The Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum has been endorsed. What is it and what does it mean for schools, teachers and students? ACARA defines the Digital Technologies Curriculum as an opportunity for students to create solutions, develop a range of thinking skills (including systems thinking, computational thinking and design thinking) and learn how to manage projects and create preferred futures. A good place to start getting a grasp on the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum is the Australian Curriculum website http://www.
Systems thinking is a holistic approach to the identification and solving of problems where the focal points are treated as components of a system, and their interactions and interrelationships are analysed individually to see how they influence the functioning of the entire system. Participating in and shaping the future of information and digital systems is an integral part of learning in Digital Technologies. Understanding the complexity of systems and the interdependence of components is necessary to create timely solutions to technical, economic and social problems.
Design thinking involves the use of strategies for understanding design needs and opportunities, visualising and generating creative and innovative ideas, planning, and analysing and evaluating those ideas that best meet the criteria for success. When developing solutions in Digital Technologies, students explore, analyse and develop ideas based on data, inputs and human interactions. When students design a solution to a problem they consider how users will be presented with data, the degree of interaction with that data and the various types of computational processing.
Computational thinking is a problem-solving method that is applied to create solutions that can be implemented using digital technologies. It involves integrating strategies, such as organising data logically, breaking down problems into parts, interpreting patterns and models and designing and implementing algorithms.
How do we unpack these thinking skills in the classroom? What pedagogical approaches best lend themselves to these concepts and learning areas? STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) projects may be a starting point. By exploring learning activities that draw on multiple disciplines, key curriculum content can be covered in dynamic projects with a real world focus. By integrating the Digital Technologies curriculum into the varied key learning areas, students can learn how to transfer the digital technologies thinking skills into other aspects of their learning and life.
Approaching the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum from a Project Based Learning perspective is an option worth exploring. Rather than viewing the new curriculum as an independent silo of learning or confined to computer science and ICT, it could be utilised as a bridge between the key learning areas. Makerspaces and Maker Mindsets are another potential avenue for engaging with the new curriculum. I will be speaking on these topics and workshopping ideas at the Digital Technologies Curriculum Conference in March.
The next conference in the Digital Technologies Curriculum series takes place in Melbourne in March 2017. Attend for practical strategies to implement and unpack the curriculum, as well as ideas, resources and activities to try in the classroom.