ACT government is spending millions on replacing three-year-old Chromebooks in public schools as experts warn teachers need more support to integrate technology effectively in the classroom.
This year the territory spent $7.5 million to hand out 3000 Chromebooks for year 7 students and 10,000 replacement Chromebooks for students who received a device three years ago.
Australian Catholic University's head of school education for NSW and ACT Associate Professor Miriam Tanti said while handing out hardware would address some inequities, teachers needed more training and support to get the most out of technology.
"I get the need to roll out Chromebooks, etc. But for me, unfortunately it misses the mark a little bit.
"What we need to be able to do is to have strategic priority and focus directed towards teachers for professional development and learning so that when these technology devices come into the classroom they can use them authentically and meaningfully and purposefully to really impact learning."
Associate Professor Tanti said time constraints and the rigidity of the curriculum were barriers for teachers to be able to think creatively about how to use technology so that devices were more than just a digital textbook and workbook.
She said some teachers also had a fear that technology could become a distraction from learning.
Assistant Professor of learning sciences at the University of Canberra Shyam Barr said the conversation needed to be shifted away from managing distractions towards teaching students to engage with technology in a purposeful way.
"Our role as school educators is to prepare our young people for the future, and technology forms part of that future and so having technology in schools is a really critical part of preparing for that future," he said.
He said students were using cameras, virtual reality, mobile phones and 3D printers as part of their learning.
ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said teachers needed to do 20 hours of professional learning to maintain their registration, which included digital education.
She said teachers had to upskill very quickly last year as the school system pivoted to online learning.
"So we have a whole skilled workforce that we ... may not have had, had it not been for last year. So whilst it was challenging it was definitely an opportunity to learn digital education and the kind of opportunities provided for teachers, but also young people as well."
Ms Berry said there would not be a ban on mobile phones in schools.
"I know that they are a challenge. I'm a parent myself so I completely understand that schools work their way through that and I think that they're the best place to manage phones in schools rather than putting a blanket policy out that would ban them."
Director of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Ross Fox said each Catholic school set their own device requirements which were paid for by parents through school fees or separate levies.
Some Catholic schools have decided that mobile phones must stay in lockers during school hours to eliminate distractions.
"We're striving for holistic education so we're not closing off technology," Mr Fox said.
"We are in an internet-enabled world, that's part of family life now."