5 Myths Busted about the new Digital Technologies Curriculum
Kate Friedwald | Jan 2020
Since Term 1, 2020, it has been expected that the digital technologies curriculum be taught by all teachers. As a PLD facilitator of most things digital (don’t ask me to fix your photocopier or why you can’t print) I have been in a number of schools supporting teachers through this implementation.
The below myths come up time and time again which prompted me to write this post………
- It’s a whole new curriculum area.
- We don’t have time to teach anything new.
- I teach juniors so it doesn’t apply to me.
- I can’t code, never mind teach others to.
- It’s just even more time on devices.
Let the myth busting begin.
1. It's a whole new curriculum area.
No it is not a whole new curriculum area. It is two new areas added to the existing technology curriculum area. Think of it like the arts curriculum which is made up of visual, music, dance and drama. It is like adding another two arts mediums.
The existing technology curriculum
- Designing and developing material outcomes,
- Designing and developing processed outcomes,
- Design and Visual Communication
Added to it now are
- Computational thinking for digital technologies
- Designing and developing digital outcomes.
2. We don't have time to teach something new.
The idea isn’t to find more time or drop something it is about integrating the new with the old. For example computational thinking is a lot about sequencing. You already teach that right? Procedural writing, position and orientation? Simply begin to use digital vocabulary in there (sequence = order, command = instruction, algorithm = set of commands in sequence, bug=problem, debug=find and fix problem). Write an algorithm for making a jam sandwich. Create a fitness plan using commands and loops (repeating a command). Yes it’s not all that simple but a great place to start.
3. I teach juniors so it doesn’t apply to me.
The curriculum is designed for students from Year 1-Year 13. Progress Outcomes (replaced what you know as Achievement Objectives – don’t ask) are as below which show the learning to meet each progress outcome will come from all the previous years/curriculum levels. The amount and complexity will differ from younger to older students (although it won’t be age based) but the learning of basic concepts is still important. The simple of it is that students from Years 1-10 needs to be learning this. Year 11-13 would become optional.
4. I can’t code, never mind teach others to.
You don’t need to. Gone are the days of the teacher needing to be the fountain of all knowledge. There are awesome resources available to support both you and your students. It is about changing the mindset. It is ok for kids to know more, learn from each other and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Your job is to support them with the resources, time, encouragement and belief that all great teachers do. Let them explore and then share their learning. As we would say in class, don’t be scared, give it a go.
5. It's just even more time on devices.
Yes and no. There is a huge amount of what is known as ‘unplugged learning’, as in no devices involved. This learning is fantastic to cement the concepts of computational thinking. As learning progresses, yes there are also great digital resources that allow students to take their learning further. If you are worried about the amount of screen time I urge you to evaluate what devices are being used for. I often say to teachers “If it can be done without a device – it should be”. We are teaching today and tomorrow’s students for their future, not ours. Digital technologies are already NZs third largest export so the importance of introducing and engaging students in this area is vital for their future. We are looking past using devices (remember those 4th form word processing classes) and into understanding and building/creating digital outcomes like devices and apps etc.
So in parting, don’t be scared, give it a go. Learn what you can, try a lesson out with your students, dip your toes in the water, I am confident you will be surprised by yourself.