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Can Digital Technologies be fully integrated with the NZ Curriculum?

What aspects of Digital Technologies (DT) can be fully integrated? Will any parts have to be standalone?

As we head towards the integration of DT and the discussions around the DT curriculum it will be important to see implementation within the context and realities of the NZ education system. There is a lot of stress in our teaching service, and this will become another stress point, so the question is how can we lead, motivate and reassure in this area and help our fellow educators embrace DT? The reality in our service is that we have a crowded curriculum (is it the curriculum docs or ourselves and assessment pressure that create this?) and already technology and science are areas that can be left behind (have less teacher capacity) within Inquiry and Integrated Topics - so will DT be any different? What aspects of DT will require some "Rote" or frequent practice (think basic facts in Maths) so that they are mastered, and can this be done adequately within a pupil focused Inquiry or Integrated Topic? Also, for implementation years in DT, what will we need to spend more time on so that pupils/teachers get an adequate PD experience in this area? Do we have to swing the pendulum one way before we can let it settle back? As we plan for integration is it best to plan maths integration of DT as one example, seperate from Social Sciences etc.?

Is it in a simple way "learn to code" so we can "code to learn"? We use a similar thought in reading, I know DT is wider than this, but you get the idea - I hope.

The reality is that not everyone is going to carry the flag for DT. We know that the attitude and support of senior staff will be vital.

We also need to avoid the "course" mentality. Sending some people on courses may help but this does not tend to move a school forward into changing and improving learning without micro-PD moments where teams, teaching buddies support and challenge one another in taking learning risks.

My thoughts for Implementation

  1. Get school leaders -community on board. Find some keen early adopters in your school to help form a team based approach. gather resource, discuss, get some sound pedagogy for what you are doing.
  2. Have a year playing in the sandpit of risk taking. Learn from failure, celebrate having a go but help people to have positive experiences. Some school may involve all staff at this point, others may involve key "innovators" throughout their staff. If possible look for one key person in every school team that you have. Get staff to set simple inquiry goals in your appraisal-inquiry system.
  3. Using the flag bearers, early adopters from the first year to train teams. Have full staff, pupil lead workshops, and team based learning. Focus now on implementing within curriculum, planning for use within existing units or topics planned for the year. Make sure your resource the implementation and have it reflected in school wide and individual focus/inquiry appraisal goals. Buddy systems?
  4. Third year, review impact on learning, attitudes and adjust the programme within your school to suit the reality of your school more closely.

Your feedback on the ramble...

Cheers - Warren


  • JMKellow

    In terms of what can be integrated I would say most of it can be at the primary school level. I'm a big believer in learning in context and so much computational thinking can take place within the context of, for example, a literacy task such as creating a narrative story using Scratch or Tynker. Or students learning about geometry, measurement and position and movement while programming a Sphero or Blubot to travel through a maze. The amount of computational thinking I have seen go into tasks like these is amazing, As teachers we can introduce them to the correct language, talking about them de-bugging for example as they try to work out why their robot went off-course. I think they can learn to code alongside coding to learn.

    As students move on to more advanced types of coding there will need to be some more explicit teaching but I still believe this needs to be in authentic, engaging contexts and programs like Tynker provide nice bridges for students moving from block coding into more advanced languages like Python and Java.

    I have worked with learners as young as five using programs like Scratch jnr and have never spent more than a few minutes "teaching" them how to use it. They do a very good job of working this out for themselves by experimentation and asking each other, with just a little guidance needed when they come across something really tricky.

    The Digital Outcomes strand is even easier to integrate. We need to make our thinking known to students and verbalise why we make decisions around technology choices and giving them the power to make choices for themselves. For example,  with younger students: "I'd like you to use either app A or app B for this task because they are easy to use, you can add photos and video and you'll be able to share them to our class blog.If you know how to use another app that can do the same things and want to use that come and talk to me about it". Or with older students asking them what the app/site/program will need to be able to do so they have some criteria, then letting them choose what to use from a number of apps/sites/programs they are familiar with. All of this is within the context of an existing task, not one specially developed to teach digital technologies.

    There may need to be a little time spent learning about the way networks work for example but most learning will be from "teachable moments" that occur, we just need to keep track so that we know which bits we need to have some explicit teaching on because they haven't been dealt with already. Even so it could be done in the context of an inquiry or debate. "Should we buy laptops, Chromebooks, ipads or desktop computers for our classroom?", "How can we make an educational app that is user-friendly, engaging and teaches x?" "How can we improve the effectiveness of our classroom wireless?" for example.

    I'm very excited about the possibilities of the new curriculum areas and love watching how excited students get about it.

  • Warren Grieve

    Hi Jan-Marie. Great thoughts. I agree with you in the main, especially that most aspects can be integrated. It requires the teacher to have a firm grasp of DT curric to integrate well as you want to see that the pupils are expanding their areas of knowledge, skills and picking up the Digital Citizenship values that are important. 

    I think in some cases that teachers (depending on their own confidence) may need a reasonable amount of assistance to integrate. In other cases taking them and pupils through some less integrated lessons in the first year of "Sandpit" play may be a better choice so that basic literacy and knowledge of DT is built.


  • JMKellow

    I agree that teacher understanding of the curriculum is essential. Some teachers may, for example, choose to use some of the pre-prepared lessons that are available e.g. Hour of Code or Google's C.S. First until they improve their own understanding well enough to be able to integrate the curriculum and use it in authentic contexts.
    My hope is that PLD provided to teachers will help them to both understand the curriculum and understand how they can integrate it.

Digital Technologies: Ideas, implementation, inspiration for the new curriculum.

Digital Technologies: Ideas, implementation, inspiration for the new curriculum.

A group to help us explore the new Digital Technologies curriculum as it unfolds. Join today to share your thoughts, ideas, experiences and resources.