The government has made a great first step to introducing digital technology into the New Zealand curricula to cope with the demands of fast-approaching digital future, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.
He supported the Government’s announcement today of an expansion of tech in schools from senior secondary down to Year 1. Education Minister Hekia Parata said at the NZTech Advance Education Technology Summit in Auckland that digital technology is to be integrated into the New Zealand curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
Muller says to thrive in today’s world and in the future, computational thinking has to be a fundamental part of the way people understand the world. Computational thinking is a way of solving problems and designing solutions.
It involves algorithms, abstract models, data analysis, extracting key information and dealing with complex systems. Students learn to tackle problems step by step and learn from their digital mistakes. It is a skill that must be developed from an early age, and one that enables people to leverage computer technology for their advantage, Muller says.
“With the rate of technology advancement, it is almost impossible to comprehend how different our lives will be in the next 10 to 20 years and its vital that we prepare our kids for the future, for jobs that don’t even exist yet. One thing is for certain, computer technology will be pervasive so computational thinking skills are critical for the future success.
“NZTech is excited the Government is adding a digital tech section across all streams of curricula. There is specific investment still coming for resources and teacher capability. The aspirational aim is to have all NZ schools able to offer digital technologies to all students by 2018.
“Having just returned from the world’s largest convention on education and technology it is comforting to know that every country is struggling with how best to mix technology and education. But what they all agree on is the importance of a new style of teaching and the introduction of computational thinking and enquiry based learning models are accepted as the way forward.
“This is a great step forward, but it is only the first step. Now we look forward to hearing how the government plans to invest in supporting teachers and school leaders so they have the skills and resources to prepare the future workforce.
“We believe coding is an essential skill. Since 2014, the principles of computer programming have featured on England’s curriculum for children from the age of five or six, when they start primary school.
“In the US, President Barack Obama launched Computer Science for All in January, an initiative aimed at giving every pupil from kindergarten to high school programming and coding skills “that make them job-ready on day one”. He even took coding lessons himself.
“But it is not just about programming. That is only one of six key components of digital technologies. There is also design thinking, understanding data etc. But as critical is also digital citizenship, the ability to understand privacy, security and how to interface safely with technology.
“If young Kiwis want to lead an organisation in the 21st century, or even just run a project or team, significant computing knowledge will be critical because the world is increasingly being run using digital systems,” Muller says
NZTech is looking forward to working with the Ministry and the schools around New Zealand to help accelerate the introduction of digital technologies teaching throughout our schools.