Embracing the Digital Technologies curriculum with the Australian Computing Academy

The Australian Computing Academy help with the Digital Technologies curriculum

You might be surprised to hear that even experienced computer programmer and computer teacher of 20 years, Todd Beilby has struggled to implement the Digital Technologies curriculum (DT) into his classes.

“Some students come in with coding experience, but it’s far less than I would have thought; about one or two students in a class of 20,” says Todd.

It wasn’t until Todd introduced the Australian Computing Academy’s (ACA) coding tools to his classroom that things really turned around.

The Australian Computing Academy

The ACA, which is dedicated to helping and supporting teachers engage students in the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, provides free classroom-ready resources to do just that. Some of these resources, developed by some of the curriculum’s original authors, include online coding games and tutorials, which explain the most difficult concepts of the DT curriculum.

You can exercise literary skills by building a Pirate Chatbot with your students, or explore the intersection of programming and geometry by creating fonts and colourful firework displays using code. The ACA’s programs are free for years 5-8.

Teacher-focused workshop support

Todd heard about the ACA as a member of ICT Educators NSW. He attended one of ACA’s nation-wide workshops for teachers hosted by Amanda Hogan, Computing Education Specialist at the ACA and president of ICTENSW. The experience clarified the relevance of the curriculum, making it much easier to teach.

The Australian Computing Academy help with the Digital Technologies curriculum

Teachers mastering the Digital Technologies curriculum with one of the Australian Computing Academy’s nation-wide workshops

“The workshop gave us a deep understanding of how it all comes together. She unpacked the curriculum, and helped us to build our content theory around the key modules,” says Todd.

“She even took us through practical activities, off-computer.”

Many activities use the easy-to-understand, visual language Blockly, alongside general-purpose programming like Python, Javascript and Arduino. Comprehensive lesson plans and teacher notes are also provided.

Online and offline learning

Todd has also seen that there’s much to be gained by integrating offline learning; now he confidently builds his lessons around the modules, creating worksheets and manual activities to ensure his students understand computational thinking.

“Teachers can feel intimidated by the Digital Technologies curriculum, and feel like they need to be an expert in coding – but they don’t,” says Hogan. “Since our challenges are developed by some of the curriculum authors, they know its challenges and have focused on developing resources that are designed to taught by all teachers  – even those who don’t have any computer science background.”

Todd tackles the challenge of DT with out-of-the-box ideas, like taking his year 10 students to help teach ACA challenges to year 5 kids at a nearby primary school.

“The primary teachers say ‘I can’t do this’, but the year 10 students are teaching the year 5 students and it makes the process a lot less intimidating and much more collaborative.”

And if you still need help? The ACA provides detailed teacher notes, as well as email support and a hotline to answer even the most difficult questions and scenarios.

– Eliza Brockwell

Find free resources for years 5-8, including teacher notes and workshop support for the Digital Technologies curriculum at the Australian Computing Academy.

Find free resources for years 5-8, including teacher notes and workshop support for the Digital Technologies curriculum at the Australian Computing Academy.

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Eliza Brockwell

Author: Eliza Brockwell

Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.

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