Saturday, 2 January 2016

Digital Technologies Education Things to Watch in 2016 - NZ Perspective

I was looking at this and wondered what they would look like within a New Zealand context,

Digital Technologies Education Things to Watch in 2016
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” I was thinking about writing a post with predictions but realised that I’m not smart enough for that. What I do have are some things I think are worth keeping an eye on over the coming year.

Very Inexpensive Computers – There are a growing number of under $20 computers coming on the market. They are being touted as amazing teaching tools but I’m not so sure. We have already had the development of the Raspberry Pi and what difference has that made to teaching and learning in the classroom. If I were to make a prediction I would predict they will not live up to the hype.

BBC:MicroBit – one could argue that this is included in the very inexpensive computer category but I think it deserves to be called out on its own because it is different in some important ways. One is that it is really being rolled out in a huge way. Another is that there are a good number of cool looking tools created for using it. And a third reason is that there is actually being a lot of professional development being provided overseas. Will that be enough to make it really succeed? I don’t know but I’ll be watching from across the pond and so will many other people. Will this work in a New Zealand context, I am hoping so, is it a changer for the way we look at computer programming within schools. Do we need to look at electronics more than developing simple quiz programs?

MOOCs and other Online CS Teaching tools – I expect the evidence to continue to show that these do not increase or broaden participation of girls and minorities. On the other hand, I expect a lot of people to promote them as “the answer.” They are low cost “solutions” to a problem a lot of people in government and education administration want to check of their lists. Saying “it’s available online” helps them avoid spending real money on real teachers and real programs that really work. We’ll see. This I fear will become a replacement for a teacher in the classroom, we already have a number of staffing issues in New Zealand and I have already been asked a number of times to create online course material. Do we need to look at this as filler for a shortage of teachers in the mean time?

Curious Minds, Review of the Positioning of Digital Technologies – Hopefully something will come out this year about how Digital Technologies will look, will it still be within the Technology Learning area but with some separate achievement objectives, or will it be a separate learning area. Will it have a computational thinking process or will it be developed around creativity and innovation? How will adoption go? Will it draw students towards a STEM focus? What will be the popular strands or achievement objectives? How will programming languages go or will it be catered for concepts through Scratch, Blockly and Snap!. Will it include digital media, digital information, electronics and infrastructure? So many questions. I go back and forth in my mind as to how I think they will be answered a year (or year and a half) from now. Keep watching. It’s going to be important.

Python vs Java vs drag vs drop programming – Python has been growing in popularity in New Zealand secondary education for the last several years. Will TouchDevelop make a difference in the coming years. How are schools coping with students that have been using scratch at primary and intermediate, will there need to be a change? How will programming languages like java and python work through the next year? If students are doing python at years 9 and 10, how will they like doing it for another 3 years at 11, 12 and 13?  Could there be a movement to Snap! and similar at years 9 and 10.

Computer Science for Everyone – A lot is going to depend on professional development. Can they recruit and train enough teachers? What will curriculum look like? It’s going to be interesting watching.

Well that is the big six for me. What are you looking to see succeed or fail in 2016? Have I listed your concerns? Do you have predictions or anything else to add? That’s what comments are for.

One outside the box is the Auckland University inclusion of Digital technologies into Table B as of the 2017 enrolment. What will it look like and include. I hope that there is some consideration into all the strands of Digital Technologies.

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