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Digital Technologies

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Learning in Digital Technologies

In Digital Technologies, students are actively engaged in the processes of analysing problems and opportunities, designing, developing and evaluating digital solutions, and creating and sharing information that meets a range of current and future needs. Students learn to safely and ethically exploit the capacity of information systems to create digital solutions. These solutions and information are created through the application of computational, design and systems thinking, and technical skills.

Key concepts

Underpinning the learning in Digital Technologies is a set of key concepts (outlined below) that establish a way of thinking about problems, opportunities and information systems and provide a framework for knowledge and practice.

The key concepts of abstraction, data collection, representation and interpretation, specification, algorithms and development correspond to the key elements of computational thinking. Collectively these concepts span the key ideas about the organisation, representation and automation of digital solutions and information. They can be explored in non-digital or digital contexts and are likely to underpin future digital systems and provide a language and perspective that students and teachers can use when discussing Digital Technologies.

Key conceptsDescription
AbstractionAbstraction involves hiding details of an idea, problem or solution that are not relevant, to focus on a manageable number of aspects. Abstraction is a natural part of communication: people rarely communicate every detail, because many details are not relevant in a given context. The idea of abstraction can be acquired from an early age. For example, when students are asked how to make toast for breakfast, they do not mention all steps explicitly, assuming that the listener is an intelligent implementer of the abstract instructions. Central to managing the complexity of information systems is the ability to ‘temporarily ignore’ the internal details of the subcomponents of larger specifications, algorithms, systems or interactions. In digital systems, everything must be broken down into simple instructions.
Data collection, representation and interpretation

The data concepts focus on the properties of data, how they are collected and represented, and how they are interpreted in context to produce information.

  • Data collection describes the numerical, categorical and textual facts measured, collected or calculated as the basis for creating information and its binary representation in digital systems.
  • Data representation describes how data are represented and structured symbolically for storage and communication, by people and in digital systems.
  • Data interpretation describes the processes of extracting meaning from data.
These concepts in Digital Technologies build on a corresponding Statistics and Probability strand in the Mathematics curriculum. The Digital Technologies curriculum provides opportunities to acquire deep knowledge of the nature of data and their representation, and computational skills for interpreting data. The data concepts provide rich opportunities for authentic data exploration in other learning areas while developing data processing and visualisation skills.
Specification, algorithms and development

The concepts of specification, algorithms and development focus on the precise definition and communication of problems and their solutions. This begins with the description of tasks and concludes in the accurate definition of computational problems and their algorithmic solutions. These concepts draw from logic, algebra and the language of mathematics, and can be related to the scientific method of recording experiments in science:

  • Specification describes the process of defining and communicating a problem precisely and clearly. For example, explaining the need to direct a robot to move in a particular way.
  • An algorithm is a precise description of the steps and decisions needed to solve a problem. Algorithms will need to be tested before the final solution can be implemented. Anyone who has followed or given instructions, or navigated using directions, has used an algorithm. Algorithmic thinking skills can be developed without programming. For example, students can follow the steps within a recipe or describe directions to locate items.
  • Development describes the automation of an algorithm, typically by using appropriate software or writing a computer program.
Digital systems

The digital systems concept focuses on the components of digital systems:

  • Hardware and software (computer architecture and the operating system)
  • Networks and the internet (wireless, mobile and wired networks and protocols).

The broader definition of an information system that includes data, people, processes and digital systems falls under the interactions and impacts concept.

Interactions and impacts

The interactions and impacts concept focuses on all aspects of human interaction with and through information systems, and the enormous potential for positive and negative economic, environmental and social impacts enabled by these systems:

  • Interactions refer to all human interactions with information systems, especially user interfaces and experiences, and human-human interactions including communication and collaboration facilitated by digital systems. This concept also addresses methods for protecting stored and communicated data and information.
  • Impacts describe analysing and predicting the extent to which personal, economic, environmental and social needs are met through existing and emerging digital systems and devices; and appreciating the transformative potential of digital systems in people’s lives. It also involves consideration of the relationship between information systems and society and in particular the ethical and legal obligations of individuals and organisations regarding ownership and privacy of data and information.

Student safety

When students are problem-solving and creating and communicating information, they will apply skills and protocols to meet their legal, safety, cultural and ethical obligations and responsibilities. For example, protocols such as using acceptable language, acknowledging different cultural practices, and using passwords and privacy settings on social media sites are applied to increase the security of personal data and to respect participants in online environments.

Integrating the strands

Students draw on the content of the Data and Information, and Digital Systems strands when applying processes and technical skills pertaining to the Creating Digital Solutions strand. Within this strand, students apply the interrelated processes of analysing, designing, developing and evaluating to create digital solutions. The processes can be applied using an agile or sequential approach.

As problems become more complex, and solutions more sophisticated, it becomes increasingly necessary for students to develop skills in abstraction. Solutions may be developed using combinations of readily available hardware and software applications, and/or specific instructions provided through programming. Students may also engage in learning activities that do not require the full use of all of the processes.  This means there is greater flexibility about when different content descriptions are introduced into the learning program within a band.

Connections with other curriculum areas

There are strong connections between Digital Technologies and some other discipline-based learning areas.

  • Digital Technologies and Mathematics

The Digital Technologies curriculum provides contexts within which Mathematics understanding, fluency, logical reasoning, analytical thought and problem-solving skills can be applied and developed. In particular, computational thinking draws on mathematical understanding and skills. An understanding of data and data analysis skills will enhance students’ abilities to analyse patterns and trends, and logical reasoning will support the design of algorithms.

  • Digital Technologies and Science

The Digital Technologies curriculum complements many aspects of the Science curriculum. Digital Technologies equips students with many techniques and skills for facilitating the collection, organisation, storage, analysis and presentation of qualitative and quantitative scientific data to enable evidence-based conclusions to be drawn from investigations. Digital Technologies enables students to use simulations and animations to support the development of their understanding of scientific concepts and models and to test predictions about scientific phenomena that may be difficult to explore through first-hand investigations.

  • Digital Technologies and Geography

The Digital Technologies curriculum complements aspects of the Geography curriculum.  In Digital Technologies students learn how to collect, sort, validate, represent and manipulate data and information, as well as recognise patterns in datasets. These skills are applied in Geography, for example, when students develop spatial understandings through creating, interpreting and using maps, and collecting fieldwork data and processing them.

  • Digital Technologies and The Arts

The Digital Technologies curriculum complements aspects of The Arts curriculum, particularly with respect to design and using digital systems. In Digital Technologies students engage in design thinking as part of the Creating Digital Solutions stand. These skills are also applied in The Arts as students generate alternative ideas, select and apply design principles and elements and sequence decisions and events. In Digital Technologies students learn about the functionality of a range of digital systems, and these skills are applied when transforming ideas into art forms.

Information Communication Technologies and Digital Technologies

Information Communication Technologies (ICT) are powerful tools that can support student learning. Students can develop and demonstrate their understanding of concepts and content in Digital Technologies through using a range of ICT tools. It is also important that students know how to use these ICT efficiently and responsibly, as well as learning how to protect themselves and secure their data.

Details of how ICT can support student learning in Digital Technologies is set out in the attached Information Communication Technologies and Digital Technologies pdf.

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