Recommendations from ACS will help enhance effectiveness of new program
Brisbane, 3 November 2016 – The ACS – the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector – welcomes the intent behind the Queensland Government’s draft QCAA ‘Digital Solutions’ ATAR curriculum presented at the Association’s inaugural Access IT Conference, saying the state is showing real leadership in recognising the impact that digital and technology will have on future workforces.
Exclusively presented as part of the Education Panel on day-two of ACS Queensland’s AccessIT Conference – which brought together key leaders in ICT to discuss its future, as well as showcase Queensland’s growing global hub of ICT businesses, talent and industry collaborators – it was concluded the initiative will better prepare today’s youth for the hugely disrupted workforce in the years ahead.
The new Digital Solutions curriculum is a complete overhaul to the existing ICT courses being taught at schools currently for Year 11 and 12 students.
Ross Medina, ACS Queensland State Manager, said: “As a Computer Science course it has great potential. It has a comprehensive coding focus in Unit One (of four units), and other coding related areas such as design, User Interface (UI), addressing user requirements (UX), which is good to see.
“Unit Two looks at applications and data, while Unit Three looks at the critical topic of the practical application of IT, from the Internet of Things, to robotics, game development, computer generated media and virtual reality. Finally, Unit Four will consider the impact of the digital, with coursework focused around security, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning,” he said.
Overall, the coursework will be comprehensive, and give students with and without aptitude for coding a baseline understanding of the roles that they might have in future STEM-based career paths.
The ACS has a number of recommendations that would help enhance the effectiveness of the program:
1) An increased focus on ethics. With automation predicted to replace over 40 per cent of jobs in the next five to 10 years, the ongoing discussion around human values and ethics needs to be kept top-of-mind, and taught at an early age.
2) The Digital Solutions draft prescribes Problem-Based Learning as the active approach. The ACS recommends this to be complementary to Real-World Project-Based Learning. Taught exclusively, Problem-Based Learning risks providing insufficient critical thinking, complex communication and creative thinking skills. Grounding the program better in the real world will also help motivation and engagement levels.
3) The addition of coursework in the development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) would be a good fit for the syllabus.
Mr Medina continued: “The biggest issue that we see with the module is not an appropriate course for the majority of senior students. Based on the current enrolment figures for Information Processes and Technology, we cannot expect more than 10 to 20 per cent of students to enrol in this currently non-mandatory subject.
“Comparing Mathematics in the new ATAR curriculum, we have four subjects to be offered: Mathematics Essentials; Mathematics General; Mathematics Methods; and Mathematics Specialist. Under a similar classification we could see these as Mathematical Literacy (Essentials); Mathematical Fluency (General) and Mathematical Mastery (Methods & Specialist). This clearly caters for the range of skills and aptitudes, and even to some degree, student interests and future career aspirations
“In very stark contrast, the QCAA will be offering only a Digital Mastery course, yet no courses within the ATAR set of subjects. Why in an increasing digital world, based very strongly on IT, are we looking at offering four Maths; four English and four Science subjects to cater for this range of skill development; aptitudes and interests, but only one IT subject.”
Louise Proctor, Launch Group, 0452 574 244 firstname.lastname@example.org
About the ACS
The ACS is the professional association for Australia’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Over 20,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. The ACS exists to create the environment and provide the opportunities for members and partners to succeed. The ACS strives for ICT professionals to be recognised as drivers of innovation in our society, relevant across all sectors, and to promote the formulation of effective policies on ICT and related matters. Visit www.acs.org.au for more information.