Welcome to the first edition of the Digital Technologies in focus (DTiF) newsletter. This newsletter will be published each school term, bringing you the latest information about ACARA’s NISA-funded DTiF project.
I hope you find this newsletter useful. Feel free to provide your feedback or topic suggestions through your local Curriculum Officer, or via email at [email protected]
Project Lead, Digital Technologies in focus
In this newsletter:
150 schools and counting!
The number of schools participating in the DTiF project has reached 150 – we’re almost at our 160 schools target!
By the end of November, the DTiF introductory workshops had been rolled out across Australia – from the first workshop in Hobart, to the last one in the Top End. Julie King, DTiF Project Lead, has travelled around the country delivering the introductory workshops with each of the local Curriculum Officers.
Workshops were held in Hobart, Charleville, Toowoomba, Burnie, Townsville, Port Lincoln, Kalgoorlie, Perth, Geraldton, Mooroopna, Ballarat, Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Cairns, Newcastle, Parramatta, Armidale, Gunnedah, Parkes, Dubbo, Albury, Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin.
The workshops have involved more than 260 principals and teachers, and have been supported by jurisdiction officers, professional associations, universities, industry, and organisations such as CSIRO. All schools should be on board by the end of the year and ready to start implementing their project proposals.
Meet the DTiF team
Meet the DTiF team: (From L–R): Martin Levins, Beth Claydon, Peter Lelong, Shane Byrne, Deeane Poole, Simon Collier, Steve Grant, Kim Vernon, Julie King, Pam Furney and Sarah Hobson
From July 2017, ACARA welcomed an enthusiastic group of Curriculum Officers to join the DTiF project. These digital technology experts will support local clusters around the country in implementing the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. Each Monday morning, they meet via videoconference to plan and share ideas.
Read their bios
- Shane Byrne
- Beth Claydon
- Simon Collier
- Steve Grant
- Sarah Hobson
- Martin Levins
- Peter Lelong
- Deanne Poole
- Kim Vernon
DTiF Community and Wiki
As discussed in the introductory workshops, we have developed an online professional learning community – the DTiF Community - to share and discuss ideas. Shortly your Curriculum Officer will invite you to join the discussions on various topics, ask question, and share resources and knowledge. To find more information, visit the DTiF Wiki
or the Digital Technologies Hub.
DTiF: Schools in action
Going for a hole in one on King Island
By Peter Lelong
King Island, with a population of under 2,000, is a remarkable island in the midst of Bass Strait, famous for its agricultural products, particularly cheese and beef. The island, though, is often not thought of as an aspiring hub for technological innovation.
Students and teachers at the King Island District High School are commencing their journey to build knowledge and skills in the use of a range of digital technologies.
With the leadership of Principal, Ben Murfet, and Assistant Principal, Phil Holbrook, the staff recently joined the Digital Technologies in focus project and registered in the Computer Science Education Research Group, University of Adelaide (CSER) Digital Technologies Massively Open Online Course (MOOC).
The school, based in Currie with a population of nearly 190 F–10 students, is looking to build a program that develops innovation and creativity in the use of digital technologies.
The King Island project focuses on providing options and opportunities for students to stay on the island after school, to contribute to the community and to further the already flourishing local industries. The aim is to provide students with an awareness that the technologies they learn to use in school may be applied on a farm, in a tourism context or a golf links development.
To facilitate an understanding of the importance of digital literacy at King Island, students and their teachers have designed a golf hole at the school. Using drones, 3D printers and Lego robotics, the students are simulating how to design and project-manage an innovative solution. For example, a drone was used to provide an aerial image of the geographical landform, which assisted in choosing the most appropriate site for a golf hole.
The students have also been experimenting with different designs for digging blades to be printed on a 3D printer and tested in the school’s robotics room, using Lego EV3 robotics. Another challenge for the students might be to imagine and prototype a driverless mower using robotics and coding.
The school has plans to keep engaging with local farming and fishing communities to show the students how important digital technologies are across many areas of the island life.
Principal, Ben Murfet, has a clear vision on how he wants to build his school community:
“From the day I arrived on King Island, I have been looking to provide authentic learning opportunities that enable students to succeed in their chosen career path, whether that be on King Island or anywhere in the world. I want our students to achieve a balanced education, where we value outdoor play and love real experiences at the beach or in the backyard playing cricket. At the same time, I want our students to be aware of the essential skills required in the 21st century and be well-equipped to succeed in a fast-paced digital world. I want our students to be equally skilled in verbal communication, in catching a fish, in producing sophisticated code to create an entrepreneurial adventure.
“There is a clear desire to implement the Digital Technologies curriculum over the next three years across all year levels and I look forward to working with the schools in the Tasmanian clusters of north-west Tasmania and Hobart,” said Mr Murfet.
If you require further information on any of the topics discussed in this article, please contact ACARA DTif Curriculum Officer, Peter Lelong: [email protected]
On the road to Cherbourg and Murgon
By Sarah Hobson
Year 4 students from Cherbourg State School are taking the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge
In June 2017, schools in the Barambah area of south-west Queensland participated in one of the first introductory workshops for the Digital Technologies in focus project. After the workshop, the schools began work on their project proposals. Their project ideas were shared via the progress report webinar and plans were made to visit the schools to learn more about them. Getting to know the school situation, the school executive and teachers involved in the project was an important first step in supporting staff as they plan the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies.
Cherbourg State School
The visit to Cherbourg State School was warm and friendly, and both students and staff were very welcoming. Vanessa Boal, Head of Curriculum, introduced me to some of the unique programs running at the school, including an on-site kindergarten and a cultural knowledge centre for students to learn the Indigenous languages, Wakka Wakka and Kubi Kubi (also known as Gubbi Gubbi).
With the support of local language speakers, cultural teacher Marilyn Huddleston works with Year 6 students to help them learn a language. She explained how the Miromaa computer program was used to capture words and phrases both from texts and audio recordings of elders.
Nicole Greenwood and Rechelle Marshall, members of the school’s DTiF project team, are doing amazing work with their students in Years 2, 3 and 4. I worked with the teachers to assist with student participation in the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge. Vanessa and I assisted the students to interpret the questions so the students could work in teams and solve the problems. It was a challenging but rewarding experience, as the students had not encountered computational thinking challenges before. The data and lessons learnt are being recorded as baseline data and observations for the project.
Learn more about the Bebras Australia Computational Thinking Challenge. The website has information on the twice-yearly challenge and has a section called Bebras365, which contains a series of computational thinking questions for teachers and students to work with.
Murgon State School
I also visited Murgon State School and spent a day with Carmen Godbaz who is leading the project for the school. Carmen shared how she teaches the Digital Technologies curriculum to her students. It was great to see Carmen at work as she taught Year 3 students how to create drum kits using the Scratch programming language. Most of the students had not encountered visual programming before the lesson – and they were excited seeing their projects come together.
Carmen told me about plans for their project. These involved gathering data on local tourism, programming drones to capture local landmarks, and then sharing the information, using augmented reality, with tourists along the newly established South Burnett Rail Trail.
At lunch time, I attended the drone club. It was great to see the joy on students’ faces as they learnt to manoeuvre the drones. Two Year 5/6 students, who are creating robotic solutions repurposing reclaimed pieces from old robotics kits, showed their enthusiasm as they shared their working prototypes.
It is great to see a primary school driving change in their local area and showing leadership through their Digital Technologies activities!
I am planning to visit the Barambah cluster again, to run information sessions on the Digital Technologies curriculum to schools.
If you require further information on any of the topics discussed in this article, please contact ACARA Dtif Curriculum Officer, Sarah Hobson: [email protected]
Have you seen… ACARA’s Curriculum connections resources?
Curriculum connections provide you with ideas about how to make connections across learning areas. There are currently Curriculum connections for: food and fibre production food and wellbeing consumer and financial literacy outdoor learning.
Keep an eye out for new connections in 2018.
Do you know... the difference between virtual and augmented reality?
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that appears to the user wearing special electronic headsets to be real.
Augmented reality superimposes a computer-generated image or information onto a real-world object or view, thus providing a layer of information not apparent in real life.
How we connect
The diagram below shows the relationship between all our resources: the newsletter, DTiF Community, DTiF Wiki and the Digital Technologies Hub.