Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented realities, and the “internet of things” (IoT) have opened rich possibilities for learning. They also raise important questions about what it means to be human, how we relate to each other, and how we make ethical use of these powerful technologies to support learning within schools. Advances in neuroscience complement these technology advances.

This interdisciplinary unit is a conversation between the Catholic intellectual tradition, emerging technologies, and contemporary learning sciences to explore how educational leaders ethically and constructively respond to these developments.

This unit develops skills in interdisciplinary knowledge practice. Students utilise philosophical, ethical, and theological tools and processes to refine their philosophy and practice of education. They gain experience in effectively communicating these complex insights to their communities.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Explain recent technological developments and their impacts (both real and claimed) on learning (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA10; APST 1.2, 2.6, 4.5 (Lead); APSP 1, 3, 4, 5)

LO2 - Acquire interdisciplinary skills to enhance their analytic leadership skills (GA5, GA8; APST 6.2, 6.4 (Lead); APSP 1, 3, 4, 5)

LO3 - Develop ethical and theological insights (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4; APST 6.2, 6.3, 6.4 (Lead); APSP 1, 3, 4, 5)

LO4 - Communicate effectively complex and specialist concepts to their community with clarity and precision (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9; APST 7.1, 7.4 (Lead); APSP 1, 3, 4, 5)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7  - work both autonomously and collaboratively

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media

GA10 - Utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.2  Understand how students learn

Lead processes to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching programs using research and workplace knowledge about how students learn.

1.3  Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds

Evaluate and revise school learning and teaching programs, using expert and community knowledge and experience, to meet the needs of students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

2.6  Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Lead and support colleagues within the school to select and use ICT with effective teaching strategies to expand learning opportunities and content knowledge for all students.

4.5  Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically

Review or implement new policies and strategies to ensure the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

6.2  Engage in professional learning and improve practice

Initiate collaborative relationships to expand professional learning opportunities, engage in research, and provide quality opportunities and placements for pre-service teachers.

6.3  Engage in professional learning and improve practice

Initiate collaborative relationships to expand professional learning opportunities, engage in research, and provide quality opportunities and placements for pre-service teachers.

6.4  Apply professional learning and improve student learning

Advocate, participate in and lead strategies to support high-quality professional learning opportunities for colleagues that focus on improved student learning.

7.1  Meet professional ethics and responsibilities

Model exemplary ethical behaviour and exercise informed judgements in all professional dealings with students, colleagues and the community.

7.3  Engage with the parents/carers

Identify, initiate and build on opportunities that engage parents/carers in both the progress of their children’s learning and in the educational priorities of the school.


In addition to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers this unit addresses the following Professional Practices: 

APSP 1 - Leading teaching and learning

Principals create a positive culture of challenge and support, enabling effective teaching that promotes enthusiastic, independent learners, committed to lifelong learning. Principals have a key responsibility for developing a culture of effective teaching, for leading, designing and managing the quality of teaching and learning and for students’ achievement in all aspects of their development. They set high expectations for the whole school through careful collaborative planning, monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of learning. Principals set high standards of behaviour and attendance, encouraging active engagement and a strong student voice.

APSP 3 - Leading improvement, innovation and change

Principals work with others to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies for the development of the school and its facilities. They recognise that a crucial part of the role is to lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan is put into action across the school and that its goals and intentions are realised.

APSP 4 - Leading the management of the school

Principals use a range of data management methods and technologies to ensure that the school’s resources and staff are efficiently organised and managed to provide an effective and safe learning environment as well as value for money. This includes appropriate delegation of tasks to members of the staff and the monitoring of accountabilities. Principals ensure these accountabilities are met. They seek to build a successful school through effective collaboration with school boards, governing bodies, parents and others. They use a range of technologies effectively and efficiently to manage the school.

APSP 5 - Engaging and working with the community

Principals embrace inclusion and help build a culture of high expectations that takes account of the richness and diversity of the wider school community and the education systems and sectors. They develop and maintain positive partnerships with students, families and carers and all those associated with the wider school community. They create an ethos of respect taking account of the spiritual, moral, social and physical health and wellbeing of students. They promote sound lifelong learning from preschool through to adult life. They recognise the multicultural nature of Australia’s people. They foster understanding and reconciliation with Indigenous cultures. They recognise and use the rich and diverse linguistic and cultural resources in the school community. They recognise and support the needs of students, families and carers from communities facing complex challenges.


Topics will include:

  • Visions of life: imago dei, anthropos, Dreaming
  • From Turing to Zuckerberg: intelligent learning reconsidered
  • The rise of digital pedagogies and their impact
  • Machine learning and social media
  • Avatars and the metaverse
  • Progression or regression?
  • Neuroscience
  • What counts as evidence?
  • What are the ethics of the evidence?
  • The dance of science, data, and spirit
  • Enhancing learning
  • Emergence and the ethics of sense-making
  • Ethical inquiry (digital representation, AR/VR, neuro-data): what is valid and reliable?
  • Ethical evaluation: what is good, and for whom?
  • Ethical response: how do I now lead?

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit may be offered in online, on campus or in multimode, for the equivalence of 150 hours of study. This unit adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the challenges of technology and its use within contemporary education. It focuses on the ways in which technology impacts ontological and epistemological assumptions on which educational processes are based. The nature of technological change is examined first through historical analyses of recent changes. Discussion and case study methods are employed to evaluate the ethical, relational, and theological implications of these changes. Students then develop and articulate how their personal philosophy of education responds to the challenges posed. Possible actions flowing from this are also presented.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures are used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and professional standards and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements.

The first assessment requires students to reflect on recent advances in their professional practice. This forms the basis for developmental learning across the rest of the unit. The second assessment provides opportunity to evaluate technology advances from an ethical and theological perspective, thereby grounding the learning in the specific faith context of Catholic education. It also complements the critical perspective on innovation and change that is evident in other units. Assessment 3 then requires students to consider what actions can be taken within their sphere of professional practice in light of their learning.

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are mapped to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes and the related academic and professional standards. In order to pass this unit, students are required to successfully complete all assessment tasks regardless of their mode of enrolment. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Provide an historical overview of changes in two educational technologies and summarise their (claimed) impact on learning.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA10

Assessment Task 2

Discuss the implications for two examples of AI/VR in learning, with consideration of ethics and contemporary theological debate.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10

Assessment Task 3

Critically evaluate how educational leaders can respond to these challenges (priorities to be determined based on student’s context, e.g., faculty/stage, school, system, ecclesial).


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Cooney Harvath, J., & Bott, D. (2020). 10 things schools get wrong (and how we can get them right). John Catt Educational.

Frehlich, C. (2020). Immersive learning: A practical guide to virtual reality's superpowers in education. Rowman & Littlefield.

Horan, D. (2019). Catholicity and emerging personhood: A contemporary theological anthropology. Orbis Books.

Lewin, C., Smith, A., Morris, S., & Craig, E. (2019). Using digital technology to improve learning: Evidence review. Education Endowment Foundation.

Pontificia Academia pro vita. Assembly (2020). Robo-ethics: Humans, machines and health: Proceedings of the XXV General Assembly of Members. Pontifical Academy for Life.

Pope Francis (2013) Evangelii Gaudium. [Encyclical letter].

Pope Francis (2015). Laudato Si’. [Encyclical letter].

Stahl, B. C. (2021). Artificial intelligence for a better future: An ecosystem perspective on the ethics of AI and emerging digital technologies. Springer.

Swinburne, R. (2019). Are we bodies or souls? Oxford University Press.

Harari, Y. N. (2017). Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow. Vintage Press.

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