The Complete Guide to Building a Technological Curriculum
By Hugo Aguirre
In line with the skyrocketing usage of new technologies in our everyday lives and workplace, the demand for technological skills, both in programming and technology applications, is expected to increase by more than 50% over the next decade. According to the same source, the need for complex cognitive skills, such as problem-solving and analytical skills, will increase by one-third.
Educational institutions and schools worldwide have long recognized the need to teach children technological skills at an early age. Even most rural schools in lower-income economies now offer extensive computer science classes.
However, what the educational world still needs to implement is an overarching technology curriculum that incorporates students’ development of complex cognitive skills in addition to those related to technical tools.
Let’s discover what a technology curriculum requires and how schools can best implement it.
1. Identify international guidelines and trends
The world of education and professional life is becoming more and more interconnected, and tomorrow’s workers are likely to compete in the global talent market. To create a future-proof technology curriculum, schools and educators should use current, international standards as guidance. Nowadays, big companies in the tech industry are setting the guidelines for which skills and tech tools to handle are crucial.
For example, Microsoft offers programs that teach kids and students about programming, software development, and artificial intelligence. Amazon offers cloud engineering and cloud skills through AWS Education. Moreover, major companies like ADOBE are increasingly partnering with universities like Oxford University and schools to set global references for educational programs.
These trends are ideal for aligning curriculum with the necessary skills set and for constantly evolving that curriculum accordingly. Rather than designing a curriculum on a local or personal level, this is more efficient and strategically decisive.
The so-called STEM subjects are a good guideline for educating students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and more, and specify some skills for each subject. International curricula are often based on the STEM list of topics, and any further expansion of subjects in this list aims to reflect international trends.
2. Implement a methodology for developing diverse skills
While technical skills are critical, other more difficult-to-measure skills are equally important. One hands-on learning method that teaches students technical skills and complex cognitive skills is Project-Based Learning (PBL).
During a PBL session, students actively work on a central task, often a project, over several weeks. These projects typically ask children to find solutions to real-world problems by navigating through the phases of research, exploration, solution development, and application. Students use various technological tools at each stage, with internet as the primary tool for research. When exploring and defining solutions, students can utilize software programs for data analysis, robotics, and 3D programs for testing simulations when exploring and defining solutions. Graphic tools allow for visualizing results when discussing and defining solutions. A good example is a culinary school fundraising project, where students plan a food fair for the school. In this project, learners distribute and plan budgets with spreadsheets, calculate the required entry fees, develop flyers and graphics, and finally record a video of the entire food fair.
As a communication-based and student-centered method, PBL can foster students’ personal and social responsibility, develop their critical thinking, and improve their presentation skills. This teaching method subsequently contributes to better educational outcomes, increases students’ motivation to learn, and integrates the usage of technological tools into learning experiences.
Teachers can use project-based learning in a variety of ways and in a variety of subjects. However, they must ensure that there is adequate time for each phase to implement PBL effectively. Additionally, students must receive individual support and be encouraged to use various technology tools throughout the process by their teachers.
The assessment of project-based learning is fundamentally different from what we are used to in traditional teaching methods. Instead of assessing knowledge through repeated tests, teachers can assess individual student development throughout the project and assign a grade for the overall execution of the assignment. Design, attention to detail, originality, and teamwork are all factors for defining the final grade. This type of assessment has the advantage that students don’t work toward a single exam and forget the results afterward. Teachers also get a holistic picture of students’ skills, weaknesses, and learning progress.
3. Acquire the necessary tools
Let’s get to the resources needed to implement a technology curriculum. This could be one of the biggest challenges for schools, especially if they have been shying away from technology until recently. However, institutions and schools need to take a hard look at creating tech connectivity before any step forward becomes an arduous task.
A technology curriculum involves more than just connecting to the internet. Those who want to teach children how to use new technologies need suitable applications, platforms, and software. Forward-thinking schools should also have robotics, programming tools like Scratch, or programs for image editing like Photoshop. Here, it’s essential to cater to talents and preferences. Even though all students should know how to code, there are always some more drawn to photo and video design and others to web development.
Even though such tools require a significant investment, there are cheaper alternatives. Schools can either purchase software licenses and technology directly or partner with a technology curriculum provider that can loan them access to robotics, 3D simulations, and other necessary tools for developing 21st-century technology skills.
4. Search for allies
Each learning institution can introduce its own curriculum and adapt it to national standards and its circumstances. Nonetheless, this is an extensive process as schools need to decide what topics they want to promote, what tools they want to buy or borrow, and what learning methodology they want to implement.
The alternative is employing existing technology curricula together with a provider. A good offering will consider cultural and structural details and incorporate teacher and student needs. Educational institutions need to seek advice from professionals who have good offerings and exciting features to help them implement their programs.
However, a technology curriculum is not easily fully implemented in a few weeks. Redesigning the current curriculum takes time and effort. A subject like trigonometry is constant, but there is always something new to discover in the tech world. Therefore, it is essential to update the curriculum based on new trends. Schools will achieve a forward-looking education with considerably less effort by seeking allies, exchanging insights with educators, and relying on global guidelines.
About the author
Hugo Aguirre is the development and education director of TBox. He coordinates innovation projects in educational platforms and designs didactic materials for technological training for K-12 students and teachers.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.