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Consultation on new digital technologies content for the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, the Māori-medium Curriculum, was launched today by Education Minister Nikki Kaye.

“We’re breaking new ground with a curriculum that offers unique Māori content, learning that can be shaped according to students’ individual needs, and future-proofing so it can adapt to new technology as it arises,” says Ms Kaye.

Ms Kaye introduced the draft content for Digital Technologies | Hangarau Matihiko in the National Curriculum during a visit to Newmarket Primary School in Auckland this morning with Prime Minister Bill English.

“At the same time, I announced a new $40 million investment package that will upskill teachers to deliver the new curriculum, shift our education system to a more digitally-oriented environment, and provide more opportunities for young people to learn about digital technologies,” says Ms Kaye.

“A big advantage of a digital education environment is that sensible use of automation, along with reduced bureaucracy, can help reduce teachers’ workload and let them focus on what’s important, teaching and learning.

“We live in exciting times, with digital technologies advancing at an incredible rate and playing an ever increasing role in all aspects of our lives,” says Ms Kaye.

“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.

“Digital technology is amongst New Zealand’s fastest growing export sectors, but an understanding of digital technologies is no longer just a pre-requisite for IT professionals.

“An Australian report indicates that around 40 per cent of current jobs are considered at high risk of automation over the next 10 to 15 years, and this trend could be expected to apply to similar developed countries such as New Zealand. This means tomorrow’s business leaders, scientists, engineers, farmers, urban planners, health professionals and even artists will all benefit from knowledge and skills relating to software development, digital media content and technology design.

“Our curriculum needs to keep pace with this fast-changing world. The new curriculum content sets out what students need to learn to become not just fluent users but also skilled creators of digital innovations and inventions. It will also deliver digital technologies through Māori values, knowledge and education with its integration into Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

“Building digital fluency is already a focus of our education system, supported by the Government’s $700 million investment in digital infrastructure such as cabling and wireless technology in schools, as well as the N4L Managed Network, which provides schools with Crown-funded, uncapped, high-speed broadband for learning.

“The new curriculum content is about building on this platform and taking the next step towards our vision of New Zealand as a world leader in digital education.

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

The new content covers two key areas, ‘computational thinking’ and ‘designing and developing digital outcomes’, and has been designed to be flexible, so it can respond to new developments and technologies as they emerge.

“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,” says Ms Kaye.

“Designing and developing digital outcomes is about understanding that digital systems and applications are created for humans by humans, and developing knowledge and skills in using different digital technologies to create digital content across a range of digital media. This part of the curriculum also includes learning about the electronic components and techniques used to design digital devices.

“I’m mindful that while many recognise the importance of digital technologies in education, there will be legitimate concerns about the amount of time students spend online,” says Ms Kaye.

“Many of the skills and competencies involved in digital learning, especially at primary school level, can be practised in a range of contexts. This means acquiring the skills and knowledge to be a successful creator and consumer of digital technologies needn’t mean that students will necessarily spend more time learning online.

“I’d like to reassure families that the safety and wellbeing of students will be an important focus for schools delivering digitally-based learning.

“I recently welcomed the release of updated health guidelines around young people and screen time, and the Government is working to combat issues such as cyber-bullying.

“I recognise it’s important to understand how digital technologies are impacting society and our education system. I’ve asked the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman, and the Education Science Advisor Professor Stuart McNaughton, to undertake work to ensure we continue to fully understand this impact, including how digital technologies may affect young people’s writing and communication skills.

“Through the consultation process, families, educators, business and industry will all be able to help the Ministry of Education shape the final content of the curriculum.

“We want everyone to have their say and help us prepare this generation of children and young people for the future.

“Following consultation, the Ministry will work with the business and education sectors to ensure the new content is effectively integrated into existing learning programmes and can be taught locally, including through Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako.”

Initial consultation runs until the end of August. The new content is expected to be available for use from January 2018, with a transition period of two years and the new curriculum in full use from the start of 2020.

“This is an exciting development for education and our nation, and I encourage everyone to take part in the consultation and share their views about how we make this crucial transition to the future.”

View draft content at https://education.govt.nz/digital-technology-consultation

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