Digital Technologies Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the plus sign for the answers.

1. Where do we get copies of semester plans?

Semester plans will be published progressively on the VCAA Curriculum Planning Portal and the Resources section for Digital Technologies on the Victorian Curriculum website. 

2. What level of programming skills will teachers need to teach the Creating Digital Solutions strand of the curriculum?

The level of programming skills that teachers require varies depending on the curriculum level being taught. The content descriptions within each band state the functional requirements of programming, such as loops and branching, visual, general or object-oriented programing languages. There are a range of self-paced online programming courses, including Codeacademy, Khan Academy, Code.org, and Grok Learning, which both students and teachers could work through to build their programming skills.

3. Are there standards at each level, or just bands, for Digital Technologies?

In the Victorian Curriculum, all learning areas are presented in two-level bands, expect for English and Maths, which have one level band each. This gives schools flexibility in their planning of programs, ranging from intense periods to regular shorter learning periods. Depending on the skills involved in the achievement standards at each level/band a student may take varying times to progress from one standard to the next.

4. Data is a word that comes up frequently. Does the meaning include images?

Yes, data is raw, unprocessed information that exists in a variety of types, including images (still and moving), text, numbers and sound.

'Data refers to the discrete representation of information using number codes. Data may include characters (e.g. alphabetic letters, numbers and symbols), numbers, images, sounds and/or instructions that when represented by number codes can be manipulated, stored and communicated by digital systems.'

This definition was sourced from the VCAA Digital Technologies Curriculum Glossary.

5. Due to Digital Technologies being a new curriculum learning area, what happens if students begin studying Digital Technologies in Level 6, or above, without having done anything prior?

As the curriculum is a learning continuum and not age and year dependent, students will need to demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in the lower levels in order to progress. While this means that a Level 6 student will begin studying content at a lower level, they will typically acquire the stated knowledge and understanding at a rapid rate due to their maturity and experience.

6. How much time is given to each lesson of the Digital Technologies curriculum at each level?

As schools have flexibility in determining their learning programs, there is no specified time allocation for each lesson. As a guide the writers of the curriculum were provided with the following time allocation guidelines for the purposes of scoping the curriculum.

Time allocation For instance, the curriculum at Levels 9 and 10 was written on the basis that it would take about 80 hours of teaching and learning to achieve the standards. Schools need to decide how the curriculum will be 'packaged'. In some semesters, it may be appropriate to focus on Digital Technologies, whereas in others, a 'lighter' treatment might be more appropriate. Alternatively, learning programs might only be offered in particular semesters or years, in these instances there are concentrated learning periods. If could also be planned to occur evenly over the two year band. (Source: Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Technologies)

7. What is the difference between ICT for creating dimension in AusVELS and Digital Technologies in the context of what products/outputs are produced?

In Digital Technologies students actually write the instructions for the digital systems to produce a solution such as using a visual programming language like Scratch to create a game. In ICT students use a solution someone else has created in order to solve their problem. The team that wrote Google Maps were doing DigiTech. A taxi driver inputting their origin and destination on the GPS and seeing the route output on a screen is using ICT to solve a problem.

8. Can Digital Technologies be taught at secondary level without the need for a specialised subject? If so how?

Schools in Victoria have flexibility in determining how a curriculum is implemented. By Levels 7 and 8, the content descriptions are quite specialised and involve the explicit teaching of technical content. All schools need to be confident that students have the best opportunities to demonstrate the achievement standards at these levels.

Some guiding questions to help make this decision include:

  • Who is best equipped to explicitly address the content in a manner that is pedagogically appropriate?
  • Are there any timetable constraints?
  • Are there opportunities to offer coherent learning programs that incorporate more than one learning area?
9. If reporting against the Victorian Curriculum has to happen in 2017 and a school only runs Digital Technology at Year 7 for example, do teachers report at this stage rather than waiting until they complete Year 8?

Yes, teachers need to report against the learning areas they have taught. It is a school based decision how and when the curriculum is delivered. For example schools may decide to teach Digital Technologies as an intensive one semester unit, teach it evenly over the year or teach it alternate years. Teachers then report against what has been taught.

Teachers will need to make an assessment about the level students are working at against the achievement standards. As the curriculum is a learning continuum and not age and year dependent, students will need to demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in the lower levels in order to progress. A student will begin studying content at a lower level, they will typically acquire the stated knowledge and understanding at a rapid rate due to their maturity and experience.

Also, within any one class it is highly likely that students will be performing at a range of levels, so teachers are encouraged to develop units that cater for levels above and below the targeted level of the unit.

10. Has the new curriculum been presented formally to principals yet?

Roadshows were extensively conducted in Term 3, 2015 for principals, which included content about the new Victorian Curriculum and the Education State. Professional learning opportunities for Digital Technologies will be provided in 2016.

11. Is it possible to start implementing Digital Technologies in 2016?

Yes, definitely. The Department and VCAA recommend to schools that they start implementing the new curriculum in some capacity in 2016. Implementation could start with just a few classes or a specialist teacher.

12. Does the Digital Technologies curriculum require a lot in terms of resources and digital systems for students, such as hardware, robots or software?

The curriculum is as much about problem-solving and using different ways of thinking as it is using digital systems and peripherals such as cameras and robots. Initially, check what is already available in your school and evaluate its appropriateness to the curriculum. It is recommended that schools only buy digital resources when they see the need. The technology demands of the curriculum do not require schools to go out and buy a lot of new equipment. DET provides a range of freely available software for all government schools – visit the eduSTAR Catalogue for details.

It is important to understand that typically 50% of the curriculum can be taught without the use of a digital device (‘unplugged’). There is a range of ways in which students’ computational, design and systems thinking skills can be developed without using digital devices. Where the use of digital systems is required, this will be specified in the relevant content descriptions.

It is important to understand that typically 50% of the curriculum can be taught without the use of a digital device ('unplugged'). There is a range of ways in which students’ computational, design and systems thinking skills can be developed without using digital devices. The content descriptions for each band will provide an indication as to the type of technologies that are appropriate.

13. Could links be included with examples in the achievement standards?

During 2016, VCAA will be publishing samples of student work that are matched to the achievement standards at different levels.

14. What is the best way to plan coherent units of work that integrate at least two learning areas including Digital Technologies? How do you get the balance right between these learning areas?

Integration needs to be coherent and relevant. The emphasis given to the content from each of the learning areas will vary depending on the approach taken. For example teachers may decide to feature a content description in one or two units of work or they may decide to address the content in a less intense way spreading it over a few units. Please find more information on the VCAA website.

15. Are there professional learning opportunities for teachers to learn how to use programing software?

There is a lot happening in this space in regards to professional learning. Many online resources offer self-paced courses that you can work though to learn how to program. For example:

16. Prior to the Digital Technologies Curriculum, ICT was very important. Who will teach ICT in the curriculum?

ICT is still a vital part of the curriculum and teaching and learning programs. ICT has now been written into the content descriptions of some areas such as English, Geography, Mathematics and The Arts. In other curriculum areas, schools have the flexibility to determine how ICT skills will be used in their teaching and learning programs. It is a school decision as to how students will learn about these capabilities. For example, all teachers may take responsibility for teaching students ICT skills that are relevant to their learning area, such as ethical behaviour in online forums in English, or constructing search strings for web research in History. Alternatively, it may be appropriate for targeted teachers to take on the teaching responsibility of all ICT skills and students then apply these skills in all other areas of learning.

17. Do you see Digital Technologies being a compulsory course for Levels 9 and 10 - at the moment it is often an elective?

Yes, Digital Technologies is compulsory for Levels 9 and 10. In the Victorian Curriculum, students must be given the opportunity to demonstrate the standards at Levels 9 and 10. In the Australian Curriculum Levels 9 and 10 are considered optional, however in the Victorian Curriculum: Digital Technologies must be available to all students.

18. The Digital Learning News provides useful information about resources and professional learning, how do I subscribe?

You can subscribe to the Digital Learning newsletter via the Digital Learning News blog: Type your email address into the 'register' box in the middle of the page and click 'sign up'. You will then receive a fortnightly email with a list of events and resources to support teaching and learning.

19. What is STEM?

STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Department regards STEM education as highly important and describes it to include:

  • the learning areas with unique and distinct content and skills; and
  • the intersections and relationships between the STEM fields.
20. What other resources are available?

  • The VCAA Curriculum Planning Resource provides advice, sample plans and a self-assessment tool.
  • On DLTV's Resources: Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies webpage there is a wide range of resources and webinars to help you understand and implement the new Digital Technologies curriculum.
  • The Digital Deck provides ideas and resources to support teachers.
  • The CSER MOOC, designed by the University of Adelaide, offers a free self-paced course, including resources and ideas for implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum.
  • The Department is working with the Federal Department of Training to develop an online web portal of resources and advice to support teachers nationally. More information will be provided shortly.
21. How much of the Design and Technologies curriculum can be taught with Digital Technologies?

In the lower levels, there are more opportunities to develop units of work that draw on aspects of both Digital Technologies and Design and Technologies however, this becomes more complex in the higher levels, with increased specialisation in both curriculum areas.

22. How can I incorporate Minecraft into Digital Technologies - my students are really engaged with this at the moment?

Yes, it can be used provided students develop and apply their computational, design and systems thinking skills to create digital solutions. Minecraft is a tool like other languages, and coding is only one part of the curriculum. MinecraftEDU is a tool for schools. If you choose to use Minecraft your school will need to buy licences to use it and it can be installed on your school's servers.

23. What are the connections between Digital Technologies and other curriculum learning areas? Can partnerships be formed?

The Department and VCAA are working on developing resources that will show the levels of connections between different learning areas. This should help you make informed decisions about partnerships between different learning areas. Please see the information already provided on the VCAA website.

24. Is there a hashtag for Twitter to connect with other teachers implementing the new curriculum?

#DigiTechCurr #DigitalTechEd

25. Can you recommend some approaches to help plan the implementation of Digital Technologies?

  • start with early adopters at your school
  • plan strategically for whole-school implementation to establish a cohesive whole-school direction
  • establish a digital learning curriculum leadership group led by the Curriculum Coordinator
  • explore solutions from Levels 7-10 that are key learning area-based
  • provide professional learning opportunities on the Digital Technologies curriculum for your Professional Learning Teams (PLTs)
  • gain the support of a specialist teacher who will help to lead the initial implementation
  • plan to trickle down the curriculum changes and ensure, over time you hit all levels
  • build capacity for individual teachers/teams and establish a buddy or peer mentoring system, pairing up less confident staff with more confident colleagues
  • assemble a pilot team who will start the new curriculum and share their learnings with the whole staff along the way
  • plan for the start of year for Levels 7 and 8
  • start with the Hour of Code and build on that
  • timetable fortnightly classes from Term 1 for all year levels
  • establish a Digital Technologies team who will begin exploring and then planning how to implement the curriculum in your school and task them with sharing their plans, supporting others, modelling lessons, and demonstrating how the future will look at your school, across all year levels, once the curriculum has been fully implemented
  • provide fortnightly Digitech Brekkies for staff
  • schedule PL time in staff meetings so your staff develop their understanding of the new curriculum and what they need to do to be able to implement it with their students.

 

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