No matter your line of work, knowing how to use technology is essential. Whether this means having a whole set of skills related to IT or just understanding how your spreadsheet data is protected and processed, it’s now a necessary part of life. As such, it has become imperative that schools reform their curriculums to properly prepare students for the world ahead of them.
In Queensland, some of the preparation comes in the form of the Digital Solutions subject. However, as a teacher, finding the best way to teach Digital Solutions is no simple matter. Through this article, though, we’re going to explore some of the best resources available to teach Digital Solutions and help you get a jumpstart on your curriculum planning.
Let’s dive in!
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What is the Digital Solutions subject?
Before we dive in further, we do want to stop for a moment to just summarise what Digital Solutions is.
Digital Solutions is a technology-based subject incorporated as part of the wider Queensland curriculum. The subject is particularly aimed at high-school students and seeks to instil future-proof problem-solving skills. In order to achieve this, the subject takes a big focus on coding and data and shows students how to create “digital solutions” to solve particular problems.
The subject is generally divided into four units that focuses on the following topics:
- Programming foundations and creating programs
- Database purpose, setup, and management
- Constructing practical solutions for real-world problems
- Protecting data based on laws and cybersecurity
Through these efforts, the goal of the subject is to both teach students how to understand/break down problems they might face in the future, but also use the tools technology provides to address them in novel, practical ways.
Digital Solutions Syllabus
While this might seem obvious, one of your best resources for teaching Digital Solutions is actually the syllabus provided by the Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority. Not only is this resource specifically designed for the subject, but is one that is absolutely tailored to the requirements that the Queensland government has laid out.
The provided syllabus is very robust, including several different sections that will be useful for first-time teachers and experienced teachers. The syllabus opens up explaining what Digital Solutions is and setting up a common ground about the rationale behind why the subject was created. It further goes on to summarise how the Digital Solutions syllabus was structured, the overall goals, and how these skills relate to the modern world in terms of preparing kids for the future (among other things).
Most useful, however, is that the syllabus provides a thorough breakdown of the four units covered in the subject. This includes tons of information about which each unit covers, that unit’s particular goals (including just about everything a student should have learned in the unit), and useful resources for creating assessment tasks.
Even beyond the syllabus, the Overview page on the site provides many other resources, such as literature on some of the technological jargon, sample assessments, and more.
Thus, regardless of other resources you use, this primary resource is in itself a great authority in helping you determine the path forward. It will ensure you’re creating a compliant lesson plan, and help you evaluate supplemental resources you may want to use. As such, it is definitely one of the best resources available.
Digital Solutions Teachers
Another great resource that you might already be used to using is other teachers. Other teachers can not only have recommendations for resources you can use, but be able to share their personal experiences and materials to help you reach your own goals.
Since Digital Solutions has been around for a bit, there are plenty of teachers out there already with experience in teaching it. The easiest way to find those for Digital Solutions, though, is the Teachers of Digital Solutions QLD Facebook group. With almost 700 members at the time of writing this article, this resource will put you in quick contact with relevant colleagues. With frequent posts and discussion areas, it’s a fantastic resource for networking and finding mentor teachers who can help you through with teaching the curriculum.
In addition, the group has its own Schoology site – a learning management system that provides a ton of useful tools for teaching any sort of subject.
All in all, don’t be afraid to join the group, as it is sure to help you collaborate over the years to improve each class you teach.
Made for teachers at a high school level, Zenva Schools is a fantastic platform offering free and paid coding courses for use in the classroom.
The courses themselves, which are all made by industry professionals, cover a wide range of coding topics. This includes SQL databases, web development, game development, and more. Equally, many of the provided courses take a project-based approach, meaning students will get to build a professional portfolio at the same time they learn the Digital Solutions relevant skills.
The courses themselves can be used in a variety of ways. Each course comes with video lessons with step-by-step instructions on each coding topic or project step. To supplement this, the lessons also provide a written version to tailor to different learning styles. In between lessons, many of the courses also offer live coding and quiz exercises to help test student knowledge along the way. Lastly, it is worth noting Zenva Schools also provides the source code so students and teachers can easily cross-compare the code to debug any issues.
Beyond this, though, where Zenva Schools truly shines is with the features it offers specifically for teachers. Teachers receive a lot of control over how their classrooms are run, including which courses are included in each classroom. Teachers are also given the ability to easily track student progress on an individual level, so the students that need extra help can get it. To boot, Zenva Schools also provides pre-made plans that are already mapped to the Australian curriculum, saving you time even in that regard.
Altogether, this makes Zenva Schools an amazing resource for teaching Digital Solutions. Not only does it fit amazingly well in with the subject’s goal, but offers powerful features that make integrating it into the classroom as easy as possible.
Code.org is a nonprofit with a dedicated mission of expanding computer science education throughout schools. While it is based in America, the organisation has achieved a worldwide reach and has already been used by over 2 million teachers across the globe. It also has allowed teachers to expand education for marginalised groups and females who have historically been underrepresented in computer science fields.
Worldwide, Code.org’s main driving force is its large collection of free resources. For students, there are a variety of computer science lessons and information suitable for all grades – ranging from creating simple algorithms to providing older students with important career resources. There is also a projects area where students can not only make various computer science-oriented projects in their browser, but share them with others.
For teachers, there are also a ton of resources for professional development, courses that can be used in the classroom, and similar – all, of course, suitable for teaching computer science. We also can’t ignore Code.org’s contributions by starting the Hour of Code movement. As the name implies, this initiative is all about teaching students to code in one hour, usually with very simple projects. Hour of Code events have been hosted globally, both in and out of schools, and achieved much in terms of computer science education.
Overall, though, if you’re looking for preexisting resources to help teach coding and computer aspects related to Digital Solutions, Code.org is a great option. The resources provided are not only numerous, but robust enough to suit any age group. Thus, they’re easy resources to find and tailor to your specific classroom needs.
Another nonprofit organisation actually based out of America, Khan Academy is a popular resource centred around providing free educational material to everyone. It covers just about every subject possible: mathematics, English literature, and, yes, computer science. Like Code.org, Khan Academy also makes sure its resources are able to meet the needs of many different age groups, including high school level students.
Khan Academy, as a platform, was made to integrate into classrooms as smoothly as possible. For example, it includes tools for teachers to track student progress, giving you the chance to help students before they fall behind. Of course, students – and this time parents – aren’t left out either. Content is delivered in a variety of formats – including text and video – making the resources suitable for many different learning styles. With many other features, it’s easy to use in and out of the classroom, since it only requires an internet connection to access.
It is also worth mentioning that Khan Academy’s computer science content offers many aspects that directly align with the Digital Solutions goals. This includes covering topics such as how data is managed, how cybersecurity works, and so forth. Thus, you can be assured that some of the rarer topics beyond coding aren’t neglected either.
Thus, regardless of where it’s based, Khan Academy is another great resource for Digital Solutions. It provides easy ways you can use it directly in the classroom – meaning you don’t have to come up with all the teaching materials yourself. Not only will this save you a lot of time, but allow you to use programs that have been tested by thousands of schools worldwide.
Whether you’re teaching Digital Solutions, as is our topic of discussion, or something else, Scootle is a great free resource to check out. Rather than being a resource unto itself like some of our previous examples, Scootle is instead a searchable collection of links to various third-party resources – all of which are tailored specifically to the Australian curriculum.
The resources vary in scope. Some are simply pre-made lesson plans that will save you a ton of time in designing your Digital Solutions curriculum. Others consist of actual project descriptions and tools to let students take a more project-based focus in their learning. When it comes to technology, there are also different subjects covered – from programming to sustainable building.
As a platform, Scootle also makes it very easy to filter your searches per your needs. For example, one search filter is by grade, making it easy to find age-appropriate material. Another search filter also lets you filter material for specific types, such as online resources, text resources, etc.
To summarise, though, Scootle is a fantastic hub that makes it amazingly easy to find suitable resources for your Digital Solutions classroom. Not only can you find units suitable to what you specifically want to cover, but you can be confident everything will be compliant with curriculum learning goals (meaning less work for you to remap things).
Nelson Digital Solutions Book
Up until now, we’ve focused a lot more on resources that are mostly free to use. However, if you’re willing to spend a bit of money, another great Digital Solutions resource is the Nelson Digital Solutions book.
Crafted by expert technology teachers based in Queensland, this book, as the name implies, is specifically tailored for the Digital Solutions subject. This means no guesswork on whether it can be made to fit the teaching goals of Digital Solutions. The book is even broken down with the four specific units covered in Digital Solutions in mind. Thus, it flows exactly as the subject is intended to be taught.
This book is also amazing comprehensive. It explains all the technical concepts like algorithms, cybersecurity, and so forth in terms students can understand. It includes useful diagrams and images that help with things such as breaking problems down. It even has little challenge sections for students that prompt them to test their knowledge.
Beyond this, teachers who happen to use the book as a core resource in the classroom also get access to NelsonNet. Via NelsonNet, teachers get many bonus resources, such as pre-mapped syllabi, sample assessments, PDFs of the book chapters, and more.
Thus, while not the cheapest option on this list, it is one of the resources most tailored specifically for teaching Digital Solutions. As such, if you have an ample budget, but not ample time, this is definitely an option to consider.
While there are certainly more resources out there – the internet is a big place – we feel these are the most suited for providing a quality Digital Solutions education. They are, by no means, a replacement for the skill, planning, and legwork teachers will need to do. Each school will have its own quirks, after all, and you’ll need to find something that suits both your students and your personal teaching style.
That being said, we do hope this list helps create a much easier path going forward, so we do encourage you to experiment with these tools and resources. Digital Solutions is definitely a new frontier, but one that is very important for our planet’s future. So we wish you the best of luck in helping to shape students’ minds with new technology skills.
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