Digital Technologies in the wider New Zealand Curriculum
How does it fit in?
This resources explores the relationship between the new Digital Technologies content and the wider New Zealand curriculum, and how the Digital Technologies content Computational Thinking for Digital Technologies and Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes can give an authentic context for the Key competencies, Principles, and Values sections of the New Zealand Curriculum. This resource is aimed at Years 1-10.
Digital Technologies in the wider New Zealand Curriculum:
How does it fit in?
Joanne Roberts: Kia ora koutou. Welcome to this presentation about Digital Technologies in the wider New Zealand Curriculum. I’m Joanne Roberts.
Karl Summerfield: Kia ora, I’m Karl Summerfield.
Joanne: In this presentation we are going to zoom out and have a look at the Digital Technologies area in relation to the New Zealand Curriculum. This will support both your own understanding of how it fits, in the wider curriculum area, and also help you to persuade those colleagues of yours who maybe need a little bit support as to how it all fits in, why they need to teach it, and how it does all the learning competencies that we want our students to have.
Karl: This is the diagram of the Technology learning area. The new Digital Technology area, there are the two new technological areas on the right hand side, Computational Thinking for Digital Technologies and Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes. Above that, we have the strands of technology which is the Practice, the Knowledge and the Nature of Technology. Sitting above those are the Vision, Principles, Values, and Key Competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. It’s those that we are going to explore today.
The first thing we are going to look at is the Principles of the New Zealand Curriculum. There are eight of these. Not very many teachers can rattle them off if they are asked. While we could make a really good argument for each one of these and why Digital Technologies supports the Principles of the New Zealand Curriculum, we are going to focus in on just three.
We are going to look at, firstly, the idea that community engagement is important. When you are looking at developing outcomes in digital technologies it is good for children to be working in authentic contexts. Authentic contexts are contexts that are relevant and are meaningful to them. The local community is a really important bank of problems to solve. That might mean working in with local community groups. It might mean working in with local branches of wider groups like the Department of Conservation for instance, or your local library. It could also be that you are solving a problem that’s to do with your natural environment or the area in which you live. It might be that you want to bring some parents into the classroom. Maybe you’ve got somebody’s mum’s a graphic designer or a programmer. They might be willing to come in and support your students’ learning in the Digital Technologies learning area. Community engagement is a really important part of Digital Technologies.
Another principle of the New Zealand Curriculum is the idea of coherence, where we are offering a broad curriculum and there are links between the different learning areas. If you look at technology as a process and a tool rather than a separate learning area, and you look at other learning areas as a context for practising technology, you start to get some really interesting ideas. Maybe you’ve got your students working on an automated watering system so the plants don’t die over the holidays. You are going to need to know some digital technologies, some programming perhaps, maybe how to use a Micro:bit or something like that. You are probably also going to need to understand the science of how do you measure moisture in soil. How much water should I add so the plants are nourished but their roots don’t rot? Likewise, if you are working on a digital outcome maybe trying to discourage cyberbullying in the school. That draws quite heavily on the Health and PE learning areas. It also draws on the Social Science areas. You can use Technology as a way to demonstrate your knowledge of other learning areas. Again, creating those links between the different learning areas.
The last principle I wanted to talk about was the idea of Future Focus. This Digital Technology content covers some stuff that is very topical. We are living in an increasingly connected digital world. This stuff is not going away. We need to prepare our students to live in that world. That means understanding how it works, being able to lift the bonnet and look at the inner workings of technology and maybe even being able to create some of that themselves.
Moving onto the Values of the New Zealand Curriculum. There is a list of them. Not every teacher can rattle them off. We are going to look at the top two even though, again, I could make a really good case for each of those values. The first value we are going to talk about is the idea of Excellence. Technologies is a discipline that relies on excellence. If you’re making a solution that is fit for purpose it has to be of a high standard. It’s pretty hard to come up with a substandard solution that still fits the purpose. You are always striving through the design process and also through the process of iteration, going back over your design, doing some testing, getting feedback, always striving to make it better. Excellence is kind of baked into the idea of technology and digital technologies.
The other aspect is the idea of ‘Innovation, inquiry, and curiosity’. Technology is an inquiry process. You go through the process, looping round, making sure that you are covering your bases, that you’re engaging your end-users, that you’re getting information that’s going to make it better, but also there’s a lot of curiosity in terms of ‘I wonder if I can get it to do that?’, ‘I wonder what would happen if I did this?’. Digital Technologies definitely has an aspect of being curious, being interested in solving puzzles, and being interested in finding good solutions to problems.
The Key Competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum are thinking, relating to others, using language, symbols, and text, managing self, and participating and contributing. I think most teachers are reasonably familiar with these now. I’m going to pick these three to quickly talk about. When you are learning in digital technologies, particularly when it comes to things like computational thinking, there is a large amount of thinking involved. There’s a lot of problem solving. When I think of some of the design work that I’ve done in the past, you often end up solving a series of small puzzles. Where am I going to place this on a page? Or How am I going to tell the computer that I need it to do this? Thinking and problem solving are very much hand in hand the way digital technology works.
Relating to others comes from the idea that we need to be thinking about our end-users all the time. We need to be thinking about who is going to be using the solutions that we produce. We are not making things for ourselves necessarily so that means understanding and bringing in different world views. Also, often digital technology isn’t done in a vacuum. It’s not necessarily a solitary occupation. Often when you are writing software, that’s done in teams. Often when you are producing films or audio, you are working in teams, so you need to be quite good at allocating roles and working with each other to get the problem solved.
Language, symbols and text comes in again very strongly with computational thinking where, almost literally, you are cracking the code. You’ve got a very set language that you are allowed to use and you have to figure out how to use pieces of that language to get the computer to do what you would like it to do. It does involve understanding language and a very literal sort of language.
Joanne: So hopefully you can now see how Digital Technologies really does fit really well into the New Zealand Curriculum, not just at a surface level, but also supports those really deep, intricate things within the curriculum, such as the Key Competencies and the Values. Hopefully this has given you motivation to really get into Digital Technologies and to support your colleagues to do that as well and to really encourage our students to be creators of digital technologies, what we would like them all to be. Ka kite.
Karl: See you later.
How to use this resource
Watch the video first then refer back to the slide deck for reference.
Join Ngā Kiriahi to discuss ways in which the Digital Technologies curriculum content supports the Principles, Values, and Key Competencies sections of the New Zealand Curriculum.