2020 is a year of challenges for New Zealand schools embracing the new ‘Digital Technology curriculum integration’ initiative from the government. The challenge being most schools are not prepared for it. So what are the challenges? Of course, resources (both digital and physical) need strengthening. But the big one is teacher and school preparation. Are teachers digitally fluent in order to take on any inter-disciplinary integration of ‘creating’ digital content through their curriculum plans?

(Nationwide) the answer to which is not known. Currently there is a gap in research for the situation. As far as Wellington city / Wider Wellington and Wairarapa is concerned, I know that there are teachers and schools taking an active role in getting up to speed with the demands of the new look DT curriculum. The big advantage is that, the presence of Progress Outcomes spread over a decent timeline gives teachers the breathing space to share/discuss their teaching/learning with others. There are plenty of online resources now published by the DTHM group and a whole bunch of DT ‘providers’ showing up in this space, offering a range of PD for teachers. School administrators will need to take adequate steps to ensure they give their teachers, time, to attend these sessions and then test them out in their classrooms.

On the ECSOutreach front, we are looking forward for yet another challenge. To aim for more schools and assist them with the DT cross curricular implementation. The target for me is to visit one rural school each month and do outreach activities with them. There are plenty on the outskirts of Wellington (both along SH1 and SH2) and very few have had visits from any PD providers. So any help will be useful.

We aim to make some cool robotics resources for our outreach events this year. Starting with a CT robot which will hopefully be at half the price of a beebot/bluebot etc. Completing the Megabit (inset) would be the next challenge. The Megabit is a 15x scale of the Microbit, fully working display model aimed for open uni events and the classroom. We are taking our MarsRover model (made from the JPL rover plans) down to Dunedin for the Space and Science festival in July. Plus all the usual events around Wellington. We also aim to get more participants for Robocup (22 last year) and host the VEX regional event too.

But the big news for outreach is: We are getting our OWN space at the university. Knowing that the university is short on space, this is a big deal. But the potential is enormous for a ‘learning lab’! We can run day/after school events for schools – students and teachers, holiday programmes, do a ‘tie up’ with Faculty of Ed for teacher training, host international teachers, etc. Plus CS4HS doesn’t need to be annual event, but a monthly catchup in a range of topics.

If you are keen to work with me on outreach events in Wellington/Wairarapa please contact me on pravin.vaz@vuw.ac.nz and we will be able to host your skill for the teachers at this new space. Or if you are a school and looking for volunteers to run a codeclub we can try find you Engineering students who might be keen. Let me know!

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