ICT and Digital Technologies – are they different?

Curriculum officer Martin Levins reflects on the difference (and similarities) between information and communication technology, and digital technologies.

ICT and Digital Technologies – are they different?

By Martin Levins, Curriculum Officer (Digital Technologies in focus)

Information and communications technology (ICT) is great. I love the idea that I can create images, draw, make movies and music – which I could not do without digital assistance. I love that I can take measurements of my income and expenses, or perhaps plot the success of my students in achieving their goals as charts or graphs, which are easier to understand at a glance.

I’m constantly amazed by the fact that I can reach out virtually immediately to family, friends and communities using social media, messaging, email, and, yes, sometimes, even voice.

That’s why I love ICT.

ICT Capability is one of the seven general capabilities within the Australian Curriculum and is recognised as essential to all disciplines. It’s hard to find any workplace or field of thought where a computer doesn’t figure. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine our daily lives without ICT.

ICT can contribute to the solution to a problem – by using video or presentation software to communicate emotions, ideas and concepts, by using a word or ideas processor to outline ideas so that a perfect essay can be constructed, by using spreadsheets to show trends in data or by simulating ‘what-ifs’ so I can work out if I can afford a holiday.

Students can become scientists, sustainability champions and agronomists. 

However, as useful as it is, ICT can’t directly provide digital solutions.

Hence the need for a new subject: the Digital Technologies curriculum, which helps make visible the actions of ICT: How does that thing work? How can I wrangle a solution? How does my world work?

In my view, this last question is the key to the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. I don’t want to be a passive plaything of social media algorithms, a victim of “Your call is important to us, press 1 for…” systems that don’t give you what you want. I don’t want to be a hapless, passive wanderer in our digital world.

Digital Technologies gives me the hands-on experience in understanding how my world works and how I can control aspects of it.

It also empowers me. I can make things happen, I can get some appreciation of how my phone works, and I have another way of thinking through problems.

Seeing children developing a game in Scratch, and having to understand the mathematics of coordinate geometry, of variables, of logic, and to do so in context, is a powerful thing.

Similarly, when a class applies design thinking to the running of their kitchen garden and decides that automation is the solution to water management, Digital Technologies comes to the fore.

Having Years 5 and 6 students design soil moisture sensors and then program an inexpensive device to respond to low water by flashing a light or turning on a pump is well within their abilities and the scope of the Digital Technologies curriculum.

Years 5 and 6 students can now become data scientists, sustainability champions and agronomists as they provide solutions for their younger schoolmates who are tending the garden.

How empowering is that?

That’s why I love Digital Technologies.

We’d love to hear your thoughts: email us at [email protected]