The new digital curriculum is far from perfect; but it is what we have for the moment and, given how difficult it has been to get even this far, it’s not likely to change. One of my many criticisms of the curriculum is that there are too many opportunities for schools and teachers to pay lip-service to teaching coding – not through any ill-will but simply because there are hardly any teachers with the required skills to do the job properly. The amount of money currently being talked about for training is risible and will clearly not make any appreciable difference, even assuming you could find the bodies to train.
On the other hand this new curriculum presents an opportunity to seriously look at teaching approaches. This is a real opportunity to properly flip the classroom. To have deep and effective online courses available to students, backed up by a small pool of trained teachers available online to provide answers to sticking-points, and with classroom teachers available to keep the classes on track and help as they are able.
This sort of flipped classroom is talked about a lot. But the digital curriculum is clearly a place where it should be implemented: Not least because the web is now littered with examples of online coding courses to use as templates for a course tailored to the Australian curriculum.
The obvious and significant advantage to students is that they are presented with materials by highly trained teachers backed up by the resources to make the course engaging and enjoyable. That’s all possible because you have one team doing the job, one-time, really effectively. From the school’s point of view they don’t have to retrain teachers. And from the government’s point of view they get students getting the same course, to the same standard, throughout the country for a comparatively small investment.
Using a flipped classroom approach isn’t just an opportunity offered by the new digital curriculum: It is absolutely essential to making the whole thing work.