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Using the Digital Curriculum, the right way.

I was presenting at a staff meeting today to help clear up what the Digital Technologies Curriculum actually means in practice. Whether you are a techie or not, there are points to consider when working within the Digital Curriculum.

Am I already covering some of the content?

Most likely YES! Don't think that you have to change the way you are teaching in the classroom, you are probably already doing some of your teaching within the curriculum, you might just have to tweak the language a little. Coding for example, is basically writing instructions to get an app/computer/robot to do what you need it to do. It is breaking down a large problem into smaller easier to solve problems to get the outcome you need (Computational Thinking), testing to see if it works (Designing Digital Outcomes) and working out the mistakes (debugging). If a set of instructions always leads to the same result then you have created an algorithm, which you can use again and again to help make your code easier and quicker to write.

If my students are using the iPads are they working within the curriculum?

Depending on the app/programme they are using, it is quite possibly no. The big difference in using the Digital Curriculum is the create part. If you are using an app for practising skills then you are a consumer not a creator, and therefore not working within the curriculum, but if you are using an open ended app to create a presentation, create an animation, or 'create' anything then you are getting there. When students know how to use a digital device then they are showing digital literacy, which is handy for working in the Digital Curriculum but a separate entity all together.

Do I have enough digital devices?

Probably. In an ideal world each child would have one device but we all know that for a lot of schools that is just not happening. However, there are a lot of activities that students can do 'unplugged' or 'offline' that fit nicely within the curriculum. Sequencing activities, using positional language, writing instructions or offline coding activities all fall within the framework of the curriculum. Yes, you do need devices sometimes but don't worry if you only have a small number to use. You can use small group work or use different types of tools to show the students' work. Using iMovie, stop motion animation, or green screening for example only need one device per group of students.

Do I need separate 'digital time'?

No. When starting to work with an app or programme you will of course need to have a separate time time explicitly teach how it all works. After that though, a child is working within the curriculum if they are able to choose the best digital tool for the job. The choice is what we are aiming for. Think about this, I'm building a new house and want to know if I should buy a hammer or a screwdriver. You can't build a house with just one of those tools, as each tool does a different job. Choosing the digital device or app works the same way. It's okay to ask students to all use Book Creator to present their writing at first, but ultimately you want them to make the choice for themselves. Which tool would suit the purpose best? You might find that Google Slides is a better way to present the writing, or Google Docs - each tool serves a different purpose and our students should have the opportunity to work in a number of different avenues.

These questions are common to all teachers who are trying to understand how to best use the Digital Curriculum without creating extra workload (who wants that!). Start small, don't think that you have to have it all sorted right now, and work with what you have right now. Once you take small steps it will be easier to see the next step as you go - Computational Thinking again!

Do you have any questions about how to integrate the Digital Curriculum in your classroom?

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