What is technology about? Technology is intervention by design. It uses intellectual & practical resources to create technological outcomes, which expand human possibilities by addressing needs & realising opportunities.
Design is characterised by innovation & adaptation & is at the heart of technological practice. It is informed by critical & creative thinking & specific design processes. Effective & ethical design respects the unique relationship that New Zealanders have with their physical environment & embraces the significance of Māori culture & world views in its practice & innovation. Technology makes enterprising use of knowledge, skills & practices for exploration & communication, some specific to areas within technology & some from other disciplines. These include digitally-aided design, programming, software development, various forms of technological modeling, and visual literacy – the ability to make sense of images and the ability to make images that make sense.
Why study technology? With its focus on design thinking, technology education supports students to be innovative, reflective & critical in designing new models, products, software, systems & tools to benefit people while taking account of their impact on cultural, ethical, environmental & economic conditions. The aim is for students to develop broad technological knowledge, practices & dispositions that will equip them to participate in society as informed citizens & provide a platform for technology-related careers. Students learn that technology is the result of human activity by exploring stories & experiences from their heritage, from Aotearoa New Zealand’s rich cultural environment, & from contemporary examples of technology. As they learn in technology, students draw on & further develop the key competencies.
Learning area structure - the 3 strands The technology learning area has three strands: Technological Practice, Technological Knowledge, & Nature of Technology. Although the three strands are described separately below, in reality they are almost always integrated in teaching & learning programmes. These three strands are embedded within each of the five technological areas.
In Technological Practice, students examine the practice of others and undertake their own. They develop a range of outcomes, including concepts, plans, briefs, technological models, and fully realised products or systems. Students investigate issues & existing outcomes & use the understandings gained, together with design principles and approaches, to inform their own practice. They also learn to consider ethics, legal requirements, protocols, codes of practice, & the needs of & potential impacts on stakeholders & the environment.
Students develop Technological Knowledge particular to technological enterprises and environments & in relation to how & why things work. They learn how functional modeling is used to evaluate design ideas & how prototyping is used to evaluate the fitness for purpose of systems & products as they are developed. An understanding of material properties, uses & development is essential to understanding how & why products work the way they do. Similarly, an understanding of the constituent parts of systems & how these work together is essential to understanding how & why systems operate in the way they do.
For the Nature of Technology, students develop an understanding of technology as a discipline & of how it differs from other disciplines. They learn to critique the impact of technology on societies & the environment & to explore how developments & outcomes are valued by different peoples in different times. As they do so, they come to appreciate the socially embedded nature of technology & become increasingly able to engage with current & historical issues & to explore future scenarios.
The 5 areas of the technology curriculum 1. computational thinking for digital technologies 2. designing & developing digital outcomes 3. design & visual communication 4. designing & developing materials outcomes 5. designing & developing processed outcomes
Digital technologies The first two of the five technological areas (computational thinking & designing/developing digital outcomes) focus on developing students’ capability to create digital technologies for specific purposes.
In years 1–8, these two areas are usually implemented within other curriculum learning areas, integrating technology outcomes with the learning area outcomes. These two areas also significantly contribute to students developing the knowledge & skills they need as digital citizens & as users of digital technologies across the curriculum. They also provide opportunities to further develop their key competencies.
By the end of year 10, students’ digital technological knowledge & skills enable them to follow a predetermined process to design, develop, store, test and evaluate digital content to address a given issue. Throughout this process, students take into account immediate social & end-user considerations. They can independently decompose a computational problem into an algorithm that they use to create a program incorporating inputs, outputs, sequence, selection and iteration. They understand the role of systems in managing digital devices, security and application software, & they are able to apply file management conventions using a range of storage devices.
By the end of year 13, students who have specialised in digital technologies will design and develop fit-for-purpose digital outcomes, drawing on their knowledge of a range of digital applications & systems & taking into account a synthesis of social, ethical & end-user considerations. They understand how areas of computer science such as network communication protocols & artificial intelligence are underpinned by algorithms, data representation & programming, & they analyse how these are synthesised in real world applications. They use accepted software engineering methodologies to design, develop, document & test complex computer programs.
1. Computational thinking for digital technologies Computational thinking enables students to express problems & formulate solutions in ways that means a computer (an information processing agent) can be used to solve them. In this area, students develop algorithmic thinking skills & an understanding of the computer science principles that underpin all digital technologies. They become aware of what is & isn’t possible with computing, allowing them to make judgments & informed decisions as citizens of the digital world. Students learn core programming concepts & how to take advantage of the capabilities of computers, so that they can become creators of digital technologies, not just users. They develop an understanding of how computer data is stored, how all the information within a computer system is presented using digits, & the impact that different data representations have on the nature & use of this information.
2. Designing & developing digital outcomes In this area, students understand that digital applications and systems are created for humans by humans. They develop increasingly sophisticated understandings and skills for designing and producing quality, fit-for-purpose, digital outcomes. They develop their understanding of the technologies people need in order to locate, analyse, evaluate and present digital information efficiently, effectively and ethically. Students become more expert in manipulating and combining data, using information management tools to create an outcome. They become aware of the unique intellectual property issues that arise in digital systems, particularly with approaches to copyright and patents. They also develop understandings of how to build, install, & maintain computers, networks & systems so that they are secure & efficient. Students develop knowledge & skills in using different technologies to create digital content for the web, interactive digital platforms & print. They construct digital media outcomes that integrate media types & incorporate original content. They also learn how electronic components & techniques are used to design digital devices & integrated to assemble & test an electronic environment.
3. Design & visual communication In this area, students learn to apply design thinking. They develop an awareness of design by using visual communication to conceptualise & develop design ideas in response to a brief. In doing so, they develop visual literacy: the ability to make sense of images & the ability to make images that make sense. They apply their visual literacy through using sketching, digital modes & other modeling techniques to effectively communicate & present design ideas. Students learn that designers identify the qualities & potential of design ideas in terms of the broad principles of design (aesthetics & function) & of sustainability. They also understand that designers are influenced by human, societal, environmental, historical & technological factors.
4. Designing & developing materials outcomes In this area, students develop knowledge & skills that enable them to form, transform & work with resistant materials, textiles & fashion. This allows them to create both conceptual & prototypic technological outcomes that solve problems & satisfy needs & opportunities. They develop knowledge about the systems, structures, machines & techniques used in manufacturing products, & they use manufacturing & quality assurance processes to produce prototypes & batches of a product. Students’ thinking becomes more & more reflective, critical & creative as they assess & critique materials outcomes in terms of quality of design, fitness for purpose & impact & influence on society and the environment. Students become increasingly skilled in applying their knowledge of design principles to create innovative outcomes that realise opportunities & solve real-world problems.
5. Designing & developing processed outcomes In this area, students develop knowledge of the materials & ingredients used to formulate food, chemical & biotechnological products. They form, transform & manipulate materials or ingredients to develop conceptual, prototypic & final technological outcomes that will meet the needs of an increasingly complex society. Students engage in a range of processes related to food technology, biotechnology, chemical technology & agricultural technologies. They explore the impact of different economic & cultural concepts on the development of processed products, including their application in product preservation, packaging & storage. They also develop understandings of the systems, processes and techniques used in manufacturing products and gain experience from using these, along with related quality assurance procedures, to produce prototypes or multiple copies of a product. Students demonstrate increasingly critical, reflective & creative thinking as they evaluate & critique technological outcomes in terms of the quality of their design, their fitness for purpose & their wider impacts. They become more & more skilled in applying their knowledge of design principles to create desired, feasible outcomes that resolve real-world issues.
Learning pathways Over the course of years 1–10, students learn in all five technological areas, developing their knowledge & skills in context. By offering a variety of contexts, teachers help their students to recognise links between technological areas. Students should be encouraged to access relevant knowledge & skills from other learning areas & to build on their developing key competencies. Work towards progress outcomes in computational thinking for digital technologies & designing & developing digital outcomes should build each year in order to ensure learners achieve all of the significant learning steps. In years 11–13, students work with fewer contexts in greater depth. This requires them to continue to draw fully on learning from other disciplines. Learning for senior students opens up pathways that can lead to technology-related careers. Students may access workplace learning opportunities available in a range of industries or move on to further specialised tertiary study.
Digital Technology learning area information from: New Zealand Ministry of Education development paper; Revising the technology learning area to strengthen digital technologies in the New Zealand Curriculum 2016