Prime Minister Bill English talks to students at Newmarket Primary School (Rosie Gordon)

The Education Minister has just made the announcement in Auckland, calling the changes ground-breaking.

Nikki Kaye says they’re putting $40 million – $24 million of which is new money – into upskilling teachers and helping them create digitally-oriented classrooms.

She said young people today need to build their digital skills and fluency, to prepare them for this technological world.

Ms Kaye said the new curriculum will be in schools from 2018 – and mandated by 2020.

“It involves not only enabling young people to be able to use new technologies, but also be the creators of new technologies in the future, so it will include a part around computational thinking.”

All young people, from years one to 10, will take part in digital technologies learning.

“Students [in Years 11 to 13] choosing digital technologies pathways for NCEA will develop the more specialised skills that industry partners say are in high demand, through new achievement standards being developed for NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3,” Ms Kaye said.

The changes, signalled last year by former Education Minister Hekia Parata, expand the existing technology subject and are the first changes to the NZ curriculum since 2007.

Today’s detailed proposal for two new subject areas is open for consultation until the end of August. Schools will be able to use the new content from next January and the new curriculum will come into full use from the start of 2020.

Kaye said Computational Thinking “is about understanding the computer science principles that underlie all digital technologies, and learning how to develop instructions, such as programming, to control these technologies”.

“Robotics, artificial intelligence and advances in connectivity are all revolutionising our world, including our businesses, industry and community.

“From New Zealand’s work in movie-making to Rocket Lab launching rockets into outer space, world-class technology is playing a major role.

“The new curriculum content is about ensuring that students across all year levels have access to rich learning aimed at building their digital skills and fluency, to prepare them for this world.”

Kaye said the $40 million support package would include $24 million to “upskill” more than 40,000 teachers.

Another $7 million will be spent on developing online learning and exams, video and audio streaming content and apps.

The Government will put $6 million into a “Digital Technology for All Equity Fund” to support in-school and out-of-school learning opportunities for up to 12,500 students each year, with a focus on ensuring access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

About $1.2 million will go towards a “national digital championship”, with potential contributions from industry partners, “aimed at exciting students to use digital technologies to come up with innovative ways to solve community, social or environmental challenges”.

“For the digital championship, we will look at models adopted by other countries, including Israel,” Kaye said.

There will also be around $330,000 in $1000 scholarships from the Ministry of Youth Development, to support young people to develop innovative enterprises, including products or businesses, that have a digital focus.

Kaye said it was “important to understand how digital technologies are impacting society and our education system”.

Dr David Parsons of the Mindlab by Unitec said “computational thinking” could be taught in ways appropriate for each age group.

“Lots of kids are using programming languages like Scratch, which is quite visual and is very popular in primary schools,” he said.

“[Older] kids who are wanting to become software engineers will have to continue with programming languages like Python and Java Script.”

He said using a national championship to apply digital technologies to real-world social and economic problems was also “an excellent idea”.

“A lot of the thinking is that if you are going to teach kids this kind of stuff, it needs to be about real-world problem solving,” he said.

Source: Newstalk ZB


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