The nationally developed documents, A statement on technology for Australian schools, and Technology - a curriculum profile for Australian schools provide direction for what is a relatively new and ever changing area of study. As outlined in Educating for the 21st Century, technology is a required area of study for all students, however unlike maths or science, technology is not as readily identified.
Technology means many things to many people. Interpretations of technology range from it being the latest computer and CD-ROM, as tool skills and technical knowledge based on practices in industry, or it being about design processes and organisation. It is therefore understandable how a British report on technology in the curriculum stated that "The problem with technology can be stated very simply: it lacks identity." (Robinson and Smithers, 1992).
Before outlining the strands of technology that give it an identity, it is important to recognise the development of the statements and profiles as part of a larger political agenda for micro-economic reform in Australia.
April 1989, the Australian Education Council (AEC), comprising Commonwealth, state and territory Ministers publish the Common and Agreed Goals of Schooling, often referred to as the 'Hobart Declaration' .
April 1991, the AEC identifies eight areas of learning as the focus for national collaboration:
June 1993, statements completed for all areas of learning. (Mathematics was completed in December, 1990. with Science, English and Technology used for discussion and trialing during 1992.)
July 1993, the AEC referred the documents to the states and territories for consideration.
The decision taken by the AEC in July to delay the adoption of the statements and profiles was surprising, and was due to the change of governments in some states. A majority of ministers on the AEC represented Liberal governments, which asserted state's rights over school education. Despite this, all state education systems are either actively considering or implementing the statements and profiles. 'What, we might ask then, was all the hullabaloo about?' (Grundy, 1994).
The profile for each learning area is a description of the progression in learning outcomes typically achieved by students. Each profile contains eight levels of achievement, establishing an agreed framework for reporting student progress.
When students design, make and appraise, they:
The charter for South Australian schools, Educating for the 21st Century identifies technology as both an essential skill and understanding as well as a required area of study and it is therefore important to develop a shared understanding about the nature of technology and what it looks like in the primary school curriculum.
Technology in primary schools has gained considerable momentum by highlighting the activities that are currently programmed, like developmental play, construction and designing water clocks in a maths lesson. An exercise in listing technological activities ensures that teachers connect with the idea that technology is not just Hi Tec but a process for solving problems with a human need. Having developed a shared understanding teachers, particularly those in junior primary find that aspects of technology infiltrate all areas of the curriculum.
For many years, children in their early years have dealt confidently with a range of materials (card, food, wood, clay) to construct models. They are increasingly using a range of information both at home and in the classrooms to record, report and investigate written and visual forms. They are using, constructing and controlling systems.
The process by which students engage in the content strands listed above is through designing, making and appraising. Activities and tasks are set in relevant contexts, and students develop ideas and create solutions considering either individually or collaboratively what to do, why it should be done, how it should be done and when completed, how it might be improved.
In engaging with these activities they draw on resources (their previous experiences, knowledge from other people, data and information and materials), use a range of tools to form, shape and fabricate the resources (scissors, spoons, staplers, computer software), imitate and invent techniques for performing tasks (for joining, holding, gathering, storing and organising) and consider issues that affect their decisions. (Is it safe? Does it look good? Will it cost too much? What effect will it have on the environment?)
Paralleling this effective training and development program was the development of a state curriculum framework. Attainment levels were produced in 7 required areas of study including technology. This would provide the first curriculum guidelines for South Australian primary schools in technology. In fact what happened was that the document was delivered to schools without the technology framework. The reason that this eventuated was the implications for resourcing. Schools needed support to purchase resources if they were to implement a program that addressed the outcomes outlined in the Attainment levels.
In 1992 a new phase of the focus school program started. There were 36 schools, 10 technology and science (TASC) R-7, 10 mathematics, 10 literacy and 6 Students with Intellectual Potential (SHIPS). The 10 schools that met the criteria for technology and science were Direk, Walkerville, The Pines, Ardtornish, Coromandel Valley, Pinnaroo, Jamestown/Caltowie, Elizabeth East, Hackham West and Hendon.
Two focus teachers, identified within each school participated in a year long, non deficit training and development program. By recognising the skills and needs of the teachers involved a relevant program was developed. The research literature indicates that many successful training and development programs have been based on constructivist learning theory. Osborne & Wittock (1985) suggest that constructivist learning is concerned with strategies by which all learners (including students and teachers) construct ideas about their world.
The TASC focus school training and development program was based on constructivist theory which incorporates such strategies as:
Interestingly the area most teachers required support was in introducing technology. Questions raised included "What is it? What does it look like in junior primary classrooms?" As a response to this, instead of the program being called the Return of SciTec or Sci-Tec 2 it was called TASC Technology and Science for Children. Technology being a focus of this program. At the end of the first phase TASC was evaluated and one of the key issues raised was that technology was happening in schools to the detriment of science.
The next phase involved each focus school networking with 3 or 4 schools. A training and development program was negotiated with the network teachers and collaboratively organised to ensure the needs of the network teachers were met. Over 50 schools have been involved in the long term training and development program. There is evidence to suggest that primary teachers are taking up the challenge of integrating technology through the curriculum.
The focus schools are developmental, dynamic and innovative. They focus on training and development, curriculum documentation and effective classroom practice. Being actively involved in trialing, providing work samples and implementing attainment levels, nationally developed statements and profiles in two required areas of study, science and technology has ensured the focus schools are advocates for current Department for Education and Children's Services initiatives.
A number of schools involved in the trialing of the technology statement and profile have begun to map their curriculum in relation to the technology statement and profile to determine the aspects that require refinement and change, or are recognised in another area of study (eg Home Economics - family and lifestyles). By using the statement and profile as tools to evaluate the achievement of students during and after a unit of work, initially in one content strand and the process strand, teachers have indicated courses are able to be further developed, and they are able to communicate with other teachers and parents about what the students have achieved.
A committee nominates successful projects using set criteria for selection. The criteria has changed since inception. In recent years the criteria have included:
||- lower primary|
- upper primary
- junior secondary
- post compulsory
The technology profile as indicated previously, is a reporting tool that describes the progression in learning outcomes typically achieved by students. Each profile includes:
Level statements: These are general description of students performance for each of the eight levels.There has been some confusion with the eight levels described however, and as indicated in the forward, the eight levels reflect the full range of student achievement during the compulsory years of schooling (Years 1-10). This is not to suggest that all year 10 students should be able to achieve level 8, in fact the majority of year 10 students may achieve level 6, with others below or above this level.
Outcomes: These describe in progressive order the various skills and knowledge that students typically acquire as they become more proficient in an area.
Pointers: Are indicators or signals of the achievement of an outcome. They are examples only.
Annotated students work samples: These show student work that demonstrates the achievement of one or more outcomes at a level. Annotations are provided to show the reasons for judgements.
The recent review of the statement and profile outlined issues related to resources, support materials and training and development needs for technology. Included in this was the dilemma facing schools and teachers who taught across learning areas. Subjects such as home economics, agriculture and business education for example do not fit 'neatly' into one learning area, and as such will be assigning levels across two or more areas of study.
A mapping exercise will be conducted in 1994, in conjunction with teacher associations to provide advice for these subject areas. Recommendations regarding the need for subject specific support materials and the need for focused training and development activities for primary and secondary teachers have also been developed as part of the review and are being considered by the chief executive.
The Curriculum Corporation which produces all of the statements and profiles will also have Using the technology profile available in November 1994, and is developing exemplary units of work in technology for years 6-9, and is planning a support document for home economics.
Australian Education Council (1994). Technology - a curriculum profile for Australian schools. Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne.
Grundy, S. (1994). The National Curriculum Debate in Australia: Discordant Discourse. SA Educational Leader, 5(3).
Morgan, K. (1994). Technological Literacy. Unpublished paper presented to ACET conference, Hobart.
Robinson, P. and Smithers, A. (1992). Technology in the National Curriculum. London: The Engineering Council.
Osborne, R. and Wittock, M. C. (1985). Learning science: A generative process. Science Education, 67(4), 489-508.
|Please cite as: Paige, K. and Treadwell, R. (1994). Technology and the curriculum. In J. Steele and J. G. Hedberg (eds), Learning Environment Technology: Selected papers from LETA 94, 208-212. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech94/mp/paige.html|