New Zealand is planning to use bold, offline methods to teach digital technology to children.
It is understanding computer science principles that form the foundation of digital technologies, as well as learning how to develop code and algorithms to control them.
According to Education Minister Nikki Kaye, a proposal for a new digital technology curriculum is aimed at building children’s computer fluency and skills. This would prepare them for jobs in a digital world. The new curriculum will include designing and developing digital outcomes and computational thinking.
Designing and developing digital outcomes relates to the human side of information technology, in that these processes are created by humans for human use. It aims to develop knowledge and associated skills needed to use digital technologies in creating content over different digital media. It includes learning about electronics, electronic components, and techniques to design computers and other IT equipment.
Digital Tech Education for Every Age
These skills would not necessarily require the use of computers for teaching purposes. It can also mean different things to different age groups. The concept of computational thinking starts with learning step-by-step logical instructions. This is an important part of learning algorithms and can be taught like the rest of the curriculum even without using any devices.
Computational thinking is about dissecting a process to small logical steps. These steps are aimed at getting something done or to make something work in a prescribed manner. Older students would move on to creating apps, or instructing robots. It is understanding computer science principles that form the foundation of digital technologies, as well as learning how to develop code and algorithms to control them.
The new curriculum would include the following changes:
- Digital tech will be taught in all year levels. For those students who choose to take the NCEA digital technologies pathway, they would have specialized training required for them to pass the new achievement standards for NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3.
- There would be two new key areas: “computational thinking” and “designing and developing digital outcomes.” The new content will be flexible so that the curriculum can respond rapidly to any new technology developments and advances.
As part of the curriculum, children would also be taught the intelligent use of technology and the ethics associated with its use.
All of this is designed to increase the human capital and productivity of New Zealand citizens, allowing them to boldly compete in the knowledge economy of the future.