In 2008, I was fortunate to move from full -time Primary School teacher into a full time eLearning Support role. This entailed working with teachers, students and parents to enable everyone to use technology more effectively when teaching, learning and in day to day tasks. There was no Australian Curriculum, but tools like Scratch were new and the potential for learning with these apps was evident.
In 2019, we have an Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies (AC:DT), so we know what we should be doing over a two year period for each band of year levels. For those without a background in technology, some of the content is confusing and foreign, and even those who have a good understanding of the concepts must make sure they are getting it right and can find reliable source material for their courses.
I have four go-to sources for when I am creating courses for F to 8 Digital Technologies. Firstly, The Digital Technologies Hub (digitaltechnologieshub.edu.au/) is an ever-expanding portal to help teachers ‘Unpack the Digital Technologies Curriculum one step at a time.’ Through the Hub you can ‘Find great lesson ideas linked to the curriculum, explore strategies and advice from Australian primary and secondary schools and more.’
The scope encompasses students, teachers, school leaders and families, with webinars and PD opportunities. The Hub is delivered by Education Services Australia and the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.
I like using the Scope and Sequence, which ‘provides a possible set of sequenced topics that could be used in teaching the Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies curriculum to address the content descriptions of the curriculum.’
The units are planned under relevant topics for each band. Starting with an overview and map of the content descriptors and key elements, there is a sequence of four key elements with a summary of the key focus. You can determine what to teach, find supporting resources, advice on assessment and guidance for differentiation. By basing my courses on the elements, I know that I have covered the concepts for that band. I also have scope to add my own content and tools.
The Australian Computing Academy (aca.edu.au/) is promoted as ‘Helping teachers implement the Digital Technologies Curriculum in classrooms around the country.’ The pedigree of the drivers of this site is phenomenal, and it is based in The University of Sydney. The website has recently been revamped and has similar offerings to the DTH, however, there are many differences.
The ACA goes into detail regarding Key Concepts:
- Digital systems
- Data representation
- Data collection
- Data interpretation
There are classroom resources, challenges, workshops, webinars and some amazing competitions.
For me, two things stand out. Firstly, the ‘Unpack the Curriculum’ resource will enable all teachers to ‘Understand the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies’. Check it out at aca.edu.au/curriculum/.
The second highlight leads me to my third source – Grok Learning (groklearning.com/). Grok has a wide variety of online, interactive courses for learning how to code and programme hardware (micro:bit, Ardunio, etc). There is some cross-over with the ACA and Grok personnel, and even though Grok is a paid product, ‘Until the end of 2020, Australian students in Grades 3‑8 can get free access to the Australian Digital Technologies Challenges. These Challenges, developed by the Australian Computing Academy and funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, are specifically designed for the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies.’
This is an offer that every school needs to grab and deploy. There are 19 free courses available courtesy of the ACA for another 2 school years. Our Year 7 cohort undertook the Chatbot Challenge last year. Over 90% decided to do the Python course and the rest did the same course in Blockly. This is great because less capable students can still work through the concept of AI and chatbots. Our teachers were very impressed with the tenacity of the students to finish the course, as well as the 10% who showed themselves to be amazing coders.
Lastly, when looking at assessment, the ‘Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) has developed progression points to support teachers in independent schools with the implementation of version 8 of the Australian Curriculum. This work has been completed with support from officers at the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.’
‘Schools are encouraged to consider how the progression points could be used to:
- diagnose through formative assessment, the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of individual students
- plan teaching programs to meet the needs of individuals and groups of students
- formally assess the progress of individuals and groups of students
- report to parents on the achievements of their children against the Australian curriculum.’
The Progression Points give teachers great descriptors to use in reporting and show descriptions to help teachers assess students as Emerging, Developing, Demonstrating, Advancing or Extending. You can find the F – 10 Progression Points documents at isq.qld.edu.au/our-work-with-schools/progression-points.
I haven’t mentioned the AC:DT as a source in this list. When using these resources, and planning your units, you will always go back and forth to the AC:DT for your due diligence. In order to get students learning about Digitech with vetted resources and assessment tasks, use the four sources I have outlined here to ensure you have a thorough learning journey.
Matthew Jorgensen is a resident of the Gold Coast and is Director of eLearning at St Stephen’s College. In 2016 he was the Microsoft Teacher Ambassador for Queensland and QSITE Emerging Leader. He has a Master’s degree in Education and is currently a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and CoSpacesEdu Ambassador. In 2017, he was the first teacher in Australia (and probably the world) to use Roblox Studio to deliver the Digital Technologies curriculum. He has a long history of using game based learning in the classroom, including Kodu, Scratch, CoSpaces, Minecraft and Roblox. Matthew recently sold his robloxedu.com domain name and associated social media accounts to Roblox. You can connect with Matthew via: