TikTok, memes, blogs, podcasts and Instagram posts are set to take their place on the national English school curriculum, displacing* “stale, old-fashioned” writing tasks.
Deakin University researchers have been given nearly half a million dollars by the Federal Government to explore ways to bring digital writing to the secondary school curriculum.
As well as analysing Romeo and Juliet in an essay, students of the future may be asked to script and design a TikTok about the play instead.
Lead researcher Dr Lucinda McKnight said there was a sense of urgency about the need to update the way English is taught in schools and bring the curriculum “kicking and screaming into the 21st century”.
She said the approach did not involve ditching the classics, but updating their teaching to involve digital writing opportunities that engaged* students and was more relevant* to their daily lives.
“This is important for student engagement and behaviour,” Dr McKnight said.
“We are anticipating the careers and workforce of the future and digital literacy is important for Australians moving forward.
“We are stuck with stale and old-fashioned formulaic* essays, such as those written for NAPLAN, which have no audience and no purpose,” she said.
“It’s time for real writing, not fake NAPLAN.”
Her comments come as students around the country are in the middle of NAPLAN testing.
Dr McKnight said students “could make a TikTok lesson featuring characters from Romeo and Juliet, drawing on their knowledge and insight*”.
“Or they could do a virtual reality script for a tour of the Shrine of Remembrance* or create a personal profile for a professional networking* site,” she said.
“And instead of writing a newspaper article, they could write a news blog or a podcast about the AFL or an Instagram post.”
She said students would still be required to stick to the same standards of grammar, spelling, paragraphing and sentence structure while producing content for these digital platforms.
Dr McKnight said the findings of the three-year study, which was funded by an Australian Research Council grant, would also apply to primary school content.
The study will involve a national survey of teachers and an examination of the national textbook archive* to see what students have learnt previously and digital labs in schools to help form future policy and curriculum.
Digital content would not require students to be on social media platforms in ways that were not safe or private, Dr McKnight said.
The project comes as the latest version of the Australian curriculum has just been released after a lengthy review.
The project blog can be found at teachingdigitalwriting.wordpress.com
- displacing: moving something or someone from usual or original position
- engaged: interested, involved, busy doing something
- relevant: related to a subject or to something happening or being discussed
- formulaic: made according to a formula
- insight: understanding the nature of something
- Shrine of Remembrance: national memorial honouring Australians in war and peace
- networking: the activity of meeting people who are useful to know, especially in a job
- archive: where old records or documents are held so they can be accessed in future
- How much money has the Federal Government given Deakin University to explore digital writing?
- Careers and the workforce of the future may require what, according to Dr McKnight?
- What does she suggest future students might do with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?
- Which same standards will students have to continue to meet?
- What is the planned duration of the study and will it include primary school content?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Cinderella post
Pretend you are Cinderella and you are posting on social media about your night at the ball. What would you say to sum up your evening and not anger your stepmother and stepsisters?!
Include some hashtags of the main events and tag a venue where the ball may have been held. Try and make it as authentic as possible.
Share your post with your classmates.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Digital Technologies; Personal and Social
Do you think activities such as the one above, are more engaging and authentic for young learners these days than writing articles and essays? What would you like to see more of in the English curriculum for your age?
Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Digital Technologies; Critical and Creative Thinking
Find a bland sentence from the article to up-level. Can you add more detail and description? Can you replace any “said” words with more specific synonyms?
Have you outdone yourself and used some really great vocabulary throughout your writing? First, well done. Second, let’s ensure everyone can understand it by adding a glossary of terms. Pick three of your wow words and create a glossary for each word to explain what it means.