Digital Classroom Officer
The Digital Classroom Officer (DCO) program has created more than 1,000 DCO roles improving teacher confidence in using digital tools and delivering better student engagement and outcomes.
There has been a lot of change in how education is delivered both in infrastructure and ways of learning in recent years. To deal with this change, the role of DCO was created to help schools navigate that transformation in a sustainable way.
The program offers a one-day-a-week funded role for teachers to support school staff by building confidence to embed technology into their teaching, learning and daily practice. In turn, the DCO is mentored and receives professional learning (PL) from the program’s Digital Support Team (DST).
Welcome to Thurgoona Public School. My name is Jessica Brooker. I'm the principal at our wonderful school. We're located in Albury, which is in southern NSW. One of the biggest key differences in this technology rollout was that it came with that staffing allocation. So it came with a person who was responsible for driving the uplift. Not just in building the capacity of staff to use the technology for their own programming, their own teacher use, but then building the capacity and the confidence of staff to put technology into their classroom, into their teaching practice.
So moving to digital programming has been a huge gain for our school and for the teachers. So we're finding in rooms like our kindergarten classroom, the teachers are using their Rural Access Gap laptop that was provided to them, they are mirroring it straight onto their screens. They might have their PowerPoints for the new units of work in there and they're annotating straight onto them. They're using their digital pens that came with it to click through the slides.
The new laptops integrating with the new mobile learning devices or the mini PCs that have been provided through RAG have definitely changed the way our Stage 1 teachers are teaching programming, recording their assessments.
From the beginning of the program, we identified quite early that a school our size and from where we were prior in terms of the limited technology that we had and the limited expertise that we had, we knew that then there was a need to school fund or school support, an increase of a day with Kristen's role. So we did that very early on so that we could make sure that we supported as many of our staff as we could as consistently as we could.
There was a lot of trial and error with digital programming. The regular weekly mentor sessions with the digital learning advisors were the key to the whole project. It wouldn't have sustained for the 12 months without them because it just keeps the momentum going, it keeps the ideas fresh. It's a good way of passing on what the current trends are or anything new that's coming up.
I certainly think that where we are now is going to need to continue to be supported. We want to continue to grow in terms of the staff capacity to use technology, but also for our students what's coming in terms of how technology changes and how our kids are engaging with that.
It's so important that our staff are at the top of that. And the only way that's gonna happen from a school perspective, I believe, is if we continue to invest in a Digital Classroom Officer position. Moving forward and through our reflections in the back half of this year, we're certainly going to see that role is going to need to continue to be in place at a school level, even if it means that it's school funded in some type of way, but in order to ensure that where we are now we don't just stagnate, that we continue to grow and build on the remarkable things that we've already achieved.
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Funded and mentored 1,005 DCOs under the Rural Access Gap program.
DST has completed engagement sessions at 1,051 schools.
More than 20,000 hours of elective PL and 3,400 hours of on-demand PL have been facilitated.
DCO program will continue until the end of 2023.
Upgrades to infrastructure and connectivity
Schools under the DCO program have integrated newly-funded interactive displays, student and teacher devices into their daily lessons to create new and more engaging ways of learning.
This has been supported by upgrades to IT infrastructure, devices, connectivity and professional development under the Rural Access Gap program, which was a runner-up in the 2022 NSW Premier’s Awards for Highest Quality Education.
Program Director Wayne Poole said: “We’ve seen schools grab this initiative and run with it, investing their own funds to extend the position to more days per week.
“The program is so popular with schools that more than 66% elected to continue past the initial year,” he said. “School admin staff are [also] benefitting from operating from a cloud environment and digitising communication with parents and carers.”
Key DCO outcomes
Surveys of teachers and support staff [2022 and 2023] reported that:
More than 85% of teachers have consistently reported confidence in using digital tools.
80% of respondents (mostly teachers) feel the program’s initiatives have made their daily tasks easier.
As of Term 2 2023, 82% of teachers find digital tools useful for teaching and learning.
More than 70% of teachers consistently report digitisation has enhanced their skills.
Digitisation has freed up time in the teachers’ day allowing more time for one-on-one student support, and greater capacity to be more present in the classroom for effective and engaging teaching.
Becoming a Digital Classroom Officer
As a Digital Classroom Officer, my role is to support teachers in embedding STEM and IT resources authentically within curriculum areas as well as to support them in relation to workflow and working efficiently, working well collaborating as teams to improve learning in a school environment.
I really see it as though you're like the middle man between the department and all this amazing tech knowledge and resources and the school.
I'd describe the role as finding and implementing the technology needs of the school and staff helping up-skill staff to feel comfortable to use it within the classroom and within their general programming and planning.
You don't need to be someone who is okay with all components of ICT and digital technologies. You just need to be willing to play with it and trial it yourself and therefore coach other people from what you've learned.
It's a very diverse role, so it's from rolling out technology devices to giving support in the classroom, as well as running quick bite sessions in the morning.
My role as a Digital Classroom Officer has been one of guidance with a lot of staff.
The buy-in that I've had from some teachers has been a really big success. Teachers are coming to me now and going "oh I did this and it worked really well!" and then "Oh that's great, what can we do next, and how can we use that somewhere else" so that's been really good.
The Digital Classroom Officer role will just open up so much more, and time to really help train and support the teachers more so it won't just be about infrastructure.
I'm looking forward to the actual implementation and the improvement of technology use right across the school.
I think one of the best pieces of advice I could give to somebody who's taking on this role is that you're not expected to be an expert, you are learning.
You're on this learning journey with your staff.
For someone that was taking on this role in another school, I would strongly encourage them to learn as much as they can like take advantage of what's on offer.
There are all these amazing resources and the mentorship and no one makes you feel dumb which is really wonderful, and really use that DCO time to learn how to make the technology learning authentic in the classroom.
My advice for any DCO coming into this role in future is go for it. Jump in the deep end, be scared of nothing because there's heaps of support from mentors, the network of DCOs, the resourcing is there in regards to curriculum and project planning. The T4L library is vast and there are lots of great people who are happy to get on board and help you.
You don't need to have a high-end skill level in IT or STEM to do a DCO role well.
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For more information about the program, go to our Projects and initiatives section.