Digital Technologies in the NZ Curriculum – Top 10 Tips

Are you a teacher of students in years 1 to 10? Then you will no doubt be well aware by now of the need to deliver the two new Digital Technologies areas of the curriculum to your students by 2020. These are Computational Thinking for Digital Technologies and Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes.

You may be well prepared and already delivering the necessary skills and competencies across the curriculum, or have no idea where to start, or be at any point in-between. Regardless of your current situation, here are ten tips that you may find helpful.

1. You only need to do what is required for your age group

Remember that the progress outcomes outlined in the curriculum relate to curriculum levels, and that these overlap somewhat in terms of student ages. You can see, for example, that Progress Outcome 1 is pretty much all that is required for students up to Year 5.

2. Not everything has to meet the progress outcome in full

Between the draft and final version of the new technology areas, the prefix “In authentic contexts and taking account of end-users” was added to all of the progress outcomes as a kind of arbitrary catch-all. Of course that is what we are aiming for but sometimes you just have to engage kids in the basics. You can find a fun way to teach binary numbers, for example, and it doesn’t have to be in an authentic context or take account of end users.

3. You are probably already doing things that meet some of the progress outcomes

Many of the progress outcomes relate to use of digital tools that you may well already be using with your students. How about this part of progress outcome 1 from Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes: “They know how to use some applications, they can identify the inputs and outputs of a system, and they understand that digital devices store content, which can be retrieved later.” Are your students using a word processor like Google Docs? Job done. Just have a chat with them about the terminology.

4. Give your students time to get familiar with a key digital tool

A programming tool like Scratch can be used for a whole raft of creative things. Introduce your students to the basics early, then give them opportunities to create learning outcomes using Scratch at different times. They will build and share their own knowledge about the Computational Thinking outcomes while using it for cross-curricular learning. Working on a play? Get the students to create a digital version with characters saying their lines. Music class? Create some digital compositions.

5. Remember the digital in other activities

Whatever you are doing with your students, prompt them to use digital tools whenever suitable. History class? They can create a digital timeline. Exploring a new topic? Get them to create a digital mind or concept map. Outdoor activity? Get students to film and edit a video or create a mobile app using GPS. The possibilities are endless.

6. Think about getting some hardware

A lot of the progress outcomes can be met by students working with mechatronics – microprocessors and/or robots. Consider getting some robots for your class, or Makey Makeys, or micro:bits. Having the hardware available in class will mean students can become familiar with them and go beyond the basics to reach some of those higher end progress outcomes. (Check out our National Technologist’s tips on how to do this cost-effectively.)

7. You don’t have to know everything!

Don’t put off using digital technologies with your students just because you don’t feel 100% confident about how to use them. Explain to the students that you are going to give them the opportunity to learn together, teach each other, and perhaps teach you too.

8. Connect on social media

Teachers all over New Zealand are working together to develop their skills. Make some connections to your colleagues and share your knowledge, skills and ideas. If the closure of Google Plus has left you wondering about that tool to use, take a look at MeWe. There are of course some Facebook groups such as Digital Technologies Hub NZ

9. Keep calm and have fun

You’re in the same boat as everyone else and we are all learning together.

10. Ask for help

There are many opportunities for you to develop your skills. The MoE have put in a number of initiatives to provide various types of support. There is also the Digital Passport, free to NZ teachers, and you could consider enrolling on The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborative Learning if you want to fully immerse yourself in this subject.

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