Nathan Gray – Technology Learning Area Leader

I remember as a child helping my parents to program the video cassette recorder (VCR). Fast forward 25 years and I still find myself helping my parents. However, unlike my parents who let technology pass them by, being a teacher in this area requires me to stay up to date with emerging technologies so that I can teach the most up to date curriculum.

It is suggested that as technology continues to evolve, up to 40% of Australian jobs could become automated processes by the year 2025. For this reason, it’s essential that students develop a sophisticated understanding of digital technologies to equip them for life.

Digital Technologies is a relatively new subject that falls within the Technology Learning Area. At Cornerstone College, it is a compulsory subject throughout Middle School and is offered as an elective in Years 10-12. Digital Technology can be described as any technology that is controlled by a set of digital instructions, many of which we use daily such as personal computers, mobile phones and smart tv’s.

Where the previous curriculum model, Information Technology, focused on digital literacy (the ability for students to use digital technology effectively), the new Digital Technologies curriculum extends this by focusing on how digital technologies work, how they are created and how they are coded.

For students to be successful in each of these areas, they need to be able to demonstrate general capabilities such as creative thinking, problem solving, logical planning and critical evaluation. These capabilities are embedded in student learning and are transferrable to many life and work situations.

While not all students will leave school to become full-time computer programmers, there will be many jobs emerging in the next 20 years that will rely heavily on the skills, knowledge and capabilities students gain from studying Digital Technologies.

To ensure students are adequately prepared for these jobs, it is important that we vary the types of coding environments and languages they experience. Some of the languages currently used at Cornerstone include Scratch, Python, C++, Java and Lua. These languages are used to control different devices including Sphero Robots, Computer Programs, Mobile Phone Apps and Arduino Microcontrollers.

While we are currently using up to date digital technologies at Cornerstone, it’s extremely difficult to predict what will evolve in the next 20 years.To put things in perspective, approximately 20 years ago:

  • The first Apple iMac was announced yet there were no iPods, iPads, iWatches or iPhones. In fact, the most popular mobile phone on the market was the Nokia 5110
  • Google was founded (1998) but Alta Vista was the most popular search engine
  • Social Media was very limited. There was no Myspace (2003), Facebook (2004) or Twitter (2006) let alone Instagram (2010) and Snap Chat (2011)
  • Microsoft launched Windows 98. There have been 9 versions and countless editions launched since

This flashback suggests that what we are currently teaching in Digital Technologies will not be current in 5, let alone 20 years’ time.

To ensure Digital Technologies remains current at Cornerstone, we’re constantly evaluating and updating teaching programs and resources. This allows us to engage and challenge students with different technologies, preparing them for the future and giving them the skills to succeed in this digital age.