Digital technologies into the future

November 2011


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TRACY BOWKER of Cognition Education reflects on how teachers need to evolve their teaching as digital technology outgrows its curriculum. 


In November 2010, Cognition Education, the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Information and Communication Technologies Group (NZICT) collaborated to plan and host the Digital Technologies Symposium. This was part of the ‘final hurrah’ of the Digital Technologies Guidelines (DTG) project that Cognition led for three years. The project developed modules to support specialist digital technology teaching and learning for years 11–13. These modules were then shaped into a new body of learning and used as the base for developing achievement standards. Digital technology is now considered an integral part of the technology learning area.

Since the symposium, digital technology teachers have been developing new course outlines that reflect the changes made in this area and better reflect 21st century students. Teachers have been grappling with the idea of what constitutes a subject and whether it is still appropriate to label courses and content that contains new and exciting material, with subject names that no longer fit. New course outlines require new content and NZACDITT (New Zealand Association of Computing and Digital Information Technology Teachers) members have been proactive in supporting each other, developing and sharing teaching and learning plans, links, resources and ideas and sharing assessments. The listserv that supports the members of this association has been particularly active and this has ensured participants’ responses are discussed and managed in a timely and supportive online environment.

On the subject of assessment, NCEA level 1 achievement standards have been implemented in 2011 with the next levels to follow in subsequent years. The uptake of these standards has been excellent, especially as the implementation has not been without difficulty.  Not only do teachers have to understand the nature, purpose and expected outcomes of the standards, but in many instances they have
had to change their practice to ensure the standard of work now reflects level 6 of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

From the outset, professional learning was essential to the success of the DTG project. The regional model developed for this project has continued, and regions across New Zealand are actively involved in professional learning. There are a growing number of opportunities for digital technology teachers to further enhance their practice in this evolving area. Web spaces such as Techlink advertise courses and collate in one space all of the support material for the technology learning area, including digital technology. The senior secondary teaching guide for technology is also available to support teachers to develop quality teaching and learning programmes at levels 6 to 8 of the NZC. One component of the DTG was the closer interaction between schools, tertiary institutions and industry and it is exciting to see this collaboration forging ahead, with many institutions actively supporting digital technology teachers.

Digital technology as a specialist teaching and learning area needs to keep looking to the future as the nature of the content allows and makes necessary. The subject has an immense opportunity to become an integral part of the secondary school environment, with its ability to engage and motivate students and to inspire them to dream about the creation of tools and technology that do not currently exist.


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