Thursday, March 07, 2013

Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies Foundation to Year 10

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has released a Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies Foundation to Year 10 for comment. The document itself is well structured and written. It presents a coherent and ambitious curriculum. Unfortunately it is not clear if Australia is prepared to invest the resources to train teachers and equip they and the students with the resources required to implement such a Curriculum. Systems thinking and Project management are challenging topics for university IT students and it is not clear how these will be introduced at the school level. Shayne Flint has been looking into these issues at
the Australian National University for some time (see "Rethinking Systems Thinking") and some of this has been incorporated into the course "Unravelling Complexity").
The Curriculum document is 108 pages of PDF (a relatively small 606Kbytes). Unfortunately the ACARA has made the document hard to get, with excessive and incorrect instructions on their consultation page. This has a different name for the document in the title ("draft F-10 Australian Curriculum: Technologies"), puts the link to the document down in the second paragraph and claims erroneously that readers are required to register before they can access the document. It is not clear if this is a deliberate attempt to discourage reading of the document, or simply poor communication design (which is ironic given the document is about how to use IT). Also it is unfortunate the document is only provided as a PDF download, not in native web format, thus making it harder to access and read (ironically I had difficulty reading the section of the document on access for the disabled). One problem is that the document appears to lack a conventional table of contents, the PDF index being the only way to get an overview of the content.

Key ideas of the Technologies learning area

Systems thinking and the overarching idea: Creating preferred futures

The Technologies curriculum focuses on systems thinking to develop the technologies knowledge, understanding and skills to provide a method for identifying and moving towards ethical, socially responsible and sustainable patterns of living. Systems thinking is a holistic approach where parts of a system are analysed individually to see the whole, the interactions and interrelationships between the parts and how these parts or components
influence the system as a whole.

In both Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies this provides opportunities for students to engage in predicting outcomes and impacts of technological decisions for current and future generations and their environments. Students creatively and actively design solutions to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Both subjects acknowledge the strong connection with the Australian Curriculum: Sustainability cross-curriculum priority.

Project management

The Technologies curriculum ensures that students are explicitly taught how to manage projects. This includes planning; evaluating processes; considering constraints; risk assessment and management; decision-making strategies; quality control; developing resource, finance, work and time plans; and collaborating and communicating with others at different stages of the process. Every technologies project involves the use of resources and it is critical that there is planning for sustainable use of resources when managing projects.
Technologies projects involve ethical, health and safety considerations. They are designed for the different needs (including consideration of personal and social beliefs and values) of consumers and clients, and for commercial realities. Students learn that when they and others engage in design thinking and technologies processes, they are responsible and accountable for their designs and solutions.

Project management is an essential element in building students’ capacity to successfully innovate in both Technologies subjects. Project work and project management occur as a part of everyday life and are critical to many fields of technologies employment. Technologies education allows students to develop skills to manage projects from identification of need or opportunity through conception to realisation. Project management is addressed in all years of schooling as individuals and groups of students plan how they will work to bring a design idea to fruition.

Assessing and managing risk in Technologies learning addresses the safe use of technologies and the risks that can impact on project timelines. It covers all necessary aspects of health, safety and injury prevention at any year level and in any technologies context when using potentially dangerous materials, tools and equipment. It includes ergonomics, safety including cyber safety, data security, and ethical and legal considerations when communicating and collaborating online.

From: Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies Foundation to Year 10, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), February 2013

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