Sunday, 30 August 2015

Curious Minds, What might Digital Technologies look like

This week saw the fourth meeting of the Curious Minds, Review of the Positioning of Digital technologies in the New Zealand Curriculum.

What the Ministry have heard
There is a "Digital Imperative".
  • Digital Technologies need an increased presence or focus in the National Curriculum
  • Work is needed to determine if the curriculum support/reflects this.
  • Digital Citizenship is important in Years 0 - 13
Vision and Principles in the NZC
  • The vision may need to be reviewed to include 'digitally capable'
Achievement Objectives in the NZC
  • Every learner needs to know how to be critical consumer of digital technologies
  • Computational and logical thinking through active learning needs to be supported for learners from Y0-13.
  • Learner need to know how to create, not just use artefacts.
Technology Learning Area
  • Digital Technologies should remain as part of the Technology learning Learning Area but be strengthened and structured with explicit progressions for digital technology.
  • As long as the teaching and learning of digital technologies occurs, as above, it did not matter whether it remained within technology or was imbedded across the curriculum.
  • There needs to be significant, well funded, relevant and ongoing PLD to shift practice for ALL teachers.
  • Exemplars of authentic programmes of work and lesson plans are needed to show contextualized learning.
  • Resources are needed at all levels, including - PLD, ITE, teacher support materials.
  • This must be part of a larger transformational change across the sector (ITE, PLD, infrastructure, guidance, parents, families and whanau)
  • There needs to be an acknowledgement of learner and whanau demand.
Teaching and Learning
  • Authentic and integrated experiences to enable high quality teaching and learning is the key driver.
  • Learners will flourish in a digital world.
  • Pedagogy needs to inform planning, teaching and learning.
  • Evidence, examplars and guidance about how to teach digital technologies is required.
  • The support of leadership is imperative.
  • Assessment tools need to link pedagogy to the future
  • There needs to be a change in the assessment system and the tools available.
The ministry put up a slide in What they haven't heard.
  • No change is required to the national curriculum.
  • Schools, leaders and teachers are fully equipped to teach digital technologies
  • Digital technologies is relevant to some students.
  • Digital technologies is coding.
  • Coding should be compulsory from Y0-13
  • Digital technologies is already sufficiently explicit in the curriculum.

My Comment
One of the biggest issues that has still really to be resolved is what is Digital technologies, Learning with Digital technologies is still a huge issue and one that is causing issues. While the ministry agree that concepts of skills and knowledge in Digital technologies/Computational thinking/Computer Science is necessary, it still gets caught by the digital technologies used within classrooms and the changing nature of teaching and learning for all students.
I think the intention was to gather information, then they'll write the plan, based upon some of the suggestions that have been given along the way.
One thing that has come through every discussion has been that the technology Curriculum needs fixed. Digital Technologies needs to be fully independent  or a fully independent area within technology.

I include the proposal of what a Digital technologies curriculum could look like, this was looked at in Meeting 3, and some more comments in meeting 4, before another proposal was put forward and the elephant in the room was discussed.

We do have a full endorsement that it's important, that it needs prominence, and that it needs to be from primary levels up.

So four options have been talked about through the meeting
- Separate area
- Address the shortcomings of technology as a learning area. (It was interesting seeing a possible model be captured which would have meant the removal of Design and Visual Communication)
- Look at integrated/restructured delivery
- Be added to the Humanities area

The ministry have taken what has been captured and talked about, and are looking at possible trials and pilots of what this could look like. So we wait to see what that could be.

What came out nice and clear, is what is digital technologies isn't.

It is not Unit standards, it is not Digital Information (office productivity tools)
It is not knowing how to use ms access. 
It is around developing understanding and using databases, however MS access removes the complexity required for understanding of how databases are used and created. Simple Queries of drag and drop components do not help develop the deep understanding. 
It is not around just using software programs. 
This is what they are saying Digital Technologies is, it is Computational thinking, maybe this is what the Learning area could be called, "Computational Participation".

Computational thinking (CT) is a problem-solving process that includes (but is not limited to) the following characteristics: 
  • Formulating problems in a way that enables us to use a computer and other tools to help solve them. 
  • Logically organizing and analyzing data 
  • Representing data through abstractions such as models and simulations 
  • Automating solutions through algorithmic thinking (a series of ordered steps) 
  • Identifying, analyzing, and implementing possible solutions with the goal of achieving the most efficient and effective combination of steps and resources 
  • Generalizing and transferring this problem solving process to a wide variety of problems 
These skills are supported and enhanced by a number of dispositions or attitudes that are essential dimensions of CT. These dispositions or attitudes include: 
It is not simple media, using wizards or tools, its not WYSIWYG. It is about higher level computational thinking applied across contexts.

It is going to involve a series change in thinking from years 9 at present. 

If the goal is to give it creditability alongside physics and calculus, that will come at a cost.

This will require Resources, Professional Development and a new way of thinking, teaching and implementation not seen in New Zealand Schools. Potentially it may not get that funding. We can say it needs funding, but as we know with other implementations, funding is not ongoing.

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