With the rise in technology throughout our everyday lives, understanding it has become very important. While older generations are a bit on their own in this regard, we can prepare younger generations for their futures by making sure our educational curriculums focus on providing quality technical skills.
Australia has become a leader in this regard by forming the Digital Technologies curriculum – which is incorporated into all grade levels. However, because the curriculum requirements are very robust, deciding how to teach it is no simple matter. In this article, though, we’re going to discuss our top picks for the best resources when it comes to teaching for the Digital Technologies curriculum.
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What is the Digital Technologies curriculum?
For teachers coming into the Digital Technologies curriculum for the first time, we do want to summarise what to expect of the curriculum in order to better understand the resources we picked.
The Digital Technologies curriculum was designed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (ACARA) at the behest of the Australian government. The goals of the curriculum are not just to provide required ICT skills for using technology, but to expand students’ skills to be able to deal with data in various ways (as programming may change forms in the future). It further aims to provide students with the ability to think more systematically in how they approach problems and similar.
Within Digital Technologies, there are 10 core principles that guide how the curriculum was designed:
- Abstraction – How we abstract details from a problem
- Digital Systems – How hardware and software use data to perform things
- Data Representation – How data is different from the symbols we use to represent it
- Data Collection – How we actually collect data
- Data Interpretation – How we read data
- Specification – How we define/understand problems
- Algorithms – How we create instructions to solve problems
- Implementation – How we create digital solutions (i.e. coding)
- Impact – How we manage social ramifications of technology
- Interactions – How we use technology to collaborate
Regardless of the above, the important thing to understand is Digital Technologies was designed to be applicable regardless of how technology changes in the future and give kids the skills they’ll need to better the future and pursue their careers.
Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies Page
Before diving into third-party resources, we’re going to first look at some of our primary resources available. In this case, we’ll start with the Digital Technologies page provided directly by the Australian Curriculum website. Regardless of other resources you may use, we do encourage this to be your first stop.
Via this page, while there are limited classroom resources, what you will get instead is basically all the information you’re going to need to know about the Digital Technologies curriculum itself. For example, you’ll get to understand more about why the curriculum exists, what the goals are, and – most importantly – how the Digital Technologies curriculum is structured. In other words, you’ll learn what we described above about Digital Technologies, just in a lot more detail and in ways that can be utilised for teaching the topics.
Beyond this, the page also lets you expand the base information based on year level. Once expanded, you can dive into further detail about which each age group should be learning and even get easy ways to search Scootle – a repository of educational links tailored to the Australian curriculum. You can also view sample student work to get an additional insight into what these expectations are.
All in all, though, as we mentioned, this should definitely be where you go first. Knowing “what Digital Technologies is” is half the battle in teaching it, so the better you understand the curriculum structure the more apt you’ll be at crafting a suitable course plan.
Digital Technologies Hub
Another more “primary resource” for Digital Technologies is the Digital Technologies Hub. Whereas the page provided above by the Australian Curriculum is comprehensively informational, this resource is when you combine that information with practical tools teachers will need in the classroom.
As the term hub implies, this really is a fantastic homepage for all things Digital Technologies. For teachers, there are countless resources. You can, of course, get further information about the Digital Technologies curriculum itself. This includes not only how things are structured, but also useful information about how the curriculum differs from ICT standards.
However, it’s the additional resources that really boost the hub as a fantastic resource. You can search pre-made lesson plans to save yourself time, information on making the curriculum more inclusive, or even resources on actually rendering assessments. There are also case studies available you can study to see how other teachers have handled Digital Technologies. If none of these suit your fancy, you can even just try out their webinars to help with your own professional development.
It is also worth mentioning that the Digital Technologies Hub also provides various resources for students and parents as well. This includes things like STEM career information, activities, and more – all in the hopes that the concepts taught by you can be further reinforced outside the classroom.
In the end, there is no question about the value of the Digital Technologies Hub. It gives you the best jumping-off point possible with all the information you could want, even if you’ve never taught anything technology-related before. Of course, everything is also pre-tailored to the needs of the Australian curriculum, so it’s also just a great way to save yourself tons of time.
Zenva Schools is a robust platform that hosts pre-made courses related to coding that can be used in high school classrooms. The platform offers both free and paid resources, so it also isn’t going to break your teaching budget.
Each course comes with a variety of materials to suit different learning styles. There are on-demand videos covering each step of the learning process, there are written lesson summaries to help students who do better learning by reading, and each course also provides the course files so students and/or teachers can cross-compare the coding. Lastly, many courses also come with quizzes and live coding lessons, allowing students to practice their knowledge before moving on to other concepts.
For teachers specifically, though, the platform also offers quite a number of features. As the platform is designed to be self-serving, you have complete control over the classes, the courses in the classes, and so forth. Zenva Schools also provides an easy tracking tool for course progression – so you can make sure students are staying on track. Additionally, each course provides plans that are pre-mapped to the Digital Technologies curriculum, saving you tons of time.
In total, though, Zenva Schools is fantastic if you want something that is already tailored to suit many Digital Technologies requirements, while giving you the freedom to use the content in whatever way works best for you as a teacher.
Grok Academy is an Australian-based charity focused on EdTech. In particular, it’s devoted to providing education and resources for teachers in the Digital Technologies curriculum. To make sure these resources are the best possible, everything is composed by experienced Digital Technologies teachers themselves.
Within the site, there are three main categories of resources available. First, if you’re still in need of more information about Digital Technologies and its structure, Grok Academy contains an extensive breakdown of everything about the curriculum. For the classroom, the platform offers many different things such as challenges for students, supplementary materials like posters, assessment tasks, and more.
Where Grok Academy truly shines, though, is its extensive collection of resources focused on teacher professional development. This is especially useful for teachers who have never taught Digital Technologies, as you can find plenty of material explaining the concepts in thorough and robust ways. Further, these resources can also dive into best practices for actually teaching these complicated subjects, making sure you have all the information you need to be the most effective teacher possible.
You might also consider trying out Grok Learning, an online platform developed by Grok Academy to teach coding. This platform provides plenty of Digital Technologies relevant courses in a variety of programming languages that are made by educators to be directly used in the classroom.
Regardless of which of Grok Academy’s platforms you prefer, this resource is particularly suited for teachers who need a bit of a hand teaching Digital Technologies. Whether that means learning concepts yourself or just having time-saving courses for the classroom, it is robust enough to suit your needs.
Teaching Teachers for the Future
In contrast to some other resources on this list, Teaching Teachers for the Future is a platform specifically focused on teacher professional development. Funded by the Australian government itself, this initiative aims to provide teachers with important ICT skills for the classroom regardless of subject – including covering better how to incorporate them into the classroom.
Now, it is important to acknowledge that the Digital Technologies curriculum and required ICT proficiencies for overall Australian education do differ. That being said, there is enough crossover that, in terms of teacher professional development, this is a great starting point. This is especially the case if you’re a newer teacher who has yet to actually teach any sort of technology subjects.
The way Teaching Teachers for the Future achieves its goal is by providing comprehensive packages based on subject expertise. These packages seek to bridge the gap between ICT and a particular subject by showing how technology is interlinked with those topics. In so doing, it helps build stronger connections by leveraging subject knowledge you already have. Pre-service teachers also have a variety of talks they can view that can equally prepare them for ICT in classroom environments.
In terms of Digital Technologies, though, this is still a great resource to try out if you’re new to technology in general. While there is more to learn for Digital Technologies itself, having the necessary ICT skills is the first step in making sure you have the knowledge you’ll need to teach students.
Though based in America, Code.org is an amazing resource that has reached worldwide appeal. This nonprofit organisation is focused on increasing the presence of computer science education in classrooms, which it believes is important for today’s world. While their focus does trend a bit more towards improving the public education system in the USA, where it can help with Digital Technologies is the numerous free classroom resources it provides.
Regardless of age group, Code.org serves as a hub for a variety of computer science-based courses and project ideas. These materials are designed more so with kids in mind, so the project-based approach is intended to be as engaging as possible. Projects range across many disciplines, including game development, mobile development, and web development. Nevertheless, the main goal of these resources remains to teach important computer science concepts to prepare kids for the future.
The site also provides a variety of tools for teachers. For example, Code.org hosts three different programming environments to allow students to code via their own browser. There are also different plans that, while not necessarily suited to Digital Technologies requirements, do help provide insight on how to structure computer science teaching material.
One cannot fail to mention that Code.org also brought us the Hour of Code movement – a self-hosted initiative for hour-long projects to help make computer science less scary to learn. Events have been held around the globe, and continue to help further drive the importance of technology – especially for younger kids.
Though certainly not specifically mapped to Digital Technologies as other resources have been, Code.org just offers tons of great in-classroom resources you can leverage. If you’re willing to put in a bit of legwork with your mapping, it can save you time in crafting materials to use.
If you’re okay with spending a little bit of money and are focused on Level 8 and lower, one resource that may be up your alley is Teach Starter.
Teach Starter is a simple platform that provides educational resources for teaching in the classroom. Conveniently, these resources are not only divided by relevancy to region, but also by curriculum standards. By this, we mean you can directly head straight to the Digital Technologies curriculum materials for Australia without having to sift through hundreds of irrelevant materials to find what will suit your requirements.
Whereas many others on this list provide courses, what makes Teach Starter unique is its focus more so on supplemental materials to aid the educational process. Some of these materials include simple informational (and beautiful) posters, worksheets, game activities, and so forth. For a bit more cash for the Plus Plan, you can also get access to additional resources – including the all-important lesson plans and the ability to customise certain resources.
Overall, this is a great service for teaching Digital Technologies if you like to provide students with all kinds of different materials. Everyone does learn differently, and technology is no different in that regard. As such, Teach Starter can save you lots of time with often overlooked supplemental material and provide you with ideas to make content in the classroom more engaging.
Australian Curriculum Lessons
If what you need is specifically a helping hand with making lesson plans, the Australian Curriculum Lessons site may be the place for you.
Focused once again on Year 8 and lower, the Australian Curriculum Lessons site provides what the name implies: ideas for lessons teachers can implement in their classes. While the plans span multiple fields of disciplines, it does indeed include a specific section for Digital Technologies, making it a relevant resource to check out.
The materials provided range from just flat out lesson plans – saving you time from composing your own syllabus for it – to project ideas suitable for specific grade levels. The site also helpfully includes the codes that relate back to Digital Technologies, giving you the confidence that all the plans created are relevant to teaching the curriculum. Some plans do come with extra resources as well, such as PDFs, slideshows, and so forth to make your life as a teacher easier.
Though probably a smaller resource in terms of size on this list, it is certainly not the least. So, if you need more and more ideas for creating units and lessons suitable for the curriculum standards, make sure to check the site out – at the very least, it can save you some time in the tedious writing of lesson plans.
School & Government Provided Resources
Instead of just one resource here, we’re going to cover several all at once. Digital Technologies has been around quite a while as a curriculum. As such, it’s logical that many schools have collated their own resources related to teaching the subject.
So, as a teacher, one of your best options is to simply check around other Australian school and school-related websites. While the collections of resources aren’t usually as robust, you can almost be assured they are free and already tested in the classroom environment. We can’t cover every site here, but here are some interesting collections that will definitely help as you pursue Digital Technologies:
- Australian Curriculum SA Teachers & Leaders Resource
- The University of Queensland
- Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
- School Curriculum and Standards Authority
- Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority
And this concludes our list of the best resources for teaching Digital Technologies. There are many more resources out there, and sometimes the best resource is other teachers who have been through the same thing. We also don’t think these resources are a replacement for proper planning, as each teacher will need to find their own style of providing the necessary education.
Nevertheless, these resources are sure to get you started, and are certain to help you ease some of the burden. Regardless of the resource you use, it will be a great step into creating a brighter future for our kids.
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