The development of curiosity, perseverance, resilience, adaptability, collaboration and creativity are just some of the skills that educators have long acknowledged as crucial for students to thrive. How we embed this skill set within the student experience is a pertinent question. COVID-19 as a global pandemic has taught us first-hand the importance of such a skill set. We have had to pivot to a ‘new normal’ at a rapid rate, and have adapted to respond to the needs of our students, our teachers and our community by introducing and rolling out a blended approach to curriculum delivery. As Cahapay (2020) states, “a curriculum goal that must be emphasised in the new normal curriculum is to develop preparedness competencies among the learners”, and careful review is needed to ensure that the most successful elements remain in play.
At part of our teacher-directed online learning response to COVID-19, MLC introduced a blended model of curriculum delivery. This meant teachers were still engaging in face-to-face classroom experiences either in person or via our preferred digital platform, with our e-learning opportunities and self-paced tasks set via our learning management system, and students engaging with multiple communication and feedback systems. Having observed how quickly our staff and students were able to pivot into something completely unknown only a few months ago has left us with a desire to deeply question which parts of the online experience have transformed practice in our setting.
To innovate effectively in education, it is crucial that the pedagogy is real, relevant and relatable. We must keep up to date with the latest industry developments and curriculum advancements, encouraging students to think differently and flexibly. Entrepreneurship and enterprise features heavily in what is offered at MLC this year. Allen (2020) discusses the impact start-ups and entrepreneurs can have on our students. The disruption the virus has caused is a global problem; however, we can and must overcome it. Innovating effectively means engaging with the tools at hand. As Kehoe (2019) discusses, for a long time Australians have been devoted to the pursuit of creating a great lifestyle, trading off our “lucky country” slogan, however, we have been slow to grasp onto innovative ideas and business opportunities. Rather than question how long it will be until things ‘go back to normal,’ we should question which components of our new approach could and should be here to stay.
INNOVATION FOCUS AT MLC
A feature for 2020 has been the integration of online learning into our regular mode of lesson delivery. Virtual learning is an area we aim to continue exploring so our girls can experience the best of the Claremont ‘on campus’ experience as well as what is on offer beyond the gates of MLC. We are working with several innovation leaders on these projects and look forward to rolling out a re-imagined Walton Leadership Institute in 2021.
This year has also seen our Year 10 girls experience an alternative work-experience programme. The MLC Career Innovators Programme was designed to promote the contemporary skills necessary for girls to thrive in the workforce of the future. The programme, offered by MLC in conjunction with our partners the University of Western Australia (UWA), Morgan Stanley and Australian technology and education company BOP Industries, gave students the opportunity to work within an intrapreneurship, focusing on innovation, collaboration, problem solving, and critical, agile and flexible thinking. The students worked in collaborative groups to solve scenario-based problems presented by industry leaders, including Singapore Airlines, Accenture, Aurecon and Rio Tinto. The culmination to the week of work involved the girls pitching their solutions to these scenario-based problems. Scott Millar, CEO of BOP Industries commented that “A number of our industry partners commented that they would be lucky to get this quality of presentation from most university students!”, while programme judge, UWA Professor Anas Ghadouani, praised the standard of pitches as “outstanding”.
Watch a wrap up of the Innovators Programme below.
The remainder of 2020 will include the launch of the MLC Innovators of the Future programme. This will see our Years 6–9 students embarking on the process of design thinking to engage in project-based learning opportunities. Bold, innovative, pioneering programmes have and will remain on the agenda for the months and years to come as MLC forges ahead preparing our students for a continually evolving future world of work.
Director of Innovation