Thursday, 31 July 2014

Taking something and changing it

I have been interested in what has been said lately in the media about the Digital Technologies subject area.

I decided to take the 170 comments and make it into something that was more readable.

A wordle of the stuff comments

Monday, 28 July 2014

#NZCTech day 12 - Technology statement

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.

Technology is never static. It is influenced by and in turn impacts on the cultural, ethical, environmental, political, and economic conditions of the day
p32, NZC 2007

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Introducing coding Planning to students

This has been copied from another's blog.

I'm coining a new programming discipline, calld Jenga Programming, or Jenga Driven Design (JDD). It's something I see happening all the time, and it's driving me crazy now and then.

For those of you who don't know what Jenga is:
Jenga is a game of physical and mental skill, marketed by Hasbro, in which players remove blocks from a tower and put them on top. The word jenga is derived from kujenga, the Swahili verb "to build"; jenga! is the imperative form. (
Basically what you do is you start with a solid tower, and keep removing parts and adding them to the top of the tower until it falls over. It's a simple game, and quite fun to play. In programming however, this is arguably one of the best ways to create a maintenance nightmare.

At a glance, JDD looks promising. You start with a big solid block of code, and simply start removing the bits that are not needed to keep it standing. After that, you're adding new things to the top. Sounds like iterative development and refactoring to me. If it was that simple, I wouldn't have come up with this theory.

So what do I mean with JDD? We'll dive a bit deeper into Jenga for that.

When you play Jenga, you remove blocks by gut feeling. When you're removing a block you're free to bump around the other blocks, or leave a block half removed if you think it will topple the tower. After you removed the block, usually you simply put it on the top in such a way that the tower won't fall over. The only thing that matters when putting the block on the top is making sure the rest of the tower doesn't come crashing down.

Superimposing this view of the game on "the game of software development" will make it painfully clear where this goes wrong:

When you're doing proper refactoring you (ideally) make sure that the code is covered by well-written tests, and that the functionality of the code is known. This is not the case when doing JDD: you remove bits which you think do nothing useful.

When you add new functionality to your application you make sure you know why you're adding the specific functionality, and that it written well. When playing the JDD game, you add functionality whenever someone asks for it (adding a multitude of meaningless options/settings, anyone?). You don't really care about the rest of the system, as long as it works.

Of course, JDD doesn't work so well in compiled languages like Java, C or C#. When you remove something that's still used, your compiler will cry out in pain, and you won't be able to deploy the application into the wild. That's why JDD is a typical (anti)pattern seen in PHP (and other script languages) development. Now, I'm not saying PHP is bad (well, not in this blog at least), but it does tend to let programmers do things like this. I blame it on the programmer though.

To summarize, JDD is programming without a solid plan, adding and removing things without a lot of thought. This is not to be confused with agile/extreme programming methods, where there IS a lot of thought going on. So next time you encounter an application which falls over after a simple change, there's only one thing to say:


Copied from

Some other ideas for problem solving, I like the how many ways can you say "no", without saying "no".

Thursday, 24 July 2014

#NZCTech Day 10 Looking at Tech systems from a senior level

Excerpt from the systems explanatory paper

Operational parameters of systems refer to the boundaries and/or conditions within which the system has been designed to function. These concepts are important to understand when establishing the fitness for purpose of technological systems. Ethics play a significant part in the decisions around reliability and redundancy, as improvements in both these areas within a system inevitably comes with associated costs.

Technological systems in the junior technology programme
If you are attempting 91050, 91360, and/or 91614 
it is critically important to cover the Technological systems component at curriculum levels 3, 4, 5

Technological systems in the junior technology programme
Comments from the NCEA assessment reports:
  • had a limited understanding of what a system is
  • described non-technological systems such as managerial or organisational systems.
  • misunderstood what a subsystem is referring to components as subsystems e.g. LEDs

Technological systems
What is a technological system in terms of input / transformation / output and how technological systems differ from other systems.

Technological systems at curriculum level one
Students can:
  • identify the components of a technological system and how they are connected
  • identify the input/s and output/s of particular technological systems
  • Identify that a system transforms an input to an output.

Technological systems at curriculum level three

Students can:
  • describe what ‘black box’ refers to within a technological system and the role of particular black boxes within technological systems
  • identify possible advantages and disadvantages of having black boxed transformations within particular technological systems
  • describe how the components, and how they are connected, allow particular systems to be technical feasible and socially acceptable
  • describe particular technological systems using specialised language and symbol conventions.

Contexts to study systems

Technological systems
Don’t have to be ‘hi-tech’ systems

Programme planning
So…how is understanding of the Technological Systems component developed in your junior technology programme?

How is understanding of the Technological Systems component developed throughout your senior courses?

• Powerhouse(Wind(– Harnessing(the(zeitgeist?>studies/Technological>practice/Electronics/Powerhouse>Wind/

An issue is that the resource is no longer available.

Monday, 21 July 2014

#NZCTech Day 9 have we lost our way

What are we trying to achieve with the Technology Curriculum in schools? All the subjects that have been bundled into Technology want to get out, they don't see the relevance of the document on their subject. It doesn't allow for their knowledge and skills to be measured. Design and Visual Communication want out, so does Digital Technologies, then there is Food Technology. Is Technology the right place? Should there be more areas in our Curriculum? We are limited to the eight that we have now, these have been resourced to provide materials and curriculum support. But have they?

There is so much. Constructivism, PBL, the maker movement, so many ideas that need distilling.

Constructivism is a theory of knowledge that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas

The maker movement has rekindled interest in manufacturing and hardware, accompanied by the proliferation of inexpensive or less expensive distributed, democratizing manufacturing tools enabled the maker movement to lift off in the mid 2000s.

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject through the experience of problem solving. Students learn both thinking strategies and domain knowledge.

or is it...

Project-based learning (PBL) is considered an alternative to paper-based, rote memorization, teacher-led classrooms.

Technology was introduced as a new area for student learning in 1995. It was a critical addition to the New Zealand Curriculum, allowing students to keep pace with and understand social and technological change. Since then, the need for learning in this curriculum area has increased as our population has become more diverse,technologies have become more sophisticated, demands of the workplace have become more complex, and New Zealand needs to become more innovative to enable social and economic transformation.

Twenty-first century New Zealand needs students who are lifelong learners, confident and creative, connected and actively involved. To be successful citizens of the present and the future, they need interactive experiences in keeping with the technological communities of practice which are currently informing and developing our future.

As young New Zealanders, they also need to know about their technological past and that of other societies and cultures. This allows them to develop an awareness of the impacts and influences of technological developments on environments and societies, and vice versa.

New Zealand’s future relies on encouraging young New Zealanders to pursue careers with a technological focus.

Technology education not only gives all students a fundamental level of technological literacy, but also provides senior secondary students with an educational foundation for technology related careers.

Sometimes where I end up is a little bit strange, I have managed to find after a lot of searching the curriculum document of old

#NZCTech Day 8 Technological Literacy

Towards Technological Literacy

As a compulsory learning area technology education helps all students develop a technological literacy for general citizenship. This includes students coming to understand how technologies work, how technology impacts on people and vice versa, and how to undertake technological practice.
(Years 1-10)

Initially, post compulsory education in technology helps students to extend this literacy to gain knowledge and skills that might prepare them for trade apprenticeships, service professions and for possible careers across a range of technology-related industries.
 (Years 11-12) 

Technology is now an approved subject on the University canon of approved subjects for university entrance. Students can also enter for Scholarship in technology. Technology education in senior secondary provides for a more specialised technological literacy, where students gain knowledge and skills that prepare them for university courses and future professional careers in technology. These students may become future leaders of excellence through innovative technological practice. 
(Year 13)

from the document: Quick guide to the draft technology curriculum

This is an interesting way to look at the area and see the progression, I was surprised to see to see the comment that these students may become future leaders of excellence through innovative technological practice. Wouldn't this come earlier?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

#NZCTech day 7 IDA

Another teacher has identified some resources that they use for the Tech Systems: Identify, Describe, Analyse. This project is tarting to clarify some ideas on what i could do for my students.

The teacher had a good long talk to teachers of social science about "demonstrating understanding" within Technology systems, technology modelling and external portfolios. One thing that was suggested was the use of an activity called an IDA activity within the Junior schools to start developing kids ability to identify, describe, analyse.

Here are a number of examples I have made:

Tech Systems: Subsystems (L5/6) Ultimate Cup

Tech Systems: Subsystems (L5/6) Remote Control

Tech Modelling: Forms of modelling (L5/6) Mobile Wire framing

Information Management (L6) Folder Management

Key ideas within this IDA activity are that it always starts with an Image ... Kids learn to extract information from the image, identify what is happening, describe issues, themes, analyse stuff, improve on, etc

Although I end up with the same issue, these are based around electronics. I think I am going to have to develop some around programming. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

#NZCTech day six update

Another response back from a colleague,

This teacher found some of the indications for Tech systems quite confusing and hacked at them a bit to come up with these simpler objectives
  • L3: describe a technological system using specialised language and symbols
  • L4: explain transformation processes within a system
  • L5: explain transformation properties of subsystems
What kind of thing would you do with these?
  • At level 3, describe tech systems in terms of input/process/output using diagrams would work ... 
  • At level 4 you can use the csunplugged data representation resources to cover transformation processes (transformation of data into images) etc etc
  • At level 5 you get into subsystems ... as my junior course set kids up for both digital & electronic I look at things like TV remotes, input (buttons), transformation (encoding of data) and output (IR LED and modulation of light)
This is still work in progress and although I cover it I do not assess it very well. Too much to do ... not enough time.

Going by this, I think I am going down the right track.

If I am having this trouble, and it looks like others are as well, is the technology curriculum actually being taught? Or is it just parts of it?

Mapping information using google map engine lite

I have been working on a number of projects over the holidays, and I found an interesting one on #n4lpond.

A user had submitted the following item,

Google Maps Engine Lite

Maps Engine makes it easy to create and share maps online.

Now using the website, I grabbed the list of schools chosen for the POND Pioneer Schools
and put them into a google sheet document. You need to have labels at the top of the data set.

Upper Harbour Primary School, aucklandUpper Harbour Primary School
Elm Park School, aucklandElm Park School
St Paul’s College (Ponsonby)St Paul’s College (Ponsonby)
Waitakere CollegeWaitakere College
Kuranui CollegeKuranui College
Otaki CollegeOtaki College
Solway SchoolSolway School
Tawa IntermediateTawa Intermediate
Marlborough Boys’ CollegeMarlborough Boys’ College
Governors Bay SchoolGovernors Bay School
Burnside Primary School, christchurchBurnside Primary School
Cheviot Area School, cheviotCheviot Area School
Papanui High School, christchurchPapanui High School
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Kura KokiriTe Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Kura Kokiri
Waikite Valley SchoolWaikite Valley School
St Mary’s Catholic School RotoruaSt Mary’s Catholic School Rotorua

Now I needed to fix up a couple of locations, but the best thing was  I imported the data directly from google sheet and the map was created

#NZCTech why technology and science are separate

While I started the #NZCTech project, I have started to find some other information that is of interest to me, one around why Science and Technology have their own areas under the New Zealand Curriculum.

The introduction of STS (Science, Technology and Society (STS) framework.) and technological applications does appear to enhance the learning of science concepts, as well as to increase students' interest and motivation within their science classrooms. However, if science teachers choose to teach for technological outcomes in their science classrooms, then it is important that both teachers and students develop an understanding of technology, technology education and technological practice. In this way, teachers and students will develop an understanding that technology and science are two areas that can interact but are also distinct in nature.

Technology is a discipline in its own right (Mitcham, 1994) and is not a subset of other learning areas. For example, technological knowledge is not reducible to science, mathematics, or social studies learning areas. Science must not be seen as a gatekeeper for students undertaking further work in technology as this will limit students' learning in both fields. The development from, and use of, the technology curriculum will, one hopes, broaden understandings of technology and allow opportunities for enhancing the teaching and learning of both science and technology. School curricula and classroom practice can then be developed in such a way as to support the intention of the New Zealand Curriculum Framework (Ministry of Education, 1993a), Science in the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 1993b), and Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of
Education, 1995).

Technology Education in New Zealand,d.dGc

#NZCTech Day six

I have been in conversation through email with someone to explore the concept of Technological Systems a bit more, the following is part of a response.

Here is some recent writing on technological systems. Its in primary but I think it gives a good understanding of the early levels. This was the third focus This was the second focus

You will see that these give a good indication of the breadth of work that can be covered within technological systems. The research showed that it was better to start with simple systems such as a toaster than anything too complicated (e.g. a computer) as a starting point.

Its a good idea to read the explanatory paper too

Hope that this helps in your deliberations.

The idea?

I am going to pull apart the first one of these, Hydroponics, 
The students explored everyday objects as technological systems.

Through their work in the hydroponics unit, the students:
  • came to understand that a technological system transforms an input into an output
  • were able to identify the components of a hydroponic system
  • were able to identify the benefits of such a system.
These are the achievement objectives of level 1 and 2, as described in the resource. Getting students to understand inputs and outputs are important early on in coding, students should also be able to identify components. 

What is a technological system?

With the help of another PowerPoint presentation, the children were introduced to various simple systems and to the terms input, output, and transformation. The children then chose one of these systems, drew a sketch of it in their books, and labelled it. Many chose the popcorn maker, perhaps because it was the simplest to understand. 

Students worked through to identify a variety of different activities and what each one could be classed under: 

One of the ideas through the resource is getting student to look at Rube Goldberg machine,

A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970).

here are some videos that could show a Rube Goldberg machine, This is one a kid designed,

Ok Go, a band take the Rube Goldberg machine to the next level through their music videos.

Getting students to understand what happens in the background may not always be the best opportunity for learning. Having students come up with ideas on what happens in the background can open up other opportunities for learning. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

#NZCTech Day Five, skills or knowledge

Looking at the strategies for engaging students documents, there is a huge amount of knowledge that students should be looking at. I wonder how much is being carried out in schools. Is technology focussing on the skills aspect, rather than the knowledge. I know myself that I am focussing on the skills aspects within my courses, something that I hope by the end of this project I am working towards a more realistic view of technology. A blend of the skills and knowledge. One thing that I must say I am struggling with is finding a junior programme for years 9-10.

#NZCTech day five, reporting

There has been a question on the google group around how do we report at the junior levels,
Should it be BPA or NAME.

Achievement Objectives and Reporting

Achievement objectives in technology have been developed for each component to provide a focus for progression within the programme. They also provide guidance to teachers for the development of a series of coherent learning experiences that could sit within the programme and may be organised into interlinking units of work. Achievement objectives require interpretation by teachers to plan for and deliver multiple-level teaching to address student learning needs within their technology programme. Levelled achievement objectives are not specific Learning Outcomes. Achievement objectives are statements that need to be broken down by teachers into Learning Outcomes to support the planning and delivery of learning experiences, formative assessment and for reporting purposes.

Formative assessment information gained by teachers throughout the learning experiences should provide a picture of student achievement in terms of the achievements objectives. As teachers develop a shared understanding of what student achievement looks like at each level, reporting mechanisms can be effectively developed to ensure this information, along with suggested next steps in learning, is communicated to students, caregivers and subsequent teachers within or across schools. Communicating this level of information is critical to ensure student learning is not disrupted by a change in school and/or teacher.
So, I am still left wondering what could a reporting mechanism look like for technology?

#NZCTech day five

Reading the work, Teaching Computer Programming to Primary and Secondary School Students in New Zealand, Peter Eaton, October 2013

A strong perception fuelled from the media,, has erupted: that we need to be teaching our students how to write code.

"We need to change education to teach younger students to be programming experts in order to create more successful IT entrepreneurs."

The writer of the report formed the following conclusions:
  1. No change is required to the New Zealand Curriculum as it adequately provides for the teaching of Programming within Primary, Intermediate and Secondary schools.
  2. A change to dramatically increase our focus on programming within early schooling may have a negative effect on rates of study at tertiary levels and entrance to the profession, so I do not recommend a drastic change.
The writer proposes and offers supporting evidence for an alternative foci within education to achieve the same goals:
  1. That we increase the discoverability of programming within the existing curriculum.
  2. That a focus on creative problem solving is more likely to produce people that the media (and the public) associate with success in programming than increased depth in teaching.
However, the writer of the report believes that the most interesting result of the research was a potential discovery not originally part of the investigation and he suggests further focus subsequent to his report:
  1. There is an indiction that in increasing the discoverability of programming, we may be able to address the gender imbalance within the industry.
 If further investigation shows this to be true, he believes that it may lead to a significant enough reason to overturn his recommendation against a large change with education.

Reading this 28 page report has given me a number of ideas and questions. the writer of the report looks at the lower level Technology - Technological Systems, however they do not reference what achievement objective they are trying to meet within their unit of work.

Do we need expert programmers. 
We are in an area of schooling where our students are still 6-7 years away from a career, I take the year 11 student who still have three years of schooling and 3 years of tertiary study. The shifts required are massive in education.

This year's hottest career opportunities are in construction, engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), science and the primary sector, according to an annual report aimed at young career seekers.

If we are to develop Programming into its own separate area, will we end up like Science, where the exciting parts get taken down to lower levels to leave more of a theoretical upper end. Will having programming at the lower levels turn students off if we make a focus change in our education.

Myself, I do not limit students to just a coding subject, instead it is a bit like what I went through at Polytechnic, a bit of, which gives students an opportunity to learn about and develop what they are interested in. I look at the Science Curriculum, and with the specialisation of a choice at Level 2. Why can't science be a bit of a subject as well. Why can't a student take a bit of physics, chemistry and biology at level 2 in one subject, rather than taking up three.

I have my students do a bit of Digital Information, Digital Media, Programming and computer science. It allows them the opportunity to develop three skill areas, each link into each other to develop a broader outcome.

If we limit coding to lower levels, we have the possibility of turning students off.

The writer of the paper has a statement in his work, that points out that the features of STEM education that engage students are exactly what we associate with the technology learning leaning area within the NZC 2007, and perhaps provide a warning that a focus on programming at the expense of these may have the opposite effect that we may intend if we make a focus within our education. This is not the only piece of research published that should give us pause:
"Nearly 28% of high school freshman declare interest in a STEM-related-field - around 1 million students each year. Of these students, over 57% will lose interest in STEM by the time they graduate from high school. " Munce & Fraser 2012, Where are the STEM students?
What are the facts, it is interesting that there has been no reference to some data, NZQA has the statistics for each standard.

The stats are: This is the Programming(coding) Standard only, this is the total number of students taking the standard, not just those that achieved the standard.

2011Level 13246
2012Level 13866
2013Level 14076
2012Level 21482
2013Level 21430
2013Level 3631

While there has been a pick up in Level 1, it is level 2 and three that students maybe choosing alternative pathways. There is normally a drop of half students from Year 11 to Year 12 and then to Year 13.

There is a lot happening, what certain groups need to realise is that, 2013 was the first year of Achievement standards programming. We are in an infancy. We have had a change, now we need to look at the next levels down.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

#NZCTech day four

Wow, don't know if I really want to post every day...

I have been reading a couple of papers lately, one from Peter Eaton who wrote his post grad research paper on We need to change the Curriculum to teach coding in Yr1-8. I hope to have some findings added in the next day or so.

Another paper that has been sent to me is around Technology and the missing strand, Society.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

#NZCTech day three

This is part of my 100 day blogging project.

There have been a few comments on through twitter around Technology and the New Zealand Curriculum.

Am thinking about how we can unite and break down the silos within #NZCTech Knowing the #NZCTech is No1

This is an interesting comment, there has seemed to be a number of schools that don't let their teachers look at the New Zealand Curriculum around the Digital technologies subject area. As digital technologies was computing, there was not a need around it. It was developing a skill set, something that was only reported on in school reports.

Another comment outlined another aspect, but 'manual training' just seemed to morph into technology.” "It's complicated"

Though, I have been thinking today about another issue. When the curriculum was developed there was a number of issues. Digital technologies did not exist, and Design and Visual Communication teachers had there own area already at a secondary level. The resources and material that were written for the area focussed around some knowledge and skills, however a more detailed strategies for engaging students could be written to support this. Material has been difficult to transfer into the different contexts as some areas of Technology are not Generic.

I have a project that I have to work on in the next couple of days. I aim for Level 3, 4 and 5 of the Technological Systems strand. 

A couple of resources come to mind, some of these I trialled last year with the hour of code. Now the aim of this was to get students to do development of ideas that did not require a computer. 

The first one is getting a student to develop a robot using simple input, output, processing. Getting students to develop a method for programming the robot

The other looks at storing data in binary

What does this have to do with the technology curriculum? Get students to understand that there is something happening in the black box. Maybe we could look at DNS and what happens when someone goes to a website.

Though I do like the idea of the black box being the washing machine at home, how many students know what happens in the cycle?

Achievement Objective
Students will:
  • Understand that technological systems are represented by symbolic language tools and understand the role played by the "black box" in technological systems.
Teacher Guidance
To support students to develop understanding of technological systems at level 3, teachers could:
  • provide students with the opportunity to investigate a range of technological systems and guide them to understand that technological systems do not require further human design decision making during the transformation process for the inputs to be transformed to outputs. That is, a technological system will produce particular outputs in an automated fashion once the inputs have initiated the transformation process;
  • guide students to understand that a 'black box' is a term used to describe a part of a system where the inputs and outputs are known but the transformation process is not known;
  • provide examples of technological systems that contain unknown transformation processes (black boxes) and guide them to understand the role these play in terms of the advantages and/or disadvantages for developers and users;
  • provide opportunity for students to discuss that the fitness for purpose of a technological system relies on the selection of components, and how they are connected to ensure the system is technically feasible and acceptable (safe, ethical, environmentally friendly, economically viable, etc -as appropriate to particular systems);
  • provide students with examples of how technological systems can be represented and guide students to interpret the specialised language and symbol conventions used;
  • provide students with opportunity to use specialised language and symbol conventions to represent technological systems to others.
Students can:
  • describe what 'black box' refers to within a technological system and the role of particular black boxes within technological systems;
  • identify possible advantages and disadvantages of having black boxed transformations within particular technological systems;
  • describe how the components, and how they are connected, allow particular systems to be technical feasible and socially acceptable;
  • describe particular technological systems using specialised language and symbol conventions.

Achievement Objective
Students will:
  • Understand how technological systems employ control to allow for the transformation of inputs to outputs.
Teacher Guidance
To support students to develop understanding of technological systems at level 4, teachers could:
  • provide students with the opportunity to investigate a range of technological systems and guide them to identify how transformation processes are controlled;
  • support students to understand that control mechanisms can function to enhance the fitness for purpose of technological systems by maximising the desired outputs and minimising the undesirable outputs;
  • provide students with a scenario outlining technical and acceptability specifications for a system and support them to explore and research components and connectivity factors to determine what components would be suitable and how they could be connected to meet system specifications;
  • support students to communicate system related details effectively. System related details include such things as what components would be feasible, layout requirements, and how they would need to be connected. Effective communication uses specialised language and symbols.
Students can:
  • explain how transformation processes within a system are controlled;
  • describe examples to illustrate how the fitness for purpose of technological systems can be enhanced by the use of control mechanisms;
  • communicate, using specialised language and drawings, system related details that would allow others to create a system that meets both technical and acceptability specifications.

Achievement Objective
Students will:
  • Understand the properties of subsystems within technological systems.
Teacher Guidance
To support students to develop understanding of technological systems at level 5, teachers could:
  • guide students to understand that the properties of a subsystem relate to its transformation performance and its level of connective compatibility and that additional interface components may be required to ensure a subsystem can be effectively integrated into a system;
  • provide students with the opportunity to analyse a range of examples of complex technological systems that contain at least one subsystem. Complex technological systems are those designed to change inputs to outputs through more than one transformation process;
  • guide students to identify subsystems within technological systems and explain them in terms of their properties;
  • support students to use examples to gain insight into how the selection and interfacing of subsystems relies on understanding the transformation and connective properties of subsystems to ensure the best 'fit' with the required system specifications. Examples should include the subsystem selection and interfacing practices of technologists.
Students can:
  • identify subsystems within technological systems and explain their transformation and connective properties;
  • discuss how transformation and connection properties of subsystems impact on system layout and component selection;
  • discuss examples to illustrate how interfaces take into account the connective compatibility between subsystems and other system components.

Monday, 14 July 2014

#NZCTech day two

One thing that has been a factor of the Technology Curriculum, is its intensive use of resources.

Technology is a resource intensive curriculum, in part due to the requirement to cover three strands across seven technological areas, and also because students and teachers value the learning that can be gained through practical hands-on activities.

The materials required for practical activities cost both money and time to obtain and prepare. The rooms and equipment are also resource intensive. Teachers expressed concern about inadequate classroom support, preparation time, budget, equipment, buildings/spaces and classroom materials including assessment materials.

Sadly, the government approach to professional development and resourcing the curriculum has been to promote the curriculum as flexible and non-prescriptive and able to be delivered through existing school resources.

PPTA released a report in 2006 around the New Zealand Curriculum and in particular the Technology Curriculum. 
The source for this is PPTA.

Reading through the report, I still find of the issues that were outlined still very prominent today.

I include the summary of finding below, as well as the recommendations

Snapshot of Findings
Technology is a complicated curriculum with three strands and seven areas, and allowing diverse methods of delivery. Many teachers say it is difficult to make sense of the various elements of the curriculum and to weave those understandings into their classroom pedagogy.

Some are disillusioned with the shift of emphasis away from the 'doing' side of technology to the academic process. The curriculum document requires of students a reasonably high level of literacy and abstract thinking and teachers see this as hindering the development of technology as a subject that combines and values both practical and theoretical knowledge.

Others are having success by reclaiming technology in a more traditional way to meet the needs of their students and their school community. In the senior area in particular, a growing number of schools are opting for courses with a strong practical and trades focus and with close links to industry.

PPTA believes that the revised technology curriculum should balance theory with applied concepts and use language that is accessible and clear in intent.

Technology teachers believe that the subject they teach is as worthwhile and valuable as any other in the school curriculum. They enjoy working with students and seeing student success. They say the undervaluing of the technology curriculum in some schools reflects a lingering prejudice about the relative value of academic and vocational subjects. A lack of understanding of the curriculum, by some teachers of non-technology areas and by some school communities, also persists.

PPTA believes that professional development for school communities, that includes explanation of, and resource support for, the curriculum, would help resolve some of the issues about the status of technology.

Professional development & resourcing
Teachers have been disappointed by the lack of professional support for the technology subject. The provision of teacher professional development and support in technology appears to have been shifted to industry bodies such as IPENZ (Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand), some of whom received initial funding from government rather than via the education sector where teachers would seek to access this support in the first instance.

Technology is a resource intensive curriculum, in part due to the requirement to cover three strands across seven technological areas, and also because students and teachers value the learning that can be gained through practical hands-on activities. The materials required for practical activities cost both money and time to obtain and prepare. The rooms and equipment are also resource intensive. Teachers expressed concern about inadequate classroom support, preparation time, budget, equipment, buildings/spaces and classroom materials including assessment materials.

Sadly, the government approach to professional development and resourcing the curriculum has been to promote the curriculum as flexible and non-prescriptive and able to be delivered through existing school resources.

PPTA believes technology teachers need access to funded, ongoing professional development to enable them to keep pace with the developments in a constantly changing curriculum area with multiple fields of knowledge, as well as appropriately skilled ancillary support that frees them to focus on teaching.

The draft revised technology curriculum has been published for comment. PPTA believes it is essential that the problems to date are acknowledged as part of this consultation and teachers and schools should be fully involved in any change.

Technology facilities & class size
Teachers’ concerns about their school technology facilities ranged from inadequate size and/or layout for the number of students in the class and a related shortage of equipment, to a complete lack of equipment and facilities, or – of even more concern - unsafe facilities. One of the focus group schools had a new purpose-built technology block and another had gradually managed to bring all the disparate technology areas together. However, in other schools visited the facilities ranged from modest to poor.

PPTA believes that all technology facilities should be subject to a full health and safety audit and where necessary non-compliant facilities should be brought up to standard to meet guidelines in the ‘Safety and Technology Education’ (1998) manual as well as the requirements of First Schedule to the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995, as referred to in the Ministry of Education Health and Safety Code of Practice for State and State Integrated Schools.

Technology teachers say that the volume of assessment and associated paperwork undermines their ability to focus on teaching and learning. They are also concerned about constant changes in standards and in interpretation leading to inconsistent marking.

Difficulties interpreting achievement standards and their perceived lack of a hands-on focus are also prompting teachers to opt for unit standards. Many say the unit standards are often easier for students to understand, support a more practical focus involving less written work and clearly identify the skills and outcomes required. However, they reject the view that unit standards are an easy option.

PPTA believes that consistency in the interpretation of standards supported by clear documentation including exemplars, timely feedback and ongoing professional development, would go a long way to supporting an improved environment for the teaching and learning in technology.

G3 – degree equivalence
The 2003 decision by the Alternative Disputes Resolution panel abolished degree- equivalence and left more than 2000 teachers, many of them in technology, facing a salary disadvantage of some $3000 a year because they could no longer reach the top step 14 of the salary scale.

This decision has had repercussions for the recruitment and retention of technology teachers and for the status of the subject itself. It has formalised the academic/vocational divide in secondary schools and made the specialist skills and knowledge that teachers of woodwork, metalwork, clothing, home economics and typing appear less valuable than other subjects.

Teachers who had been teaching for many years and were involved in, if not leading the implementation of the new curriculum, felt particularly disenfranchised in being told their qualifications were no longer good enough to access the top salary step.

The G3 diploma (Diploma in Secondary Specialist Subjects) offered a pathway for about 1000 teachers to gain access to step 14 and many believe the diploma had been valuable. A second diploma is currently under development for teachers who were ineligible for the first one and should be available next year.

Recruitment and retention
Recruitment and retention of technology teachers is clearly problematic. The seven technological areas require a degree of specialisation at senior levels that is not readily available in the teaching workforce.

There is also a declining number of teacher education courses offering the full range of technology specialities and this may be reflected in respondents’ views that many of the student and graduate teachers of technology do not have the practical skills or experience required to safely operate the equipment in technology workshops.

Teaching, as a career, also cannot compete with the superior employment conditions of most qualified technologists and tradespeople. An experienced trades professional or technologist wishing to move into a teaching career and to be able to move to the top of the teacher salary scale would usually need to upgrade their technology qualification to a level 7 qualification (equivalent to a degree) as well as completing a full year of teacher education, the equivalent of two years’ full-time study for many trades people. Currently there is no course available that enables people to complete both of these requirements, and there are no financial incentives.

The G3 issue has made it abundantly clear to current and potential teachers entering teaching from a trades professional background that they will not be valued by policy makers or compensated in the same way as a person entering teaching with a bachelors degree.

Technology teachers in intermediate/manual/technology centres
The teaching of technology in years 7 to 8 provides an essential grounding for students learning in years 9 to 13, as well as providing valuable life skills for students.

But technology teachers in manual, intermediate and technology centres at these year levels say technology, and the specialist knowledge required to teach it, is perceived as less valuable than other subjects. Many say that their curriculum time is constantly being cut back or used by their schools for other activities. This reduces their ability to teach the six required curriculum areas as well as limiting the kinds of projects they can carry out.

The inadequate focus on skills and the breadth of the curriculum are also difficult to cover in the time available. Some say their schools even discourage the teaching of basic skills (for example how to use a ruler, a file, a screwdriver, or a sewing machine), despite the fact that parent communities expect and ask for these skills.

The teachers also feel that despite being specialists they are not provided the same opportunities as their colleagues in secondary schools to undertake professional development.
PPTA believes that it is essential that specialist technology teachers be employed in technology centres and intermediates. The employment of these specialist teachers would help to ensure that students have learned the basic skills and knowledge necessary to move from year 7 and 8 on to senior secondary school. 

11. Recommendations

1. That the Education and Science Select Committee urgently initiate an inquiry into the staffing, resourcing and delivery of the technology curriculum. 

2. That the Ministry of Education urgently develop a strategy that ensures: 

a. The establishment of a well-funded two-year pre-service teacher education course designed to produce technology graduates with a level 7 subject qualification and teacher education. 

b. That students in years 7 and 8 in technology centres are taught by specialist technology teachers. 

c. That the revised technology curriculum balances theory and applied concepts/skills and uses language that is accessible and clear in intent. 

d. That high quality curriculum exemplars across the full range of technological areas in levels 3 to 8 of the revised curriculum are produced and made available to teachers. 

e. That priority is given to improving the range and quality of assessment exemplars for NCEA technology. 

f. That adequate professional development along with in-school support in all aspects of technology is provided for technology teachers throughout New Zealand. 

g. That priority is given to covering the full range of technological areas in the allocation of senior subject advisor positions over at least the next three years. 

h. That tagged funding is provided to schools to resource ancillary support for technology departments. 

 i. That technology facilities in all schools are subject to a full health and safety audit, to ensure compliance with Occupational Safety and Health requirements, followed by appropriate funded remedial action. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

developing #NZCTech project

I guess this will be part of my 100 days blogging project.

The Technology Curriculum, this is what Computing, Information and Communication Technology and Digital Technologies Teachers should be teaching and making judgements against. Especially at Years 7-10 levels.

There is still some schools that continue to ignore this, and do their own thing, which I suspect is allowed under the tomorrow schools. For those of us that look at the New Zealand Curriculum, 

The National Curriculum is composed of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa which set the direction for student learning and provide guidance for schools as they design and review their curriculum.

The relationship between The New Zealand Curriculum and the school curriculum

The New Zealand Curriculum sets the direction for teaching and learning in English-medium New Zealand schools. But it is a framework rather than a detailed plan. This means that while every school curriculum must be clearly aligned with the intent of this document, schools have considerable flexibility when determining the detail. In doing this, they can draw on a wide range of ideas, resources, and models.

Schools are required to base their curriculum on the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum, to encourage and model the values, and to develop the key competencies at all year levels.

In years 1–10, schools are required to provide teaching and learning in English, the arts, health and physical education, mathematics and statistics, science, the social sciences, and technology.

What is Technology about?

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.

Technology is never static. It is influenced by and in turn impacts on the cultural, ethical, environmental, political, and economic conditions of the day.

Do we need to refine Technology?

Why study technology?

The aim is for students to develop a broad technological literacy that will equip them to participate in society as informed citizens and give them access to technology-related careers. They learn practical skills as they develop models, products, and systems. They also learn about technology as a field of human activity, experiencing and/or exploring historical and contemporary examples of technology from a variety of contexts.

Technology is associated with the transformation of energy, information, and materials. Technological areas include structural, control, food, and information and communications technology and biotechnology. Relevant contexts can be as varied as computer game software, food products, worm farming, security systems, costumes and stage props, signage, and taonga.

It isn't until we look at the study of Technology that we start to look at the areas in which Technological areas are included.

Technological areas include structural, control, food, and information and communications technology and biotechnology.

Under this work, information and communications technology will be referred to as Digital Technologies.

Technologically literate young people: -have a broad understanding of how and why things work
-understand how technological products and technological systems are developed
-can critically evaluate technological developments and trends
-can design and evaluate their own solutions in response to needs and opportunities.
Like any other literacy, technological literacy is developed by exposure to a wide range of relevant experiences over time.
Technological system knowledge includes an understanding of input, output, transformation processes, and control,
and an understanding the notion of the 'black box', particularly in terms of sub-system design.
Understanding redundancy and reliability within system design and performance,
and an understanding of the operational parameters of systems are also included.
developing ideas of system design, development, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

The reason why I put the stuff up is... isn't this coding? It already exists in the curriculum...

here is the Technology Systems explanatory paper how about rewriting it for

Page 73-79, To support students to develop understanding of technological systems at Level...

so, the challenge could be, how to write a series of engaging projects for each level