Digital Technologies Curriculum

Why Digital Technologies?

Digital devices are all around us, yet most of us know very little about how they work and how to make them work. Devices including your alarm clock, which wakes you up, the microwave in which you heat up your lunch, or the smart phone which you rely on to connect us to the world, have all been programmed to follow an algorithm, a set of instructions that make them work. In our rapidly changing economy, it is more important than ever to support students to understand and shape the role of digital systems in their current and future world and advancing technological innovation.

  What are digital technologies?

Watch this short video created by the Computer Science Education Research group at the University of Adelaide explaining what digital technologies are and why young people need to start learning the new Digital Technologies Curriculum. This video is part of the CSER Digital Technologies MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) which are free online courses, designed to support Australian teachers with implementing the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies.

The 2015 report by Australian Computer Society, Australia's Digital Pulse, highlights 'the number of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) workers increased to 600,000 in 2014, and now more than half (52%) are in industries outside ICT itself, including professional services, public administration and financial services'. It also describes how rapidly the digital economy is growing in Australia, 'The contribution of digital technologies to the Australian economy was $79 billion in 2013-14 compared with $50 billion in 2011.' For more information, see: Australia's Digital Pulse

According to The New Work Order report by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), 40% of our current jobs are considered at high risk of automation over the next 10-15 years. As our economy continues to transition towards a knowledge economy impacted by automation and growing globalisation, schools need to give students opportunities to develop new skills required by the workforce: problem solving, collaboration, risk taking and effective communication to enable our students to work in new and innovative ways in jobs that will be created in the future.

 6Cs DigiPubs

6Cs DigiPubs

These DigiPubs provide information and resources on the Deep Learning Competency Framework set of six future skills, the '6Cs':

The difference between ICT and the Digital Technologies Curriculum

Digital Technologies focuses on developing students’ thought processes in order to unravel problems, and then design and generate digital solutions to them. Whereas ICT as a general capability in the Australian Curriculum is about equipping students with technical skills and understandings of safe and secure digital practices to access, exchange and manipulate information that supports their learning in a range of endeavours.

Digital Technologies is underpinned by key principles of computer science. The curriculum involves students learning how to create digital solutions through the use of information systems and specific ways of thinking about problem solving. Mainly through the application of the logical reasoning (computational thinking) students learn how to tackle problems by breaking them down into appropriate chunks and then creating a set of steps and decisions (algorithmics) that can be carried out using a digital device to create a solution. Its emphasis is more on developing students’ ability to think computationally, rather than on the use of a range of digital devices to produce information.

ICT as a general capability primarily involves students using digital technologies to effectively communicate, collaborate and create resources. The development and application of these capabilities is almost impossible to achieve without the use of digital technologies. This contrasts starkly with the Digital Technologies curriculum where much learning occurs unplugged, however, students will still apply their ICT capabilities to help their learning in Digital Technologies.

Within the Victorian Curriculum, the name given to the actual technology (hardware and software) that students use and study varies. Within the Digital Technologies curriculum, hardware and software that is studied and used is referred to as digital systems, and there are some peripheral devices such as printers, cameras, smart phones. In other learning areas the term used to describe the hardware and software that students use when developing their learning (ICT as a capability) is typically referred to as digital technologies.

  Solving problems at Google

Watch this short video which explains how computation thinking is used in the real world and to solve problems at Google. See how the staff at Google solve problems such as managing large amounts of data to create Google Earth, a complex problem which was broken down and thought about creatively to find a solution.

Students can experience and develop similar skills in your classroom, building on their computational, design and systems thinking to solve local and relevant problems by creating their own digital solutions to them.

A different approach to teaching the Digital Technologies Curriculum

When planning your Digital Technologies curriculum, why not take an holistic approach? Instead of focusing on individual content descriptions, think about exploring the achievement standards. For example, as demonstrated in the Google video, solving problems with computational thinking brings in learning about digital systems and data and information while creating a digital solution. Project and inquiry-based learning approaches support students to develop their thinking skills and build on their understanding of the whole curriculum. It also allows for group work and high levels of engagement through passion projects.

  Teaching creative computer science

Watch this TEDx talk from Simon Peyton Jones, a British computer scientist who researches the implementation and application of programming languages. Peyton Jones explains why students need to understand how the digital technologies around them work and how to make them work.

Students can experience and develop similar skills in your classroom, building on their computational, design and systems thinking to solve local and relevant problems by creating their own digital solutions to them.

  Resources

The Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum: Challenge and Opportunity by K Falkner, R Vivian, and N Falkner, 2014. This paper examines the state of education both within Australia and internationally with regards to computational thinking and computer science and why it is important to implement it into our schools.

Australia's Digital Pulse: Key Challenges for our nation - digital skills, jobs and education by Australian Computer Society, 2015. A report commissioned by the Australian Computer Society by Deloitte Access Economics. This report examines the changing economic climate in Australia and need for young people to have a better understanding about digital technologies to be successful in the future workplace.

Computational Thinking in K-12: A Review of the State of Field by S Grover and R.D Pea, 2012. This paper addresses the importance for computational thinking being taught in American schools. It explains what computational thinking is and why these skills are essential for young people.

Learning to Connect the Dots: Developing Children's Systems Thinking by Linda Booth Sweeney, 2012. In this article, the author points out that thinking about systems means paying attention to the interrelationships, patterns, and dynamics that surround us – and that children are naturally attuned to this. In cultivating systems literacy, you build upon this natural understanding to help promote this integrated way of thinking for the children in your life.

Computing at School Barefoot: Computational Thinking this website provides definitions on computational thinking, why it is important and information on the concepts and approaches of the computational thinker.

Design Thinking for Educators. The toolkit contains a Design Thinking process overview, methods and instructions that help you put Design Thinking into action, and the Designer's Workbook to support your design challenges.

Problem Solving and Computers in a Learning Environment by Michael Gr. Voskoglou and Sheryl Buckley. This paper aims to shed some light into the relationship between computational and critical thinking.

Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria is supporting schools get digi-tech curriculum ready with an extensive range of resources and professional learning activities for members.

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