Change · COP (Community of Practice) · Digital fluency · Leadership · Māori · New Zealand · NZACDITT · Technology

Response to the Newsroom

A recent Newsroom article positing a very negative response to proposed Digital Technologies | Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum has managed to gain a lot of traction on Twitter. I was actually really disappointed by the article, and it is unfortunate that the platform doesn’t allow comments so we can’t discuss the points directly.

I believe the article itself has missed the point in several instances.

I don’t doubt that the author wants the same for her students as any of us, but she made several poorly attributed comments and assumptions, not least that teachers have not being involved in the process of drafting the documentation: NZACDITT executives have been on the reference panels from the inception (including the Curious Minds sector consultation), Association members have been feeding back on language and outcomes throughout the draft, secondary digital technology teachers, primary specialists, and national academics have been involved in developing exemplars with actual NZ school students, using internationally recognised best-practice, and Professor Tim Bell from UC will be fronting the national consultation that begins this week.

The “big ideas” and key conceptual ideas of digital technologies were developed and tested with a group of students, teachers, and the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum Reference Group during 2016. Neither is it true that the process has been dictated to or driven by industry, although industry representation was sort and was present within the reference group, so were teachers, MoE, academia, and the teacher unions.

In 2017 the design and development process has been informed by, and run alongside, a much more extensive trial and consultation period with schools, students, teachers and with industry stakeholders. The group will map the significant learning “signposts”, which describe a student’s increasing understanding and use of digital technologies knowledge and skills; develop and test rich tasks for and with students; and engage and test their ideas with students, teachers and industry stakeholders throughout the design process. Additionally a Māori-medium hangarau matihiko working group is running parallel to the work of the English medium group.

Digital Technologies will be part of The New Zealand Curriculum, beginning at Year 1 from 2018, to be fully embedded by 2020. The intention of the document is that digital Technologies will not be a stand alone LA, and makes it plain that DT | HA is firmly embedded within the Technology Learning Area with all the richness that entails.

In The New Zealand Curriculum, digital technologies will be recognised as a part of the Technology learning area. In Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, it will be recognised as a whenu (strand) within the Hangarau Wāhanga Ako. Learning in digital technologies will link to learning across all Learning Areas and Wāhanga Ako. (Edgazette 2016)

Another area of confusion in the article seems to be in the differences between “teaching Digital Technology” and “teaching with digital technologies” (or as MoE puts it Digital technologies for teaching and learning). With all best intentions one of the biggest barriers we face to becoming a digital economy is if our learners remain as consumers of others producers products (rather than developing the insight to be active and willing producers of their own learning product). Quoting Curious Minds:

Technology is intervention by design: the use of practical and intellectual resources to develop products and systems (technological outcomes) that expand human possibilities by addressing needs and realising opportunities. Adaptation and innovation are at the heart of technological practice. Quality outcomes result from thinking and practices that are informed, critical and creative.

Technology makes enterprising use of its own particular knowledge and skills, together with those of other disciplines. Graphics and other forms of visual representation offer important tools for exploration and communication.

The proposed Digital Technology strands (within the 5 Technology Strands) – Computational Thinking (CT) & Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes (DDDO) have elements of Technological PracticeTechnological Knowledge and the Nature of Technology embedded into the Progress Outcomes.

As an aside, the NZACDITT supported by MoE, Google and University of Canterbury, held a weeklong symposium for 40 regional representatives of Primary, Intermediate and Secondary teachers in week 1 of the break, under the headings of CS4PD and CS4Teachers, focussing on just how we can teach DT across the curriculum.

Nothing in this documents excludes or precludes the use of Digital Technologies from other Learning Areas and in fact as discussed at CS4PD and anticipated (especially in Primary provision) the specific skills should wherever possible be disseminated interdisciplinary and cross-curricular. I am aware of Science teachers for instance who use robotics in their delivery, English teachers who look at algorithms, or Social Science teachers who readily generate Infographics, and I can imagine a Maths class supported in their numeracy by an csunplugged activity. All of these are supported by and in turn support the proposed DT Progress Outcomes, and none of this precludes the existence of a strong and growing DT | HA subject within Secondary provision.

The document is still – as it says on the cover – a draft, and there are probably some errors, omissions, or works-in-progress. Currently there are snapshots of exemplars, which will in turn be presented along with a body of knowledge and teaching and learning guides to accompany the curriculum, but that is partly what the consultation is for. The seeming bias towards Scratch is because the two exemplars the MoE decided to publish (from many that are currently under development to included in an expanded Body of Knowledge) had Scratch blocks in them. Exemplars for the DDDO section (and the full CT exemplars) have yet to be released and the DDDO exemplars are more closely tied to the development of outcomes through the Technology design process.

Full implementation is not required until 2020, although as Digital Technology teachers many schools will begin implementing the newly aligned NCEA standards as soon as we are able. We have moved on from 2007, making the best of problems in the previous standards implementation for 10 years now. Reading the new standards (and trialing beginning this term) I am very pleased with the breadth of potential experiences now possible for my senior classes.

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