New Zealand revamping digital technology education in school curriculum
The aim of the inclusion of new Digital Technologies content in English as well as Māori language mediums, is for students to develop broad technological knowledge, practices and dispositions that will equip them to participate in society as informed citizens and provide a platform for technology-related careers, as digital technology and skills are becoming critical parts of most fields, from farmers using drones to find out where their crops need watering to fire-fighters using heat-sensing equipment to find out where the fire is hottest. This change signals the need for greater focus on students building their skills, so they can be innovative creators of digital solutions, moving beyond solely being users and consumers of digital technologies.
This curriculum will be available for all students from year 1 to year 13 (roughly 5 to 18 years). Students have the opportunity to specialise from year 11 to year 13. The Ministry is starting with NCEA Level 1 achievement standards, which will be available for use from 2018. Levels 2 and 3 will be made available from 2019.
By the end of Year 10, all young people should be digitally capable - able to use and create digital technologies to solve problems and take advantage of whatever pathway they choose to follow. For learners who study Digital Technologies through to Year 13, it is expected that they will be on the pathway to specialising - meaning that they understand the targeted digital skills needed in the digital technologies industry, and how they can lead our next generation of innovators and trailblazers in the digital world.
The reorganised Technology learning area still has the three strands: technological practice, technological knowledge, and nature of technology. Below this are five technological areas: 1) Designing and developing materials outcomes; 2) Designing and developing processed outcomes; 3) Design and visual communication; 4) Computational thinking for digital technologies; and 5) Designing and developing digital outcomes.
The three strands provide the organising structure for the five technological areas:
- achievement objectives – Designing and developing materials outcomes, Designing and developing processed outcomes, Design and visual communication
- progress outcomes – Computational thinking for digital technologies, Designing and developing digital outcomes.
The new content covers two key areas, computational thinking and designing and developing digital outcomes. It has been designed to be flexible, so it can respond to new developments and technologies as they emerge.
The release of the content follows a consultation period with teachers, schools and parents. The "big ideas" and key conceptual ideas of digital technologies were developed and tested with a group of students, teachers, and the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum Reference Group during 2016.
In 2017 the design and development process was informed by, and run alongside, a much more extensive trial and consultation period with schools, students, teachers and with industry stakeholders. The group mapped the significant learning "signposts", which describe a student’s increasing understanding and use of digital technologies knowledge and skills; develop and test rich tasks for and with students; and engage and test their ideas with students, teachers and industry stakeholders throughout the design process. A Māori-medium hangarau matihiko working group is running parallel to the work of the English medium group.
Over the next two-year period, the Government will continue to work with the sector to ensure they receive the support they need to understand and implement the content. This includes supporting schools to help them build the capability of their staff. Feedback will be sought during implementation to enable the Government to make any adjustments required.
Digital Technologies will be part of The New Zealand Curriculum, beginning at Year 1 from 2018. Professional learning development (PLD) supports will be available from term one, 2018.
Schools will be expected to fully integrate the revised learning area into their curriculum by the start of the 2020 school year.
Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, Hipkins said, ““The digital curriculum content positions us as global leaders in education, meeting the needs of a digital and fast-paced world and making sure our students will be job-ready when they graduate. Young people will learn how digital technologies work and will develop critical thinking skills and learn key competencies such as collaboration, communication, problem solving, and ethical and safety awareness.”
“The Hangarau Matihiko curriculum content connects traditional Māori practices and knowledge with digital confidence. The Hangarau concepts reinforce the importance of understanding the past to inform future practice for people and the environment,” he added.