Humans are naturally creative, and constantly invent, explore and discover new things either through necessity or curiosity. Since humans are also social creatures, it is not surprising to discover how many developments are made in pursuit of information sharing and greater communication or connectedness.
In recent years, the rate of progress and development in information and communication technologies has been unprecedented. The digital era and the internet are developing connectivity at a greater rate than we could ever possibly have imagined.
In the early 1980s, Motorola released the first mobile phone. It weighed 1kg and was roughly the size of a bag of sugar. Costing $4000 (USD), the service charges were huge and its only functionality was to make and receive calls (of 30 minutes or less) in limited areas.
Fast forward to 2017 and a basic smart phone, at a cost of $50, will allow anyone to access the internet and view almost anything within milliseconds at the tap of a screen. Augmented reality (AR) technology is already in development and, according to Co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is set to replace smart phones and all digital screens.
We are now in the age of digital disruption and the internet and related technologies, including virtual and augmented digital realities have changed – and will continue to change – the nature of communication and connectedness in life and work.
The term “digital native” has been coined, suggesting that young people, especially, have a natural level of comfort and familiarity with new technologies. This is somewhat misleading: while we are becoming increasingly confident as users of the new technologies, we are less involved as creators and we are not necessarily developing adequate skills in analysing or evaluating the content that is now overwhelmingly available.
At Woodford House, we are continuing to blend the traditional with the new and we are mindful of the skills and attributes that our students will need in the years to come as technology develops further and faster. We are keen to ensure that our students will be able to create new technology as well as use it, and that they will be able to analyse and evaluate the content, and select appropriate and relevant material to suit their needs.
The Ministry of Education has recently been reviewing the New Zealand Curriculum to reflect the impact of changes in the way we use technology and prepare students for the future. The new Digital Technologies Curriculum is now in draft form for consultation and we are lucky to have Ms Lynn McKenna as a member of the working party.
Students in our Intermediate classes are already ahead of the field and are learning about computational thinking – which is essential for advanced programming – and also learning about basic algorithms and coding skills. At this stage, and this is very important for their understanding and appreciation of digital technologies, the foundation work is being done without computers – which makes the learning even more exciting.
Our creative students are inventing, exploring and discovering new ways of communicating and connecting that will serve them well for now, and in the years ahead, and we are looking forward to reporting on the students’ progress and the development of the programme – both at Woodford House and across New Zealand.
Mrs Hazel Redpath, Deputy Principal – Teaching and Learning