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New Zealand revamping digital technology education in school curriculum

New Zealand revamping digital technology education in school curriculum

The New Zealand Government has revised
the Technology learning area to strengthen the positioning of Digital
Technologies in The New Zealand 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.

Image credit: Ministry of Education, New Zealand

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
 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
, 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

“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.

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