Essay Content Winners!

Literatu and its co-sponsors are pleased to announce the winners of the “Advance Australia… THERE!” essay competition. From the hundreds of submissions, three winners have been selected at the Primary, Secondary and Senior levels.  The winning essays are shared at the bottom of this post.

We appreciate all teachers’ and students’ participation in the contest.  As companies involved in technology and education, we wanted to support schools as they target improvements in what is often the most challenging skill for students to learn and teachers to teach.

We applaud the teachers and schools who have foster these excellent efforts.


Primary School

  • Vanessa Kite, Macarthur Anglican School. Teacher: Kylie Elling

High School

  • Olga Medvedieva, Queenwood School for Girls. Teacher: Amy Hall

Senior School

  • Michaela Swank, St Andrews Christian College. Teacher: Irena Yevlahova

Honourable Mentions

  • Nimrah Sarwar, St Aloysius College, Victoria. Teacher: Brian Brooks
  • Andie Hilton, Brigidine College St Ives. Teacher: Sharon Cimen


Senior Secondary School
Michaela Swank, St Andrew’s Christian College

Technology improves by the minute with new discoveries and advances being made all the time. It is a tool that has affected many professions and ways of life making tasks quicker and easier. As time goes on we can see technology spreading into areas that have never felt its presence before. Its purpose? To make our lives comfortable and more efficient.

Education is one area that utilises technology in almost every field. Whether it be admin, presentations in class, research, or access to the best learning materials, it is all made easier with technology. It provides better communication between students and teachers helping to improve the quality of learning. There are even online classes and video lessons that are made available so people can study when and where it is suitable for them. This allows people to further their learning around their busy schedules and creates opportunity for those who might not be able to afford more expensive alternatives. Education is an area that technology can be used for good, to improve our country and equip people to live in this digital age. After all, technology becomes useless if we have no one who knows how to use it.

The work force is also heavily affected by technological advances. Each year thousands of jobs are replaced by technology. In an article from 2015 it was estimated that over 40% of jobs would be replaced by the year 2025. Though it may be cheaper to run the machine, it puts many people out of a job. It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed however it is not the only side of the story. There are many instances in which technology has created jobs. We need people to maintain it. We rely on technology to do many things but like us it is not perfect and at times it malfunctions. Many businesses have a social media account to reach out to the people and someone needs to take care of that. Engineers and inventors are needed to create new technology and improve old technology. It comes back to education. We must know how to utilise it for our benefit. As our technology advances so must we.

Australia has many opportunities in which to use technology but it needs to be discussed thoroughly and looked at from all points of view. Does it benefit the majority? Is it going to be used improve and advance our nation? We need to use technology to improve our world, especially for those that are struggling to keep up. We need to stop and think about where we are going with this. What kind of future do we want to create for our nation? A future that allows us to use our gifts and be confident in our skills and abilities. A future that causes us to look at the people around us and be inspired to create something that might improve their lives. We need to encourage a generation that can take the technology we have created and use it to make our world a better place. These are the things that must be considered and taken into account as we march towards an age that is dominated by technology.



High School
Olga Medvedieva, Queenwood School for Girls

Technology: a discipline that altered the world through its innovative vision of progress. Without a doubt, its ubiquitous presence influences all aspects of our modern life, procuring unprecedented insights that challenge our deepest convictions. Consequently, it would not be an exaggeration to say that it not only affects Australia’s present, but also its future. This essay examines the positive and negative effects of technology and its potential to transform life in Australia.

Despite its prevalence in our daily lives, the rate of technological progress can still be a bit astonishing, if not disconcerting, for some. For instance, Artificial Intelligence, or AI, an area of computer science that simulates human intelligence, is still a perplexing and enigmatic concept for many. Yet in reality, AI actually promises a plethora of benefits for modern society, including accurate medical diagnosis and treatment, superseding humans in hazardous jobs and eliminating surplus expenditures during manufacturing. In schools, AI can be implemented in routine tasks, such as grading and book-keeping, enabling teachers to direct their full attention to the students. However, despite all these advantages, AI has various other implications. For example, machines have no conception of ethics or judgement, and will therefore act exactly as programmed regardless of circumstances. Furthermore, their increased involvement in our lives may undermine privacy and even democracy, as government and company surveillance will inevitably expand.

In the past, humans often compromised the natural environment in favour of material progress. However, in recent years we have attempted to mitigate environmental concerns using various technologies, such as solar power. Considering Australia’s exposure to solar radiation, this is a viable investment, as it alleviates the effects of global warming, is cheaper in long-term, and statistically creates more jobs than the gas and oil industries. In an educational context, solar power can have a unique application; to illustrate this, since most school buildings have flat, spacious rooftops, solar panels can be installed on top of them to generate energy. This will not only accelerate the renunciation of fossil fuels, but it will also enrich the curriculum with real-life examples of the benefits of renewable energy. Nonetheless, the drawbacks of solar power must also be considered, including dependability on weather, space requirement and high initial costs.

When Pokemon-Go launched in 2016, it was an unparalleled hit that took the world by storm. For many it was the first glimpse into Augmented Reality, which is a technology that enhances one’s view of the world through the partial incorporation of digital elements. AR has the potential to completely transfigure our existence as human beings, impacting areas such as geolocation, engineering and entertainment. In terms of education, AR provides an immersive experience that aids in visualizing abstract concepts; for example, math students may gain from visual cues and diagrams in conjunction with the main lecture. Nevertheless, it is also true that there are some disadvantages to Augmented Reality, such as the issue of being divested of genuine experiences and preferring a world that lacks verisimilitude. Moreover, critics of the AR revolution contend that it will have the same ramifications as AI pertaining to mass surveillance and hacking, and consequently should not be entrusted with privacy.

Technological advancement is a continual process that is developing at a striking pace. Through its use, we are able to fulfil our predictions, and even transcend them beyond any possible expectation. While we may not know what the imminent future holds in store, one thing is certain: technology is revolutionizing Australia as we know it, and it is incumbent on us to determine that its progression fosters our benefit, and not detriment.



Primary School
Vanessa Kite

How Should We Use Technology to Create the Best Future for Australia?

Technology in Australia is becoming more advanced each and every day. At some point in time, we would be able to get ‘super’ watches, VR for people in the outback/nursing homes and even dash cams on cars that can spot crashes and send off warnings. This is how we can make the best future possible for Australia by using technology.

Could you imagine if Australia made technology that was so incredible that using just a watch you would be able to track your calories, allergies, vitamins and even your cancers/illnesses? It would be brilliant. All you would have to do is scan your food (not the package information) and it would tell you the calories and the vitamins included within the food. Inventing something like this would be an improvement to Australia and would help us all by, keeping us aware of how many calories we are eating and digesting, telling us if we are allergic to an ingredient inside of the food, seeing and telling us the vitamins included, and even scanning ourselves to make sure we aren’t sick. We would be able to track if we were for example, vitamin D deficient, and we would be able to get on top of that quicker.

Australia has already made a huge leap into the world of VR. We have created new experiences for people around the country. However, this modern-day invention could significantly improve the learning of children who live out in the desert. Being able to put on VR goggles and go to places such as museums, sacred sites, and even go to other countries would make learning easier and quicker. It would cost less and there are really no limits. The benefits caused by this would be a smarter generation, children that will be able to grow up and do well paying jobs that help the community. The whole country would benefit from it.

VR would also really help elderly people living in nursing homes. Most of them can not leave the nursing home, and they have to get permission from a family member even if they are allowed to leave. Being able to escape and go to the beach, the forest, places like Uluru, and even America or England would improve their self esteem levels, causing them to live longer and happier lives. This would help Australia by letting people not have to worry about the parents or grandparents in nursing homes as much, as they would know that they are happy and enjoying themselves. It will also help the family member/s who put them there feel less guilty about doing so. All in all, VR in nursing homes would help Australia.

Dash cams in cars. Ok, they already exist. However, has anyone thought of dash cams that when they register a nearby crash, automatically send an alert to the police station and hospital. If this was invented it would mean that no crash would be unregistered, and emergency vehicles would reach the destinations quicker and more efficiently. This would improve Australia’s roads by making them hardly ever have unregistered crashes. It would also improve people’s trust in the emergency services because they would get there fast. Citizen’s mental health would improve because they wouldn’t worry about not getting the right help quick enough. This would make Australian people feel safer and more secure.

Australia could use technology to improve Australia by a landslide. We could make ‘super watches’, VR for people in nursing homes or the outback, and even dash cams on cars that instantly sent a notification to the police and hospital if a crash is sighted. Using these things would benefit Australia in lots of ways. There is more than one way to go with technology, choose the right way and improve Australia for the better.

NAPLAN Resources

As schools find gaps in students’ core skills across the NAPLAN domains, the following resources might be helpful.  Please use the comments link to share your favourite resources.


Language Conventions



General Resources

  • ABC Splash – Games across subjects and year levels

From NSW SMART Teaching

Language Conventions (Spelling & Grammar)




Grattan Institute’s Adaptive Education Report

We welcome the Grattan Institute’s recent report, “Towards an adaptive education system in Australia.”  In it, researcher Peter Goss argues that “our current education system is not fit for purpose given the complex challenges it faces.”  These challenges are familiar to anyone interested in Australian education: the flat or backwards performance on important tests, the number of students not finding success after high school and inequality between schools.  Goss rightly identifies the two key aspects to addressing these are that changes to education must be systemic and based on real evidence.

“The status quo is not working”, says Goss.  We see this in NAPLAN Band ranges

Many have been arguing this case for years and championed specific pedagogical approaches such as Problem-based Learning, Understanding by Design and STEM to name only a few.  In fact, I have been involved in many of these initiatives – and saw them fail to make the systemic change required and advocated for by Goss.  We are past the era of needing “new ideas,” but instead need to put these (and many other) ideas to the test.  The “Adaptive Educational” model put forth by Goss will be familiar to those who have pursued a “closed-loop” or “continuous improvement” process.  But like Goss, we find few such efforts used in ways that effect whole-school or sector change.  This is not for lack of trying on the part of schools and teachers, but from a lack of good data.

Fortunately, the ability to use data as evidence is more possible today than it was a decade ago.  The main reason for this readiness is twofold: a growing cultural appreciation of “Big Data” and as well as the sophistication of the tools required to make these data insights available to schools and their communities.

For over four years, Literatu has been developing powerful analytical software for schools and we can confirm a general “flat or backward” direction of student performance in NAPLAN scores.  But we are seeing something very powerful as well.  School leadership teams and whole staff rooms are excited and energised to engage in just the targeted type of teaching identified as essential by the Grattan Institute’s report.  At issue was not an unwillingness of schools to take such action, but the fact that students’ learning gaps were buried in spreadsheets and hard-to-use software.  What seems to be a dawning realisation by schools that “there must be a better way” has happily led to a boom in schools’ use of Literatu’s NAPLAN Explorer.  This diagnostic tool provides easy access to detailed information in a friendly dashboard so that classroom teachers – not just school leaders – can quickly gain insights that naturally lead to targeted teaching and differentiation.  What’s even better is that these teacher actions generate new data on student performance which feeds-back to validate or challenge the effectiveness of the interventions trialled.  This is such an exciting time to be an educator because after decades of working “in the dark,” real evidence is at our fingertips and a single-click away.  To repeat a very apt phrase, data-inspired teaching “is like what you’ve always done, but unlike anything you’ve done before.”

We encourage schools interested in seeing how easily teachers can grow an adaptive educational system to contact us for a friendly online demonstration.



Literatu Writing Resources – Advance Australia…THERE!

Thinking Routines

Exploring rich media supported with Thinking Routines is a great way to stimulate student ideas, to get the writing juices flowing.

Here’s a collection of what we call “Look to Learn” activities re-blogged from Tumblr.  See what students think!  Remember the power of Project Zero’s Thinking Routines.

These work best when the whole class looks at them together and everyone works their way through the prompts.  There are no right answers, just deeper thinking and sharper insights.  Have fun!

Essay Contest – Advance Australia… THERE!

NAPLAN results highlight what we’re hearing from schools:  writing is one of the toughest skills to improve. Yet people recognise that written  communication is fundamental to students’ success in our digital future. What to do?!

As companies in the education and technology sector, we want to support student and teacher success. We know that when teachers can easily access detailed data on student performance, their impact is even more powerful. When students express their views on meaningful topics, we all benefit.

To spark interest in better writing and to provide participating teachers with free insights into their students’ skills, we are sponsoring a nationwide short essay contest for RIGHT NOW.  Students can participate across three levels: Years 5-6, 7-9 and 10-12. The Prompt is:

“Advance Australia… THERE!

How can technology help create a brighter future for Australia?

What’s in it for:

Students: Winners at each level will receive a Microsoft Surface tablet. Even better for everyone, we will collect and share the core sentiment of what students have to say about the Australia they envision.

Teachers : We will pass all student essays into our machine learning capabilities, producing detailed data on the cohort and your students’ writing. Imagine having insights into student writing skills without reading a single essay! Literatu will show teachers how to save time with instant feedback that can help students refine critical writing skills. We really want to engage with you as we develop our text analysis tool and learn from your input.

Schools: With no obligation, participating schools gain early-adopter access to our writing platform for the 2018 school year.

Australia: Today’s students are tomorrow’s citizens and leaders. We should know how students feel about the future and understand the way they want technology to influence this vision.


Contest Closes 27 November!

Future of Technology Essay Contest

How Will Technology Impact Our Future?

Prompt: Reflect on how technology touches your life and how rapid advancements might change the way we live, learn, work or connect with others in the future.

Teachers can Register here

Here’s an animation of possible topics to get you thinking!





The Future of Technology Summit

Literatu is happy to be a premier sponsor of this year’s Future of Technology Summit.  Held on November 2nd in Washington DC, the Summit boasts top names in technology’s past, present and future like technology legends Ray Kurzweil and Steve Wozniak (and many others) who will inspires us to consider where innovation is going and how it will touch our lives.

We’re awed by all these leaders, but know that those who will have the biggest impact on the future of technology are probably sitting in today’s classrooms! That’s why Literatu is holding a special Essay Competition for young people in the US and Australia.  In 600 words or less, we want them to:

Reflect on how technology touches your life and how rapid advancements might change the way we live, learn, work or connect with others in the future.

Stay tuned to learn more!

NAPLAN and Career Aspirations


A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Year 5 NAPLAN scores could shape career goals: study, by Pallavi Singhal shares research from Professor Jenny Gore of the University of Newcastle.  The main focus of the study seems to be the correlation found between Year 5 NAPLAN results and student aspirations.  Clearly “typecasting” students and their ability and potential is never helpful, but the last line of the article particularly resonated with the work we do at Literatu.  Out purpose is to create clever algorithms that spin analytical insights making it easy for teachers to see the real gaps in student skills – completely moving away from those unhelpful blanket statements about being “good” or “bad” in maths or English.  We need to move far deeper into NAPLAN than the band scores if we hope to help lift the very typical “flat line” we see quite often.

So what was the last line?:

“It’s a messy, complex world we work in, in teaching.”

True enough, but I thought this should not be a lament, but a starting point given our promise to schools:

“Transform data chaos into student success.”

And this is the current reality!