Rob's the Digital Leader of the Year

A NSW Department of Education IT innovator has won a prestigious industry award. Pascal Adolphe reports

A man standing outside holding a glass trophy. A man standing outside holding a glass trophy.
Image: The 2024 Digital Leader of the Year, Rob McTaggart.

A former public primary school teacher and current Department of Education IT “guru”, Rob McTaggart, has been awarded the prestigious Leader of the Year Award from ICTENSW (Information & Communication Technology in Education)**.

Mr McTaggart credits the win to his propensity to always “push boundaries” and “work outside the box” when faced with an IT challenge.

“If someone needs me to build and develop something, I just jump into the fray and do it,” he said.

Mr McTaggart said he felt “humbled and kind of excited” to win the award.

“It’s the kind of work that’s all about the user’s experience and the learner’s journey. That’s where real change can happen,” he said.

One of his finest achievements was the development of a Professional Learning solution, PLBuilder and the Digital Lanyard, for the Department of Education.

“It’s a comprehensive suite of apps designed to deliver remote professional learning at scale,” Mr McTaggart said.

“It was initially developed for the Quality Teaching Practice (QTP) unit within the Department during COVID when professional learning was forced to shift online.

“PLBuilder has since grown to support over 12,000 teachers per year across multiple educational streams.”

Mr McTaggart also codeveloped the stem.T4L Learning Library to support teachers and students using the stem.T4L kits in schools. Its innovative design won a gold award in the Step Two Intranet and Digital Workplace Awards, and it has received almost two million site visits.

He has also led the implementation of low code solutions with the Power Platform including projects to reduce admin burden for teachers.

“I designed and co-developed the first two issues of the T4LKids magazine for T4L (Technology for Learning) which has gone on to be a strong asset for the Department and is now produced by a renowned author and professional designers.”

“I'm fortunate to be able to build products to address a specific need and then hand them over to dedicated experts within the Department who can make them even better.”

Before that Mr McTaggart developed the NRMA Future of Transport Challenge which has run successfully for eight years.

“The challenge tasks Years 5-10 students to tackle real-world transport challenges,” he said. “Using a design thinking framework, the challenge guides young minds towards developing practical, innovative solutions.”

Magazines on a table. Magazines on a table.
Image: Rob co-developed the first two issues of the .T4LKids magazine.

The Education Ambassador for HP PPS Australia, Brett Salakas, nominated Mr McTaggart for the award.

“He is one of the hidden engines behind some of the largest digital initiatives in the state,” Mr Salakas said.

“Rob McTaggart is one of those exceptional, understated achievers, whose influence has been pivotal yet often remains behind the scenes.

“The breadth of large-scale projects within the NSW Department of Education that have significantly benefited from Rob’s discreet guidance is innumerable.

“Rob’s name and reputation in the digital learning arena have become synonymous with innovation, reliability and outstanding quality, truly embodying the essence of leadership in the digital age.

“I think it is a tremendous honour for a Department leader to better all the private schools that dominate the membership base of the organisation. It says a lot about the respect that Rob has in the digital technologies community. A good story for the excellence of public education.”

*ICTENSW is a non-profit professional teaching association for ICT, Computer Science and STEM Educator in NSW.

A student wearing a headset sitting in front of a computer monitor holding a pen. A student wearing a headset sitting in front of a computer monitor holding a pen.
Image: Rob helped design technology that assisted students and teachers during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
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