New curriculum content to equip students for future

Issue: Volume 99, Number 1

Posted: 3 February 2020
Reference #: 1HA503

Watch the first of a five-part video series on implementing the revised Digital Technologies & Hangarau Matihiko (DT&HM) curriculum content.

The Ministry of Education wants to see digital technologies learning taking place as part of a rich local curriculum. This is about ensuring children and young people are equipped for the workplace and society of the future, says Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Deputy Secretary Early Learning Student Achievement.

“We know the pace of digital change is massive. It’s exciting but it brings challenges. We have revised digital learning in the national curriculum to support schools and students to thrive in this rapidly changing world. 

“The new Digital Technologies & Hangarau Matihiko curriculum content isn’t about students sitting in classrooms using devices all day, it’s about tamariki and rangatahi learning to be innovative, creative, think critically and work together,” she says.

Schools around the country are already working with the revised curriculum content, ensuring that students from Year 1 to 13 have the skills and competencies they need for the future. All schools must be teaching this new technology or Hangarau curriculum content from 2020 and beyond.   

Solid grounding in concepts

The DT&HM curriculum content supports students to be innovative, reflective and critical in designing new models, products, software systems and tools to benefit people.

Jim Taylor from software and analytics company Theta says the landscape is ever-changing and people need core skills such as knowing how to structure and use data, and how to approach digital problem solving. 

“You see increasing numbers of new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) incorporated into products, the Internet of Things and the emergence of 5G. But there are key underlying concepts and understandings that guide you through using and adopting these technologies. If students have a solid grounding in that approach, it can help them adapt and learn how to use these different technologies.

“An understanding of computational thinking is very important. People often use it in tasks without realising it, but an understanding of how to break down and tackle a problem using a piece of technology is an important skill set in the workplace,” he says. 

Solving real-world problems

Information Technology Professionals (ITPNZ) have been involved in the development of the DT&HM curriculum content. Chief executive Paul Matthews says the skills and competencies students will learn will help them to ‘think’ like technology so they can manipulate it to achieve good outcomes.

“This is where it gets really valuable, because it’s not just about our industry, but about society as a whole. We want our children to change from being users and consumers of technology to creating with technology and driving change forward,” says Paul.

Children will develop competencies and learn about the underpinning concepts of digital technology, before advancing to designing and creating solutions using technology.

“Technology is just the tool – it’s the thinking that goes into it that really matters and that’s why the curriculum content begins at Year 1,” he says.

Support for teachers and kaiako

The new DT&HM curriculum content can be taught in a purely digital context or incorporated into other subject areas from maths, science and English to hard and soft materials and there is PLD and mentoring available to help teachers feel confident in engaging with the new learning. Teachers as individuals or schools as a group can assess their readiness using a self-review tool(external link), found under the resources section of link).   

To support leaders, principals and boards of trustees through this curriculum change – a newly released Implementation Support Tool(external link) is available from the Technology Online website, link) 

The Tahi Rua Toru Tech Challenge(external link) is part of the implementation support package being provided to schools and kura. It offers mentors and resources for teachers to work on local problems using digital technology to find solutions, says Paul. 

NZ Tech Chief Executive Graeme Muller discusses why it’s important to work with industry. “The tech sector would really like to find ways that they can work with schools in their town or city – and see what they can do to help prepare New Zealand’s future generations.

“Don’t just think about IT when you think about technology – think about future businesses.  We’re seeing companies like banks, farmers, orchardists, and even construction firms, needing more and more digital technology.

“The tech industry is now New Zealand’s third largest exporter, and is on track to be larger than the tourism sector in the next five years.”

Digital learning around Aotearoa

The Education Gazette’s video series and related articles will look at how some schools have been introducing the DT&HM content into their local school or kura curriculum. In Rolleston, south of Christchurch, new primary and secondary schools were able to design their new facilities with digital technologies learning in mind.

“When developing our [local] curriculum, we have always had a digital thread. We want our children to be creators of technology and when we were making choices about our school’s vision, we thought about the kinds of tools we needed and how to use our space to help our children become 21st century learners,” says Sylvia Fidow, principal of West Rolleston Primary School.

Students have time allocated each week to devote to their passion projects. Along with digital technology, may learn the technical skills required to achieve their goals such as learning how to weld and use CAD (computer-aided design) or learn first aid through an online course.

Rolleston College aims to build confidence in using digital technologies in its teachers and students, says Bronwyn Hoy, lead teacher for the digital technology and social science programme. Students are also taught a series of critical skills including problem solving, creativity and resilience.

It’s a similar story at Newlands Intermediate in Wellington. “This isn’t about devices – it’s about mindset, being open to learning and being able to find good creative pathways where the kids are at the centre of what we do,” says principal Angela Lowe. 

Character and capability important for future

Kaye Maree Dunn, a Wellington-based tech leader and the co-founder of Āhau, a genealogy and community development platform start-up, asserts that we should focus on the core skills of character to equip young people for all of the [technology] specialised skill bases.

“It’s the core skills of character that are important moving forward into the future: Are you a good person? Can you communicate? Do you know how to be vulnerable? Do you know how to collaborate effectively with others? Can you be a good leader, but can you also be a good follower? 

“If we keep building technical skills but focus mostly on building one’s character – no matter what the future brings – you should be able to step into these new environments without getting left behind.” 

Matt Richards is an accredited facilitator for professional learning and development for the new DT&HM curriculum content and works with schools around Aotearoa to help them develop in digital capability, learner agency and new technology. 

“As a species we are facing some big challenges at the moment and we need to be able to communicate, collaborate, innovate and look at new solutions to problems.

“Digital technologies are really needed. It’s not so much about the tools, but about the amazing development in key competencies that can occur by trying out some of these new ways of learning and working,” he says.

DT&HM content in brief

DT&HM learning has been repositioned in the national curriculum to focus on students and ākonga building skills to become innovative creators of digital solutions, moving beyond solely being users and consumers of digital technologies. 

Schools and kura are expected to be teaching the revised Technology Learning Area or Hangarau Wāhanga Ako as part of their local curriculum or mārau ā-kura by the start of the 2020 school year. The change applies to all students from Years 1– 10, and 11–13 if they choose to specialise in this area of learning.

With its focus on design thinking, technology education supports students to be innovative, reflective and critical in designing new models, products, software, systems and tools to benefit people, while taking account of their impact on cultural, ethical, environmental and economic conditions. Hangarau design involves critiquing past, existing and possible future technologies, while considering their environmental, social and cultural impact.

The new curriculum content includes core programming concepts, computational thinking where students learn about the computer science principles which underlie digital technology, and learning how to design quality, fit-for-purpose digital solutions for Aotearoa and as citizens of the world. 

New learning in the revised Hangarau Wāhanga Ako will help to pave the way for our young people to flourish in the digital future in Te Ao Māori.

The aim is for students to develop broad technological knowledge, practices and dispositions that will equip them to participate in Aotearoa society as informed citizens and provide a platform for diverse careers moving forward into the future. 

Information and inspiration 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 2:35 pm, 3 February 2020

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