Digital technology competition introduces new curriculum

Issue: Volume 97, Number 11

Posted: 25 June 2018
Reference #: 1H9jMB

A new digital technology competition aims to help teachers introduce the new digital technologies curriculum and get students problem solving.

Students from Years 1–13 are being encouraged to identify and solve an issue in their school or community by using digital technologies as part of a joint initiative between the Ministry of Education and the IT industry.

The 123Tech Challenge(external link) is modelled on the Tech Hub Crest Challenge, which has been available to Years 9–10 students over the last three years.

Last year a group of Year 10 students from Hornby High School won the national Tech Hub Crest Challenge with their app, which provided a filtered hub for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Maths and digital technology teacher Ben Carter, who led the group, says there were many learning outcomes for students involved, including planning, research, development, and teamwork.

“Each one of the developmental steps as part of that app really had a different focus. So the research helped them to understand a concept or a topic and let them hone that skill. The development phase was about how we could conceptualise the app, what it would look like and how it would change as a result of testing it on users.”

The school plans to enter the 123Tech Challenge(external link) this year, but Ben has also integrated elements from last year’s competition into his digital technologies teaching.

“We have included the same mandatory need for a log – so making sure they’re writing down what they’ve done, who’s responsible for what; we have incorporated group work; we have made it app focused so that the kids are actually designing and developing an app that will help in some way,” he says.

“As part of their reflective process and as a part of Hornby High School’s learn, create, share pedagogy we blog at school, so that’s when they’ll all be tasked with blogging about what they thought of the whole process overall and what they took away from the experience, which is what some of the questions were in that final presentation to Tech Hub and the Royal Society.”

Ben believes digital education provides students with more opportunities in a tech-oriented world.

“Participating in these sorts of events or working with some form of digital technologies throughout their educational career will really prepare them for the future.”

An industry perspective

IT Professionals New Zealand Chief Executive Paul Matthews says each of the four levels of the 123Tech Challenge(external link) are linked to requirements in the new Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko curriculum content.

“It’s very closely related to the progress outcomes and a lot of them are based on problem solving as much as digital technologies – so, how you break down a problem into the component parts, how you address each of those component parts and then bring them back together to ensure you’ve got a solution to the problem you’re trying to solve.”

The competition closely reflects the contents of the new curriculum because both were developed in partnership with the IT industry. As such, 123Tech(external link) can be used as a resource for teachers to transition into integrating the new curriculum content.

“We’re coming at it from almost a curriculum-out perspective, thinking about what was in the curriculum – not just the words but the intended sort of learning outcomes were, what the skills and common ideas and things that kids coming through that process would have when they finished and really built it back from there.”

Students need to have an understanding of digital technologies that goes deeper than how to use technology and into how it actually works, says Paul. The challenge is a way of bringing that knowledge to life.

He believes ensuring access to digital and technological knowledge across the board is important to an equitable society.

“A number of schools are already doing really good things in this space and a number of kids are in a really privileged position to be able to get this stuff,” he says.

“It’s creating an equity sort of situation where everybody who goes out into society once they’ve finished school has that ability to harness tech and understands what’s going on in that digital world.

“It’s about bringing that to all kids and ensuring that they have the skills and the competencies they need to thrive in today’s world.”  

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:10 am, 25 June 2018

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