Please indicate if your Initiative is an Established Initiative.
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Anne Shaw: NETRACKS LLEN
Maree Timms: Galen Catholic College
Anne Geddis : CSU Wangaratta Regional Study Centre
GOTAFE: Kel Vincent
As above plus Education Advantage
Sue Synott: Cathedral College Wangaratta
Jody Vlahandreas: Wangaratta High School.
Leif Sallows: Borinya Community Partnership
School & Community Engagement Coordinator for Wangaratta Regional Study Centre CSU
STEAM Inspirations for our region
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
As a result of a request from a local teacher who identified low enrolments in STEM subjects in her Regional school, a small group from a diverse range of organisations came together to address this problem. This seed of an idea lead to the delivery of an event in August 2016 to showcase STEM. The momentum from that event lead to a collaborative partnership, Digital Technologies Advisory Committee (DTAC), that has now initiated more than 30 events & projects in less than 2 years.
Founding DTAC partners - Charles Sturt University, GOTAFE, NETRACKS LLEN & Galen Catholic College developed a shared vision to gather teachers, students, community & industry from local Wangaratta and North Eastern Victorian regions and allow them to learn together. Other partners have joined this collaboration as the diversity of events has grown rapidly. DTAC has now registered as an Incorporated Association as we look to the longer term future & acknowledging the need for good governance & long term sustainability.
Our goals are to expose teachers, students, community & industry to the unlimited possibilities of the future, and foster the development and talent to create Digital citizens, Digital workers and Digital makers.
We’re committed to making a difference to the lives of learners in regional Victoria, and we’re excited to help bring our community into their future.
How would you say diversity is embraced within your organisation or sector? Are there diversity initiatives in place or are diversity approaches new to your sector?
The partnership reflects diversity in sectors of the educational space, including TAFE, University, Schools, Local Learning & Employment network and Business. Schools include, primary, secondary, independent, government, home school networks and flexible learning centres.
The diversity outcomes in this project are to encourage more girls and students of mixed ability to join & embrace the Digital world. The number of female participants has been increasing each year. The program is also open to all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds. Equality for gender, sociodemographic, learning ability & styles, & cultural backgrounds is a true value of the program.
We have established a Girls in STEM network with specific events targeting girls' participation. We have a network of mentors drawn from the local community.
DTAC is committed to encourage the participation of students from rural & isolated areas to engage & encourage in the full range of opportunities by making a diverse range of STEAM programs available to demonstrate the breadth of opportunity for learning & for future careers. Breaking down some barriers to participation such as transport & cost are taken into consideration. We follow some diversity initiatives in place within the partnership sectors. For example travel costs are subsidised & scholarships are available so no student misses out due to affordability. We follow cultural guidelines for first Australians & other cultural groups & ensure access for people with disabilities.
We also encourage schools & community groups to experience & embrace a range of Technologies through developing a lending library of resources available to schools & community groups.
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initiative, what actions were taken and why?
The process began with The Idea, then the establishment of the partnership, then planning implementation & evaluation of the initial event. The review of the evaluation highlighted the need for improved STEM & Digital Literacy skills of in the region.
This lead to the partnership being formalised & future events planned & implemented. The recognition of the very low Australian Digital Inclusion index (powered by Morgan Research 2017) in our region, measured as affordability, accessibility & ability, encouraged DTAC to develop a long term program logic, to increase the levels of digital literacy & STEM opportunitie sfor our region.
To continue meeting identified needs & respond to the many great opportunities & emerging ideas the DTAC committee meet fortnightly to facilitate & develop emerging opportunities. This supports a culture of 'plan, implement, evaluate, plan', cycle.
Demonstrate the leadership shown in driving the initiative and fostering behavioural and organisational change.
The willingness and commitment of the founding DTAC members, to work collaboratively to achieve a shared vision, has resulted in a partnership model that is unique in the education sector in our region. DTAC members share resources, time & people skills across their respective memberships to increase the capacity of all groups. The recognition of this increased capacity has encouraged other organisations to join DTAC, which now includes other schools, industry & business groups. The success of the DTAC model & programs has generated strong links & interest with local media & community organisations developing an 'Excellence in STEM', culture in the region.
This DTAC model has demonstrated the leadership & courage to step into new spaces & pilot new & emerging ideas with great success.
Behavioural changes within schools & community have been noted from initially working with one local school that achieved great success in STEM & digital programs, now recognised by many schools, keen to participate. After initial reluctance & support of school administration due to time & finance barriers the awareness by schools of opportunities & value of engaging with initiatives beyond the school setting has encouraged many more schools to get on board. Success in school & learning beyond the school gate is now seen as 'doable'.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
Initial resistance from other schools, apart from the founding partner school, was evident at the start. The passion & commitment of the original DTAC members enabled us to forge ahead with the initiatives to demonstrate the success & value of participation within schools & the community. Developing a flexible approach, including taking resources to schools & providing programs in & out of school hours has seen more schools encouraged to participate & develop a confidence to bring innovation into their teaching practice to benefit their students.
DTAC's focus on the development of strong relationships, networks & supportive structures have gradually broken down barriers to the reluctance to fully participate. With each success we see more confidence & courage within the professional network to take part & support new learning initiatives that will cater for lifelong learning for a diverse community. The representation on the DTAC committee has grown from one school to include the 3 local schools & over 28 schools have participated in our events. We also now have business representation on our committee to forge stronger partnerships & ensure relevance to future careers etc within the future workplace.
Professional development for teachers in regional areas is traditionally not readily available, with cost & travel time often being prohibitive. To overcome difficulties to complete professional development, DTAC provides low cost regionally based PD. This significantly increases the capacity of the teachers in our region to become abreast of new & emerging priorities.
Detail the follow up or response to the project or initiative by the organisation /industry /sector. For example has it been extended for a further year, or has the scope been expanded?
From the initial event, with the clear objective of highlighting the importance of STEM for the future, the project has grown to include over 30 events, workshops or activities in under 2 years. There is now longer term planning for sustainability with the agility & ability to respond to new & emerging innovation in a timely manner, recognising the fast pace of change in STEM. See attached video for quick overview of events from the first STEM Expo event in August 2016 to samples of 2018 events.
Please provide 2 references being the beneficiaries or people that experienced the change (as a result of the initiative). Details to be provided should include:
4. Phone number
6. Short description (up to 250 words) of association with the nominated diversity initiative eg as a beneficiary, experiencing the outcome, etc.
Galan Catholic College
6.DTAC has been a huge support to Galen Catholic College’s students and staff. DTAC has been able to bring resources to the regional area, that we would have to travel to Melbourne for. Through the Digital Harvest Conference, VEX Robotics PD’s, Coding Workshops our staff have been able to participate in workshops by high quality educators and speakers. Our students have also had opportunities provided by DTAC to engage in a wide variety of experiences – STEM EXPO, Food & Fibre events, Health Forums, Science Days, Winton Hands on Trade day, Coding competitions, Robotics and Coding Workshops.
DTAC have provided a great number of opportunities for the Galen VEX team to highlight their skills and share their passion, by presenting at a number of events, and supporting regional VEX Competitions and the Australian National Championships when held in Wangaratta. These events would not have been possible without the support of the DTAC partnerships.
DTAC has also been very proactive with increasing girls in STEM, our female students have been able to connect with many industry role models through events such as the Girls in STEM Breakfast and the Girls in STEM – World Café. These events have been able to empower and inspire our female students knowing they have a supportive network behind them.
DTAC has given our regional students many opportunities to thrive and shine. It has broadened their world view and connected them to a large and supportive community network.
Self employed consultant
Parent of participant in DTAC Activities.
6.I’m both impressed by, and grateful for, how much DTAC has accomplished in the last 2 years.
Providing so many opportunities to connect and learn that I didn’t have growing up in Wangaratta 30 years ago. My 10 year old daughter has developed a strong interest in coding and design from participating in both robotics workshops that DTAC ran this year. It makes a big difference when she can experience these workshops with her peers, especially her close girlfriends because they now share this interest and are advocating for more of it in their school curriculum.
When I attended the inaugural ‘Women in STEM’ breakfast, I was amazed by the calibre and variety of women with STEM careers in our community – each were strong, approachable role models for the students in attendance too. It makes such a difference for kids, especially girls, to see first hand the career possibilities in STEM in their own communities. If you can see it, you can become it.
I also admire DTAC’s energy, commitment and collaborative culture that drives so many STEM initiatives and activities that provide everyone in our community affordable, welcoming opportunities to participate and learn.
What outcomes have been achieved against overall program or organisational performance? Using metrics specify these outcomes, for example financial, growth, policy achievement, performance or capabciltiy uplift?
Growth in type & number of events in the region: 2 events in 2016 to 30 plus in 2018
2016: STEM Expo & Vex Robotics National Championships.
2018: Expos, Career events, workshops, professional development.
Growth in Particpation:
2016: 1000 participants at expo, workshops & robotic activities.
2017: over 2000 student program participants at, careers events, expos ,workshops, leadership & PD events. Planetarium highlighting Indigenous astronomy, Google Expeditions,drone pilot training,Digital Harvest conference, Digital Resources Lending Library established for schools & community. 180 participants in professional development, many community groups linking to programs, aged care, Rotary,Zonta.
2018 to date: events as per 2017 plus Girls in STEM network established, planning & development of Digital Hub in conjunction with State & Local government to service all sectors of the community.Linking disengaged students with local initiatives .eg GOTAFE Innovation Hub, (3D Maker space). Building links with community coworker space & digital start up community.
What do you consider your significant achievement with this Initiative and why?
One of the most significant achievements is the growth in both the number & type of events. The much greater awareness of the community about the use of technology & its role in the future.
We have seen students grow and learn through our events. The events have broadened their perspective, ignited their passions & increased important skills such as leadership, public speaking, engaging with community groups (Aged Care). We have fostered cross age tutoring & mentoring in the programs. The range of activities are catering for students with the full range of abilities & learning styles. We see students with lower academic achievements thriving plus students with high ability being challenged developing passion in their learning, some of whom were previously disengaged. They are more confident, knowing they have a number of resources at their finger tips, which include some wonderful female role models.
DTAC had its beginnings in engaging students of a high school age, it now is engaging in both primary and secondary aged students.
Through its success and visible outcomes for regional students, we have now created greater links and partnerships with Government agencies, Economic Development Dept of the Rural City of Wangaratta and also local service clubs. With the support of these organisations our programs and events can only become stronger, and we will become a Regional Centre of STEAM Excellence.
A significant milestone towards this concept is the acquisition of a 'space'. This will create a' Wangaratta Digital Hub' from which we can coordinate our programs. A place where anyone can come, learn, connect, network and play with Digital tech. This space is situated in the CBD of Wangaratta within the Wangaratta Library, which is already a hub and hive of activity.
Who inspires you from a diversity perspective? Who provides leadership in diversity and why?
The main drivers behind DTAC is a small band of females, who have various skills and networks. The combination of skills and passion have all combined to create a formidable team, inspired by a shared vision & values. Each team member of DTAC has a passion to create opportunities for the next generation, so that they can thrive and have the skills to enable them to be adaptable and employable. We want to 'future proof' our community.
The success of our first event, the STEM Expo and the engagement, smiles, laughter and 'wow' moments we created for students and local community have inspired us all to keep going. We have not stopped, and we are reaping the rewards by the positive feedback and enjoyment seen in the faces of the participants at each event.
Being female leaders and strong advocates of STEAM, we 'are' the role models and leaders, we are inspired by each other, there are 'no egos'. We have no fear, and we energise each other and are able to share this passion with others. We have gathered a wonderful group of industry role models, including many females to support and inspire our regional students. Many of these industry role models have had unconventional pathways to their current career. They have shared their stories with students, through our events and given them hope and inspiration.
We are extremely fortunate, as DTAC started with a seed of an idea, in a short space of time it has become a group of change makers and game changers. We can say with confidence we are changing the lives of regional students in NE Victoria.