School children

TTS Response to Technology Curriculum Changes

Digital Technologies | Hangarau Matihiko

About Telco Technology Services (TTS):

TTS is an education company. Our vision is a smarter New Zealand. We partner with schools to improve student outcomes through the use of digital technologies by making the technology invisible so that teachers and students can focus on teaching and learning. TTS has strong existing relationships with more than 1200 schools, kura and Kāhui Ako.

TTS believes that to ready current learners with the skills and knowledge necessary for their future, the curriculum needs to evolve and develop as technology and society changes. We believe schools are uniquely positioned to encourage 21st Century thinking.

Summary of Response:

Overall, Telco Technology Services support both the direction and content of the Digital Technologies – Hangarau Matihiko changes to the Technology learning area of the New Zealand Curriculum. TTS believes there is scope to further develop both the exemplars and content of this curriculum area. TTS believes that technology providers, academics and educators should work together to further develop these ideas and that ‘progressions’ of digital fluency could be developed.

TTS takes heart that an integral part of this curriculum update includes professional learning for teachers. This, in our minds, will ensure teachers are equipped to deliver the curriculum to its full potential. It is essential that this professional learning is delivered by technology experts with relevant and qualified education experience. This would include developing teaching resources and materials that, alongside professional learning, will improve teacher competence in this area. Schools should have the opportunity to leverage community technology experts and use these skills to teach technology in meaningful contexts.

Consistency:

The updates to the curriculum are in line with other curriculum areas. TTS believes that the inclusion of computational thinking will enhance the Mathematics and Statistics Curriculum. Making links explicit between Mathematics and Technology will support teachers integrating the curriculum areas.

TTS believes the additional complexity of the learning steps being added to year levels and curriculum levels will cause confusion and that this may hinder teachers’ assessment in this area. TTS suggests a ‘progressions’ document to map out each area (similar to reading/writing progressions) which would define necessary knowledge and next steps for learning for students working at each stage.

Connections:

As schools prepare students for a workforce that will consist of jobs that are currently unimaginable, it is imperative that teaching and learning encourages students to make connections and to be thinking laterally. We believe the Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes area of learning could support making these connections, however we believe more work is needed to explore this potential further.

Emphasis should be on the decision-making process and tool flexibility, not just the aesthetic design and tool mastery. Students should be transferring the skills and knowledge explicitly developed in the technology curriculum in to all other curriculum areas. Students will be able to independently select a tool or resource to meet the need of their future presentation requirements. There are obvious connections with viewing and presenting (from the English Curriculum) which should also be made explicit to teachers.

Adaptability:

TTS believes that the new areas of the Technology Curriculum are broad enough so as that they could be adapted and incorporated into teachers’ teaching and learning programmes. It needs to be specifically defined that teachers are expected to integrate this learning into programmes (i.e. not seen as stand-alone lessons of, for example, coding). There is concern in the education sector that this is an “extra” in the curriculum when TTS believes that it is an enhancement to the curriculum and indeed should be seen as an advantage for our learners.

Some models of technology learning integrated into other curriculum areas should be developed (for example learning about Gallipoli through Minecraft, geometry using Scratch, writing using digital stories) would show teachers the potential for technology integration. It would also avoid the “technology for technology’s sake” mentality that exists in some schools.

Clarity:

Computational Thinking

This has clearly been very well thought out and developed. The exemplars make it clear what is to be learned. TTS has reservations that the exemplars provided may simplify this area too much and that there should be additional work done on describing the thinking processes necessary for students at each level.

“Computational thinking enables a student to express problems, and formulate solutions in a way that means a computer (an information processing agent) can be used to solve them.”

We believe that computational thinking is more than problem solving. We believe that computational thinking involves “digital thinking”, thinking in a way that demonstrates an understanding of the causal effects of inputs and outputs. We also believe computational thinking could be added to key competencies under “Thinking”.

Making use of the new curriculum focus

Schools should be encouraged by this change to the curriculum. It is broad enough that schools should feel comfortable continuing to do what they currently do, but also becoming aware of gaps in their expertise. Teachers should see this as an opportunity to challenge and extend their programmes, finding ways to contextually incorporate digital technologies into their planning.

Teachers should not see this as an extra, moreover they should see it as an enhancement. We have no doubt that much of what is described in the curriculum update is already happening in many effective classrooms across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Prepared by:

Karen Rolleston Chief Executive Officer

Steve Voisey  Lead Professional Learning Advisor

Michael Richards Pedagogy Consultant (Research and Development)

Prepared for: Ministry of Education