The Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies (F–10) comprises two related strands:
- Digital Technologies knowledge and understanding – the information system components of data, and digital systems (hardware, software and networks)
- Digital Technologies processes and production skills – using digital systems to create ideas and information, and to define, design and implement digital solutions, and evaluate these solutions and existing information systems against specified criteria.
Table 3 outlines the focus of expected knowledge, understanding and skills in Digital Technologies F–10 and Figure 4 illustrates the relationship between the Digital Technologies strands.
Table 3: Digital Technologies content structure
|Knowledge and understanding||Processes and production skills|
||Collecting, managing and analysing data
Creating digital solutions by:
Figure 4: Relationship between the Digital Technologies strands
Relationship between the strands
Together, the two strands provide students with knowledge, understanding and skills through which they can safely and ethically exploit the capacity of information systems (people, data, processes, digital systems and their interactions) to systematically transform data into solutions that respond to the needs of individuals, society, the economy and the environment. Teaching and learning programs will typically integrate these, as content in processes and production skills frequently draws on understanding of concepts in the knowledge and understanding strand.
The strands are based on key concepts that provide a framework for knowledge and practice in Digital Technologies. For more information see Key concepts below.
Digital Technologies knowledge and understanding
This strand focuses on developing the underpinning knowledge and understanding of information systems: digital systems and representation of data.
The digital systems content descriptions focus on the components of digital systems: hardware, software and networks. In the early years, students learn about a range of hardware and software and progress to an understanding of how data are transmitted between components within a system, and how the hardware and software interact to form networks.
Representation of data
The representation of data content descriptions focus on how data are represented and structured symbolically for use by digital systems. Different types of data are studied in the bands including text, numeric, images (still and moving) and sound from Foundation to Year 8 and then categorical and relational data in Year 9 and 10.
Digital Technologies processes and production skills
This strand focuses on developing skills to create digital solutions to problems and opportunities. The Digital Technologies processes and production skills strand focuses on:
- collecting, managing and analysing data, which involves the nature and properties of data, how they are collected and interpreted using a range of digital systems and peripheral devices and interpreting data when creating information
- defining problems and designing digital solutions (Foundation – Year 2), which develops into defining problems and designing, implementing and evaluating solutions that have been developed by students, and evaluating how well existing information systems meet different needs (Year 3–10)
- communicating ideas and information (Foundation – Year 4), which develops into managing, creating and communicating ideas and information (Year 5–6) through to independently and collaboratively managing projects to create interactive solutions (Year 7–10). This involves creating and communicating information, especially online by creating websites, and interacting safely using appropriate technical and social protocols.
These require skills in using digital systems; and critical and creative thinking including systems, design and computational thinking.
The curriculum is designed so that students will develop and use increasingly sophisticated computational thinking skills, and processes, techniques and digital systems to create solutions to address specific problems, opportunities or needs. Computational thinking is a process of recognising aspects of computation in the world and being able to think logically, algorithmically, recursively and abstractly. Students will also apply procedural techniques and processing skills when creating, communicating and sharing ideas and information, and managing projects.
A number of key concepts underpin the Digital Technologies curriculum. These establish a way of thinking about problems, opportunities and information systems and provide a framework for knowledge and practice. The key concepts are:
- abstraction, which underpins all content, particularly the content descriptions relating to the concepts of data representation, and specification, algorithms and implementation
- data collection (properties, sources and collection of data), data representation (symbolism and separation) and data interpretation (patterns and contexts)
- specification (descriptions and techniques), algorithms (following and describing) and implementation (translating and programming)
- digital systems (hardware, software, and networks and the internet)
- Interactions (people and digital systems, data and processes) and impacts (sustainability and empowerment).
The concepts of abstraction, data collection, representation and interpretation, specification, algorithms and implementation 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. They provide a language and perspective that students and teachers can use when discussing digital technologies.
Abstraction 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 concepts that are about data focus on the properties of data, how they are collected and represented, and how they are interpreted in context to produce information. These concepts in Digital Technologies build on a corresponding statistics and probability strand in the Mathematics curriculum. The Digital Technologies curriculum provides a deeper understanding 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.
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 collection is addressed in the processes and production skills strand. Data representation describes how data are represented and structured symbolically for storage and communication, by people and in digital systems, and is addressed in the knowledge and understanding strand. Data interpretation describes the processes of extracting meaning from data and is addressed in the processes and production strand.
Specification, algorithms and implementation
The concepts specification, algorithms and implementation 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. This concept draws 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. These generic skills can be developed without programming. For example, students can follow the steps within a recipe or describe directions to locate items. Implementation describes the automation of an algorithm, typically by using appropriate software or writing a computer program. These concepts are addressed in the processes and production skills strand.
The digital systems concept focuses on the components of digital systems: hardware and software (computer architecture and the operating system), and networks and the internet (wireless, mobile and wired networks and protocols). This concept is addressed in both strands. The broader definition of an information system that includes data, people, processes and digital systems falls under the interactions and impacts concept below.
Interactions and impacts
The interactions and impacts concepts focus 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 and impacts are addressed in the processes and production skills strand.
Interactions refers 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 describes analysing and predicting the extent to which personal, economic, environmental and social needs are met through existing and emerging digital technologies; and appreciating the transformative potential of digital technologies 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.
Types of digital solutions
Across each band, students will create digital solutions that will use data, require interactions with users and within systems, and will have impacts on people, the economy and environments. Solutions may be developed using combinations of readily available hardware and software applications, and/or specific instructions provided through programming. Some examples of solutions are instructions for a robot, an adventure game, products featuring interactive multimedia including digital stories, animations and websites.