- Topic: Strengthening Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko (#DTlHM) in the curriculum
- Where: St Cuthbert’s School
- What: Asking for feedback
- When: 7th August 2017
- Who: Principals and School Leaders
There is a Grassroots movement happening in schools. “Many teachers, schools, kura and Kāhui Ako are already making digital technologies learning part of their teaching programmes. This change to the national curriculum ensures that all learners get these experiences, to prepare them for a world where digital skills are increasingly valuable to the economy and wider society.”
The consultation session that I attended with my principal was run for principals, and school leaders including Kāhui Ako because the new addition to the national curriculum needs senior management understanding.
The goals for the session were to
- Understand the nature of the DT|HM areas
- Understand the various reasons it’s being offered.
- See ways that we and our students might engage with it.
- ………. So we could provide information feedback.
Wendy and I were particularly interested in the session offered to all schools in Auckland because the official announcement in regards to the addition to the New Zealand Curriculum from Education Minister Nikki Kaye took place at Newmarket School on the 28th of June. That and because we both have strengths in Digital Technologies with a history of designing and developing digital outcomes for all our learners. We both believe that our pedagogy with digital technologies pedagogy is strong.
However what I found particularly fascinating was the way that both Tim and Hinerangi emphasised the importance of people and how they communicate. They both said the new curriculum was not about computers but was really about computational thinking. How the digital world interacts with the human world.
They both explained that DT|HM curriculum is about human need.
Some of the session focussed on unpacking computational thinking and looking at the technology dealing with digital technology using binary digits. But again there were no digital devices or digital technology used to push the concept of computational thinking. Instead both facilitators took us through basic activities to highlight the Progress Outcomes on Page 17 of the draft. There was a mention of Kāhui Ako and how as educators we need to develop understanding of transitioning so that we can help our learners as they move between the sectors. They stressed the importance of ensuring that our learners understood the why so that we can shift them from not just being consumers of digital technologies but to being creators.
Background and what we need to be know as educators
Digital technology Hangarau Matihiko is to be formally integrated into the NZ Curriculum. DTlHM is the first change to the NZ Curriculum since 2007. By 2018 the addition will be in schools. The subject will be fully integrated into the NZ Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa by 2020.
What is DT|HM
DT|HM is about teaching students how technology works, and how they can use that knowledge to solve problems. This new curriculum will equip our learners for the increasingly digitalised workplace and society. This will keep New Zealand competitive. Schools will be teaching our young people the computer science principles that all digital technologies are built on. They will be teaching Computational Thinking for Digital Technologies. Computational thinking is when students will develop an understanding of computer science principles that underlie all digital technologies. They’ll learn core programming concepts so that they can become creators of digital technology, not just users.
They will be Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes (learning how to design quality, fit-for-purpose digital solutions) because more and more people need digital technology skills and knowledge to succeed, whether making robots, be a politician, or a farmer. DT|HM is so that our learners become conscious users of the systems.
Again and I repeat the message
DT|HM is not about computers but is about how the digital world interacts with the human world.
What exactly is Digital Technology
Digital Technology is any technology that operates algorithms and uses digits to send messages” a key is to include storage (e.g. a mobile phone can store music, photos and maps as digits, as well as send them). It is any technology that uses digits to store and send information and operates algorithms on them. (e.g. My Fitbit tracking my personal health.)
What impact might DT|HM have on teacher practice?
Many teachers, schools, kura and Kāhui Ako are already making digital technologies learning part of their teaching programmes. This change ensures that all learners get these experiences, to prepare them for a world where digital skills are increasingly valuable to the economy and wider society. Use and understanding of DT|HM can lead to exponential learning.
Positives and negatives of DT|HM
I believe the positives of the draft is the focus on humans and social interaction rather than the technology. I also really like that there is a separate one for Maori that incorporates Maori World View. However the challenge is developing teacher capabilities as fast as possible as there is a huge shortage in this area in schools. Therefore professional development needs to be put in place across the sector to teach teachers how to engage their students with the subject. There is a fabulous site to help teachers begin the process of developing understanding around Computational thinking. This is Computer Science Unplugged (CS Unplugged). Yet still schools must find ways of upskilling teachers.
Whose voice is not currently not being heard?
Currently Maori and Pasifika are under represented in studying Digital Technology and in having success in this field. However they are consumers and creators of digital technology and so it is important that they also have access in schools.
Why is DT|HM important?
Technology is our 3rd largest earner and continues to have exponential growth for New Zealand. By 2020 DT|HM will be part of schools national curriculum.
Computational thinking will be at the same level of importance as reading, writing and mathematics and will be part of NCEA.
Computational thinking is about getting our learners to think big but without using computers. In order to do this they must understand the concept of algorithms. That is how many steps does it take to solve a problem so attention to detail and being persistent are important strategies to learn. Algorithms have been around for a long time and the general principles will not change. What is important is that our children understand what is done to them. DT|HM is also that our children learn to create, think about other people, work with each other and develop spatial knowledge. We can do this by helping them to count, sequence, mix colours and develop spatial awareness. Diversity on the team must reflect the user.
We already know the jobs most likely to be exponentially affected by automation and as the saying goes, if teachers can be replaced by digital technologies then we should be.
So just to sum up.
Teachers need understanding to teach DT|HM especially in Computational Thinking and in designing and developing digital outcomes. DT|HM is not about computers but is about how the digital world interacts with the human world. DT|HM is not coming it is here and what is your school doing to ensure it is embedded in your learning by 2020?
As Kāhui Ako how do we ensure that our schools are ready for DT|HM and this is an area to consider when we update our achievement challenges because of its impact on learning.
Tidbits that were highlights for me.
- Binary Code is still beyond me.
- Computers search 1000,000,000,000 sites in 40 operations.
- Cone cells in the fovea that detect colours only sees RBG.
- Steganography is a a way of sending encoded messages. Here is a fabulous story explaining how.
Sites of interest
Computer Science without a computer http://cs-unplugged.appspot.com/en-gb/
Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko
Currently the Ministry of Education are consulting with leaders, teachers and whānau about the the Draft of this Curriculum. The consultation process will run until 3 September. They are particularly keen to hear from the education and technology sectors as well as parents, students and their whānau.
Feedback is welcomed and all submissions will be considered with a report back later this year, prior to the curriculum’s implementation in 2018.