, and addressing safety and well-being using various digital technologies. The framework recognizes that digital literacy skills exist on a continuum with varying degrees of competency required depending on the context within which the skills are applied. As a result, the framework is divided into four levels (from pre-level 1 to level 3) and four performance variables (support, context, text complexity, and task complexity) with three Domains of Communication (under the different contexts that may use these skills: personal and community; workplace and employment; and education and training). For example, at digital literacy level 3, one should be able to perform digital tasks independently in most contexts, do routine texts, and complete tasks with many steps. In the domain of education and training, an example activity would be to set up a spreadsheet that incorporates built-in formulas.
Queensland’s Data Literacy Framework provides guidance to support learning and well-being for children. The framework defines data literacy as “the knowledge, skills and dispositions to use data ethically to inform policies, decisions and practices.” The framework encourages improving the data literacy of educators, teachers and leaders in ECEC and schools so that they can participate in data-informed practice and be able to use and respond to data ethically. Data-informed practice is described as “taking a purposeful, collaborative, solution-focused, ethical and inclusive approach to our engagement with both using and learning about the use of, data.”
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: In 2020, the National Cabinet released the COVID-19 National Principles for School Education. The principles affirmed that States and Territories are responsible for managing and making operational decisions regarding their schools and mandate that all children must be supported by their school to ensure participation in quality education. In 2022, the National Cabinet agreed to formulate a more nationally consistent approach to ongoing distance education, establishing the National Framework for Managing COVID-19 in Schools and Early Childhood Education and Care, which states that remote learning must be considered as a time-limited last resort. It guided state education departments in implementing their own return-to-school strategies.
Queensland’s 2022-2025 Digital Strategy and South Australia’s Department of Education 2023-2026 Digital Strategy were established after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Northern Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland also reconsidered their policies on devices in schools in 2021-2022. Recognizing its potential for supporting learning at home,Victoria and Tasmania both implemented policies that inform on social media use for teaching and learning and help guide schools on monitoring and restricting its use.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 1996 National Electricity (South Australia) Act governs the electricity system in most Australian states and territories. The Act includes both the National Electricity Law (NEL) and the National Electricity Rules (NER). Both of which play a significant part in the regulation of jurisdictions that adopt them. The national power grid is known as the National Electricity Market (NEM) and comprises state governments and private entities. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have separate electricity systems and operate under separate legislative and regulatory arrangements. None of these national or state laws specifically mention schools.
The Queensland Government's 2020 Cooler Cleaner Schools Program (CCSP) and the Advancing Clean Energy Schools Program fund solar panel installations for state schools. Western Australia’s Clean Energy Technology Fund provides renewable new energy technologies in public schools. These are in line with the commonwealth government's Renewable Energy Target.
Computers and devices:
New South Wales implemented its own Student Bring Your Own Device Policy (BYOD) in 2013 to help transition students after the end of the federal free laptop program and rescinded it in 2020 for a policy which returned the choice to individual schools. The Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland all encourage BYOD programs and provide guidance and procedures for implementing one. However, it is up to the discretion of the individual schools on whether they will implement a BYOD program and determine how they will manage it. Tasmania's Digital Inclusion for 21st Century Learners (education.tas.gov.au) action plan outlines an investment of $3 million over three years to provide school libraries with computers and internet hotspots to loan to students to take home and $2 million to help families and carers support their child’s digital access.
Queensland, through the Distance Education ICT subsidy scheme, provides subsidies for students registered at Schools of Distance Education of 250$ annually to assist with purchasing, replacing or upgrading computer hardware. South Australia’s Department of Education 2023-2026 Digital Strategy aims to provide one device per three students at the primary level and one device per child at the secondary level. The program will provide funding to primary schools to help purchase devices. Secondary schools can determine what method to use to achieve these goals. The program provides funding to support purchasing devices for students in years 10-12 who are from low-income families that qualify for the School Card scheme. This program also offers personal devices to all staff members in the public school system.
In 2018, the Australian Capital Territory provided a free Chromebook laptop to all secondary school students and ensured one device per three students at the primary school level through the Future of Education – Digital Access and Equity Program. Students who bring their devices to school must have the devices fully charged at the beginning of each school day. If the chosen devices are not the school-provided Chromebooks, the device should also be able to connect to the SchoolsNET wireless network.
The National Broadband Network (NBN) is Australia’s broadband infrastructure project. The project is managed by NBN Co Limited (NBN Co), a government-owned enterprise. The framework is established by the 2011 National Broadband Network Companies Act (NBN Companies Act) and the 2011 Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures—Access Arrangements) Bill. There is no federal universal access law or policy, though the NBN has suggested one should be made.
To boost education opportunities and narrow the digital divide, from 2023 the Australian Government is supporting up to 30,000 families to receive free NBN for 12 months through the School Student Broadband Initiative (SSBI). The Government is supporting NBN Co’s implementation and delivery of this initiative with a $4.5 million grant. This is a targeted affordability initiative while the Government considers longer-term solutions to address digital exclusion and education.
The Rural Access Gap program, through New South Wales Schools Digital Strategy, provided all rural and remote schools with internet to help close the digital divide with their metro counterparts. South Australia’s Department for Education Strategic Plan – Towards 2028 and the SWiFT program introduced high-speed, reliable internet and upgraded ICT hardware for all schools and preschools. South Australia’s 2021-2028 Country Education Strategy and the 2023-2026 Digital Strategy also contribute to the health checks and upgrades of the ICT infrastructure system.
In the Australian Capital Territory, network access and ICT management are determined under the ICT Management in Schools Policy. Under this policy, ICT services such as network access, software, end-user devices, data cabling and cabinets, wireless access points, internet access and internet filtering are all managed centrally through Shared Services ICT, which delivers services across all the Government’s Directorates and Agencies in the territory. All Public Schools in the territory benefit from one of the highest-speed education networks in Australia called 'SchoolsNET', a secure gigabit fibre broadband that is filtered and managed by the Shared Services ICT.
Students registered at Schools of Distance Education in Queensland through the Distance Education ICT subsidy scheme receive a yearly subsidy of $500 to help offset the costs of broadband Internet access and download charges for the home classroom.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
School of the Air is a distance learning option that has served students located in remote and outback Australia since the 1950s. School of the Air is now a generic term for correspondence schools or distance education schools. Originally conducted through radio, these schools now utilize telephone or internet technology. For example, in Western Australia, there are five Schools of the Air and one School of Isolated and Distance Education, or SIDE. Each school uses different methods for distance education including SATWEB, Webex, ZOOM, Moodle, Connect and printed materials. Schools of the Air are currently available in all states except for Tasmania, which has the Department of Education provided Tasmanian eSchool as their distance learning alternative option. New South Wales, as part of their Enrolment of Students in NSW Government Schools policy, specifically includes Distance Education as an option for students who are isolated or have special circumstances which prevent them from attending. Eligibility for distance learning can be found in the Distance Education Enrolment Procedures. Other states have similar eligibility requirements for distance education that can be found on their education department websites.
In Australia, new technology, remote learning options, and teaching resources were introduced within weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and children were supported to learn from home. Remote learning plans were mostly determined by individual schools; however, each state and territory provided online learning resources to support students learning from home. The lessons were designed so students could work through them independently and without parental monitoring. South Australia published a suite of Learning at home lessons online as part of the Our Learning SA strategy to “support short-term learning at home when face-to-face learning is interrupted.” Reception to year two students have more than 450 video lessons available. Students in years 3-10 have over 800 PowerPoint lessons available. There are also activities for families to complete together.
Queensland has an online learning@home curriculum which includes three TV programs (learning@home TV, reading@home TV, and coding@home TV), resources for students to complete on their own at their own pace (such as learning packages and additional resources), and activities through the QLearn website. To support the continued delivery of teaching and learning at home and in schools, Western Australia’s Department of Education utilised their online learning platform Connectteaching and learning application designed to provide seamless access to essential information for students, parents, and staff. With over 300,000 users across the state, it serves as a central tool for online interactions, collaboration and communication through virtual classrooms, access to resources, professional communities and notifications and is accessible through a browser and an app. The platform offers a secure online environment for students to actively engage with technology, enhance their learning, and strengthen their ICT capabilities through daily practice. Developed and maintained by the Department, Connect is free for all users and integrates with other Department systems for seamless access and process automation. Online learning resources were organised by year level with additional resource such as learning programs and packages, digital modules and support material to foster and support student engagement and wellbeing were made are available for teachers through Connect.
The Australian Government funded the development of the Digital Technologies (DT) Hub, which helps to implement the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and Digital Literacy capability, including the general use of digital tools in teaching and learning. The resources on the Hub are targeted at teachers, students, parents and carers. The Hub includes materials designed to support planning, teaching and assessment of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and the Digital Literacy general capability. The DT Hub is led by Education Services Australia, who also offer a range of professional learning opportunities and webinars to support teachers to integrate technology into all learning areas, from Foundation to year 10. The Hub also offers a range of resources to support the teaching of key topics such as AI, cyber security and data.
The Australian Government also funded the National Lending Library, delivered by the University of Adelaide. This initiative provides access to new and emerging technologies equipment, lesson plans and lesson kits for use in Australian schools, particularly for schools in rural and remote regions. It includes teacher professional learning via webinars, face-to-face and online workshops.
Through previous funding, the University of Adelaide also delivered the Digital Technologies Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which were aligned to the former version of the Australian Curriculum. Through industry investment, the University of Adelaide is in the process of updating all MOOCs to version 9 of the Australian Curriculum, and this work will be finalised in 2023. The MOOCs cover Digital Technologies from Foundation to year 10, and include MOOCs focused on AI and cyber security. Members of the public are welcome to sign up for their newsletter to be informed when the free resources are made publicly available.
In 2022, the Australian Government Department of Education commissioned research to deliver the Research into Best Practice Models for Use of Digital Technologies in Mathematics Teaching and Learning project. This reflected on what worked well in lifting mathematics and numeracy outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic and what key aspects could potentially be further explored and developed as enduring augmentations to mathematics teaching. The research report includes analysis of best practice delivery models, technology platforms and practices which can continue to be used to support current teachers, to reduce overall burden on teachers and support individualized student performance and assessment.
Tasmania provided learning resources by age level starting from birth to 16 years old. These resources support their Virtual Learning Centre, an online service to support students’ learning needs if they are learning from home. For students who are unable to access the VLC, printed materials are available and are provided by the schools.
The Australian Capital Territory’s online learning platforms are provided through a comprehensive portal called ‘The Digital Backpack’. The Backpack enables students to access their learning at school and at home, through the growing network of publicly available Wi-Fi and on their own device of choice. The territory utilizes G Suite for Education (GSFE) and Microsoft Office 365. They also provide eBooks through their own online library system ‘Oliver’. An extensive guide is provided to help families get started. All schools have an IT officer that is available for support.
For tertiary education, the ‘Regional University Study Hubs’ (RUSH) Program supports access for groups that are traditionally underrepresented, such as those who are first in family to undertake study, First Nations students, and students with disability. The program aims to increase accessibility, inclusivity, and equity by providing digital services like video conferencing, computing facilities, and fast internet access to students in regional and remote areas, where such services are disproportionately difficult to access. There are currently 34 Regional University Study Hubs across Australia, with funding for an additional 20 Regional Hubs and 14 Suburban announced on 18 July 2023.
The Australian Curriculum, which is overseen by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), is mandated to be taught across all states and territories. The curriculum learning area, Technologies, which includes “Design and Technologies” and “Digital Technologies” Both are mandated for foundational years (kindergarten) to year 8 and optional for years 9 and 10. The curriculum content is organized into two related strands: knowledge and understanding (such as hardware, software and networks) and processes and production skills (being able to create ideas and information and to define, design, implement, and evaluate digital solutions). Taught together, the two strands are able to provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to safely and ethically use information systems and create designed or digital solutions.
In “Design and Technologies” students learn to create “quality designed solutions for identified needs and opportunities across a range of technologies contexts”. To do this, students plan and produce design ideas, processes and solutions. The “Digital Technologies” subject enables students to gain skills, knowledge and understanding of information systems. Students learn to be effective users and critical consumers of digital systems. In both subjects, the curriculum provides learning area achievement standards and subject achievement standards for each two-year band levels from years 1-10, with just the foundation year being provided as a single year. Digital Technologies explicitly supports the development of Digital Literacy.
Digital Literacy is also incorporated across all learning areas to add depth and richness to student learning. The capabilities are made up of six levels of five elements: investigating; creating and exchanging, managing and operating, and practising digital safety and wellbeing. The general capabilities is identified wherever it is developed or applied in content descriptions across all learning areas.
The National Assessment Program – Information and Communication Technology Literacy (NAP–ICTL) assesses the performance of students in Australia in relation to their ICT literacy. According to the 2010 Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia, a sample selection of students in year 6 and year 10 are mandated to be assessed on Information and Communication Technology Literacy every three years (with the exception of a 5-year gap from 2017-2022 due to COVID-19). For the most recent 2022 assessment, students were tested on “their ability to use ICT appropriately and safely to access, manage and evaluate information; develop new understandings; apply computational, design and systems thinking to create solutions; communicate and collaborate with others; and engage productively with emerging and future technologies”.
The NAP–ICTL sample assessment also provides ICT literacy proficiency levels. Students achieving at the highest level are able to design, create, and use information products in a way that shows technical proficiency. Students in year 6 are expected to be above the standard level 2. At this level, they are able to locate simple information from an electronic source; edit and add content to existing information products; and know basic ICT electronic security and health and safety usage. Students in year 10 should be above the standard level 3. This means they can search, retrieve, and assemble information from electronic sources in order to create information products; use conventionally recognized software commands; and recognize and avoid common ICT misuse.
Students in years 4-7 in South Australia will be provided with resource packages through initiatives in the
2022-2025 Digital Strategy. These packages, which aim to improve student digital literacy, will include information on device care, cyber safety, email and video chat, and using key software. An online tool will also be provided that can benchmark a student’s digital skills and provide insight into areas that need improvement.
The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers consist of seven different standards that teachers will meet at different levels depending on their career stage and experience. Meeting the requirements of the standards is necessary for becoming a registered teacher. Additionally, the STEM early learning and schooling initiatives mentioned earlier, such as the Digital Technologies Hub and the Digital Technologies MOOCs, have been funded by the Australian Government with the aim to develop and improve teaching capabilities. These resources are aligned with the Australian Curriculum, and include a range of quality-assured, evidence-based resources and free professional learning opportunities.
The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) has developed several tools and resources aimed at upskilling teachers in technology-enabled learning. These include short modules on a range of topics such as engaging with technology, using an ICT toolkit, using ICT in science, using ICT to teach language, and responsible use of ICT. AITSL also provide a Spotlight report, including a resource list on online and distance teaching and learning for teachers’ use and reference.
Queensland’s Data Literacy Framework describes data literate educators, teachers, and leaders in the school system as those who are able to manage, access, evaluate, and secure data. They then can communicate that data and collaborate effectively with others.
In South Australian government schools, as part of the 2023-2026 Digital Strategy, teachers are provided digital skills training packages as part of their initial training and professional development. These training packages are provided online and in-person and cover device and software use, strategies for teaching effectively online, and strategies to integrate technology into learning effectively. Western Australia also provides pre-service teacher training programs in digital technologies as a way for future teachers to upskill in a high demand area. Western Australia’s Teaching for Impact outlines what effective teachers believe, know and do to have high impact on student outcomes including that they expertly select and apply technologies to maximise every student’s learning and progress.
2.4.1. Data privacy
Australia’s 1988 Privacy Act protects the personal information of individuals and regulates how the federal, public, and private sectors may use it. This applies to all citizens regardless of age. Currently, no federal laws or regulations relating to online privacy exist, and the existing laws do not mention ICT. However, the 1988 Privacy Act is currently under review to ensure online data protections. This review occurs alongside the proposed Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (the Online Privacy Bill). This bill aims to “introduce a binding Online Privacy code for social media and certain other online platforms and increase penalties and enforcement measures.”
In Tasmania, the 2004 Personal Information Protection Act is applicable for data protection in schools. The Australian Capital Territory’s 2014 Information Privacy Act establishes the Territory Privacy Principals (TPP). These laws all apply to the public sector. Currently, no separate, territorial-level private sector data protection laws exist in any state or territory.
In 2014, the Australian Capital Territory conducted a Google and Microsoft Privacy Impact Assessment which found that Google Apps for Education (GAFE) appears to comply with the use and disclosure requirements of TPP 6 in the 2014 Information Privacy Act. They conclude that the risk of privacy harms to students is low. Nevertheless, Privacy Information Sheets are provided to parents and students so they may make an informed choice prior to using these services. All data held by the department in the Northern Territories are covered by the Data Access Policy and the Data Access Protocol.
After a comprehensive curriculum review conducted in 2020-2021, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has integrated a new substrand labeled "Privacy and Security" in the updated Australian Curriculum (Version 9.0) from kindergarten to grade 10.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Australian legislation does not have a specific offense for cyberbullying. The 1995 Criminal Code Act criminalizes the use of a mobile device or the internet to threaten, harass or seriously offend somebody. However, in order to be considered a criminal offense, the victim must be profoundly impacted either mentally or physically. The national eSafety Commissioner website is available for anyone to make reports about cyberbullying and
image-based abuse. Many states refer students and parents to the eSafety Commissioner’s website when discussing cyberbullying.
In New South Wales, the Domestic and Personal Violence Act 2007 can be used to charge cyberbullies who threaten another person through stalking or intimidation. The New South Wales 1900 Crimes Act can be used to charge cyberbullies who publish false information in order to cause the victim’s harm. New South Wales also has a 2010 Bullying of Students - Prevention and Response Policy which details the response plan for bullying, including cyberbullying. Each school must have an Anti-bullying plan in place and resources for students, parents, and teachers can be found on the NSW Anti-bullying webpage.
Tasmania’s Social Media Policy states that preventing and responding to cyberbullying is the responsibility of all parties: learners, parents, staff, and carers. Learning environments must support learners impacted by cyberbullying and all Department of Education staff must work towards preventing cyberbullying through curriculum resources designed to counter cyberbullying. Tasmania’s Secretary’s Instructions No 3 for Unacceptable Behaviour of Students and Volunteers at, and Visitors to, State Schools or School Activities specifically lists cyberbullying as unacceptable behaviour from students and volunteers.
Australian Capital Territory’s Safe and Supportive Schools policy guides schools on promoting safe, respectful and supportive school environments. Schools are mandated to have processes and procedures in place to address and prevent cyberbullying. Students must also sign an ICT acceptable use statement, as per the Communities Online: Acceptable use of ICT – Parents and Students Policy.
Australia has also incorporated elements into its updated Australian curriculum (Version 9.0) that help students recognize the content risks encompassing, but not limited to, sexually explicit, pornographic, and violent images, as well as materials containing racist, discriminatory, or hateful speech they may encounter online and the different ways to report them.
The Australian Government plays a leadership role in setting and advocating for national priorities in school education and Australia has a national Department of Education. State and territory governments have responsibility for managing schools. Each state and territory has its own education department: Australian Capital Territory Education Directorate, New South Wales Department of Education, Northern Territory Department of Education, Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment, South Australia Department for Education and Child Development, Tasmania Department for Education, Children and Young People, Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and Western Australia Department of Education.
Education Ministers’ Meetingare held approximately four times a year with the Commonwealth Minister for Education and all the education Ministers of the different states and territories. The Education Ministers’ Meeting provides a forum for national cooperation on early childhood education and care, school education, higher education and international education. The forum progresses items of national strategic importance within the portfolio collaboratively to achieve agreed objectives and priorities.
State and territory government and non−government (Catholic and Independent) education authorities are responsible for the administration and operation of schools within their jurisdictions. This includes setting assessment and curriculum standards, day to day delivery of education programs and the selection and use of educational resources. These decisions are also made at the school level to ensure education programs can be tailored to suit local community needs. This includes in the areas of distance learning, digital devices, and cyberbullying.
The Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland all promote one-to-one programs which schools can decide to implement or not through various models, including BYOD. Tasmania’s 2019 Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) Policy encourages schools to implement their own BYOD programs so long as it is not compulsory for students and the schools comply with all relevant legislative requirements, codes of practice, policies, procedures.
New South Wales policy on student use of digital devices and online services states that primary students are not allowed to bring phones into schools unless approved by their teacher, but secondary schools may determine their own policies in consultation with their school communities. Tasmania and Victoria both have policies prohibiting mobile phone use for all public-school students during school hours. Tasmania’s is under the 2019 Use of Mobile Phones by Students at School Policy ‘Off and away all day’, and Victoria’s under the 2022 Mobile Phones- Student Use policy. In Western Australia, under the 2020 Student Mobile Phones in Public Schools Policy, mobile phones are not permitted in public schools unless for medical or teacher-directed purposes. Principals must implement the ban for the duration of the school day. Schools in the Northern Territory, through the 2022 Personal Digital Devices in Educational Environments Policy, may decide to choose one of three options. These include responsible use, restricted use, or switched off and securely stored. As of 2023, the policy has been updated to state, "Students in preschool to year 6 will not be permitted to have mobile phones in their possession during the school day and smart watches must be switched to flight mode. Students from years 7 to 12 can have their mobile phone during the school day but they must be off and away all day - switched off, not accessed, seen, or heard during the school and securely stored. Smart watches must be switched to flight mode."
This profile has been reviewed with the support of the Department of Education STEM and Multilateral Policy directors.