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Digital Technologies in focus (DTiF) newsletter, April 2018

Welcome to the April issue of the DTiF newsletter. I’m pleased to announce that we now have 156 schools confirmed in the DTiF project.

The curriculum officers have been busy visiting many of you in Term 1 and will continue their travels in Term 2. They have also been developing professional learning workshops, which will be available as full-day workshops or as modules for face-to-face presentations or online. More details will be released later this month.

The next progress report webinars will take place in June–July 2018. Your curriculum officer will be in touch to organise a time. We will also be setting up online project focus cluster discussions so that schools with similar interests can meet each other and explore common issues.

Feel free to provide your feedback on the newsletter and/or topic suggestions through your local curriculum officer, or via email [email protected] 

Best wishes,

Julie King,
Project Lead, Digital Technologies in focus

Our final workshop for 2017 in Darwin










In this issue:



 Our professional learning cosystem


Project focus clusters

Late last year the curriculum officers met in Sydney to plan activities for 2018. One of the activities was identifying the project focus clusters. You will recall the professional learning ecosystem diagram indicated that your school is a member of a geo cluster and a project focus cluster. The project focus clusters in priority order include:

  • implementing Digital Technologies in Years 7 and 8
  • very small schools and multi-age classrooms
  • linking Digital Technologies to other learning areas 
  • integrated STEM approaches
  • Digital Technologies and Literacy and Numeracy
  • Digital Technologies and Personal and Social Capability
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives
  • teacher capability
  • pedagogy and project-based learning
  • feeder primary school partnerships
  • computational thinking
  • customising digital technologies for context.

During Terms 2 and 3, curriculum officers will be scheduling project focus cluster discussions. Details will be emailed to you.


Safer Internet Day 2018

Kim Vernon, NSW Curriculum Officer, attended the 2018 Safer Internet Day (SID) on 6 February in Canberra. SID is an annual worldwide event. The eSafety Commissioner is responsible for driving the initiative nationally.

Take the ClassAct 50 challenge with your students.

For more information and resources, visit the eSafety website.

Digital Technologies WA roadshow

By Deanne Poole, Curriculum Officer

In January 2018, ACARA ran a series of workshops to support some of the schools in the project in the mid-west of Western Australia (WA). Curriculum Officer, Dee Poole, shares a summary of her trip.

The first event organised by Morawa District High School was held at the WA College of Agriculture. Six schools, part of the mid-west network, attended to support their professional learning for the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and to engage with their existing network of schools.

WA College of Agriculture Residential Campus Morawa – Google maps







Morawa District High School is focusing on reducing the digital divide for both their students and teachers by implementing specific digital pedagogies. Their aim is to increase teachers’ confidence and skills in delivering the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies in order to spearhead improvements in the students’ educational outcomes and engagement. Morawa DHS Principal, Tracy Tapscott, is supported by a group of teachers who are eager to learn and implement Digital Technologies – in particular, Rosemary Bond and Tammy Solomon, who are working hard to create supporting frameworks for the staff including the development of whole-school scope and sequence documents.

Rosemary says, “The combined staff of Morawa District High School and Western Australian College of Agriculture Morawa gained useful and practical ideas to help integrate Digital Technologies into [our] school teaching programs during the Digital Technologies in focus presentation on the first day back at school in 2018. The content delivered, and ongoing constructive feedback, has been a great support in the development of the Morawa District High School Digital Technologies scope and sequence.”

The second Digital Technologies in focus event was hosted by St Mary’s in Northampton. The school staff were excited to invite all the local and regional schools in their area to this event, and five schools attended from both the Catholic Education and Department of Education sectors. It was the first time that these schools connected for this type of event and it soon became evident that there were huge benefits in this kind of networking, not just for Digital Technologies but also assessment moderation, sharing of resources and planning development in other learning areas.

Attendees at the St Mary’s School Northampton Workshop January 2018

St Mary’s Northampton is focusing on increasing the digital technologies knowledge of staff to enable the curriculum to be integrated across all learning areas on a daily basis. The Principal, Melissa Marquis, has already begun running some professional learning supported by teacher Laura Kennedy.

Melissa shared with me that the school is very excited about the start to their Digital Technologies journey for 2018. She said:

“The Professional Learning [you] conducted in January has provided us with a springboard of ideas, resources, curriculum knowledge and conversation to build staff confidence and capacity in implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum. Through the resources that [you] shared, we are facilitating a range of plugged and unplugged teaching and learning experiences for the students. For many of the staff, it is a journey into a new learning area and we are learning with and from each other and from the students. We are looking forward to continued growth and capacity as the year progresses.”

The school is also planning to begin increasing the use of digital terminology by students and teachers and will be implementing a digital word of the week.

St Mary’s has invested in some digital technologies resources to support teacher’s lessons, and in follow-up visits, we plan for each school in this newly formed network to bring along their resources to share ideas and teaching strategies. Their goal is to not have ‘storerooms of expensive equipment gathering dust’.

To finish this trip, I was fortunate to visit Central Regional TAFE in Geraldton, and more specifically, the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute (BCMI) campus to see a world-class example of industry research and training in the Mid-West.

Clown Fish (Orange Ocellaris) bred at BCMIThe BCMI campus is a state-of-the-art training, research and development facility located on the oceanfront of Separation Point, Geraldton. The institute offers a wide range of aquaculture programs focusing on the production of marine ornamentals, popular food fish and pearl oysters. There is a maritime simulator room where students work with a simulator, also adding their own coding to create alternative simulations. The campus has advanced aquaculture equipment and filtration systems, which are used to breed a variety of ornamental fish species including the very popular ‘Nemo’ clown fish. At the BCMI, students from all over Australia and the world learn and engage in hands-on aquaculture courses and research projects.

The Digital Technologies curriculum is a great start for students who want to pursue some of the courses offered at BCMI, including aquaculture, marine research, conservation, natural resource management or food for the future. The skills learnt are all vital stepping stones to prepare students for the expectations of these courses. 

If you require further information on any of the topics discussed in this article, please contact ACARA’s DTiF Curriculum Officer, Deanne Poole, [email protected]


ICT and Digital Technologies – are they different?

By Martin Levins, Curriculum Officer

Information and communications technology (ICT) is great. I love the idea that I can create images, draw, make movies and music – which I could not do without digital assistance. I love that I can take measurements of my income and expenses, or perhaps plot the success of my students in achieving their goals as charts or graphs, which are easier to understand at a glance.

I’m constantly amazed by the fact that I can reach out virtually immediately to family, friends and communities using social media, messaging, email, and, yes, sometimes, even voice.

That’s why I love ICT.

ICT Capability is one of the seven general capabilities within the Australian Curriculum and is recognised as essential to all disciplines. It's hard to find any workplace or field of thought where a computer doesn't figure. Indeed, it's hard to imagine our daily lives without ICT.

ICT can contribute to the solution to a problem – by using video or presentation software to communicate emotions, ideas and concepts, by using a word or ideas processor to outline ideas so that a perfect essay can be constructed, by using spreadsheets to show trends in data or by simulating ‘what-ifs’ so I can work out if I can afford a holiday.

However, as useful as it is, ICT can’t directly provide digital solutions.

Students can become data scientists, sustainability champions and agronomistsHence the need for a new subject: the Digital Technologies curriculum, which helps make visible the actions of ICT: How does that thing work? How can I wrangle a solution? How does my world work?

In my view, this last question is the key to the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. I don't want to be a passive plaything of social media algorithms, a victim of “Your call is important to us, press 1 for…” systems that don’t give you what you want. I don’t want to be a hapless, passive wanderer in our digital world.

Digital Technologies gives me the hands-on experience in understanding how my world works and how I can control aspects of it.

It also empowers me. I can make things happen, I can get some appreciation of how my phone works, and I have another way of thinking through problems.

Seeing children developing a game in Scratch, and having to understand the mathematics of coordinate geometry, of variables, of logic, and to do so in context, is a powerful thing.

Similarly, when a class applies design thinking to the running of their kitchen garden and decides that automation is the solution to water management, Digital Technologies comes to the fore.

Having Years 5 and 6 students design soil moisture sensors and then program an inexpensive device to respond to low water by flashing a light or turning on a pump is well within their abilities and the scope of the Digital Technologies curriculum.

Years 5 and 6 students can now become data scientists, sustainability champions and agronomists as they provide solutions for their younger schoolmates who are tending the garden.

How empowering is that?

That’s why I love Digital Technologies.

We’d love to hear your thoughts: email us at [email protected]



Visual programming languages use visual graphics elements without the need for text- based code. The user moves interlocking blocks of code. A popular example is Scratch, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It can be used to create interactive stories, games and animations. Another example is Blockly.



The Australian Curriculum website has illustrations of practice to support implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority, offering rich contexts and ways for embedding the priority in and across the learning areas of the Australian Curriculum for F–10.

Maitland Lutheran School is an independent, co-educational primary and middle school, located in the farming district of Maitland, Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, on the traditional lands of the Narungga People. This illustration of practice shows how teachers embed the local Narungga language into the Digital Technologies subject in Years 3 and 4 (with some Year 1), through the guidance of a fluent Narungga speaker and the use of a humanoid robot.

The school participated in the three-year Humanoid Robot Research Project. This was a collaboration between the Association of Independent Schools, South Australia, and universities from around Australia.

See the illustrations of practice on the Australian Curriculum website.



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