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What is the difference between ICT and Digital Technologies?

Did you know that ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology?

ICT in education means teaching and learning with ICT.

The Australian Curriculum explains why ICT is an important feature in the school curriculum:

In the Australian Curriculum, students develop Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access, create and communicate information and ideas, solve problems and work collaboratively in all learning areas at school and in their lives beyond school. ICT capability involves students learning to make the most of the digital technologies available to them, adapting to new ways of doing things as technologies evolve and limiting the risks to themselves and others in a digital environment.

In terms of Digital Technologies, the Australian Curriculum aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to ensure that, individually and collaboratively, students:

  • investigate, design, plan, manage, create and evaluate solutions
  • are creative, innovative and enterprising when using traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies, and understand how technologies have developed over time
  • make informed and ethical decisions about the role, impact and use of technologies in the economy, environment and society for a sustainable future
  • engage confidently with and responsibly select and manipulate appropriate technologies − materials, data, systems, components, tools and equipment − when designing and creating solutions
  • critique, analyse and evaluate problems, needs or opportunities to identify and create solutions.

Key Differences

ICT capability enables students to effectively use ICT and understand how to use them, for example, if you were creating a presentation, you would use Power Point or Key Note. It also includes safe use and good online practices.

So, ICT is about understanding how to use the ICT capabilities whereas digital technologies is about understanding HOW those capabilities are created, and developing a literacy in coding which underpins the ability to create technology.

Digital technologies is also about learning the structure of digital systems such as hardware and software.

As explained simply, ICT is knowing how to play a game whereas Digital Technologies is about ‘creating’ the game people play.

Enjoy the Start with Code video (included) produced by Google Australia to understand Why Code?


Do you know the Australian Curriculum for Digital Technologies?

The Australian Curriculum: Technologies describes two distinct but related subjects:

  • Design and Technologies, in which students use design thinking and technologies to generate and produce designed solutions for authentic needs and opportunities
  • Digital Technologies, in which students use computational thinking and information systems to define, design and implement digital solutions.
[Video & Extract: Australian Curriculum]

What are Digital Technologies?

Digital technologies are part of our everyday lives. We use them all the time. We use them for work and at home. They make our lives easier, efficient and incredibly time saving. They help us to make informed decisions on everything from what to wear, when and how we perform daily chores like the washing to the cooking.

Digital Technologies are the handy apps or the computerised washing machines that beeps when the cycle is done to becoming dependent on Siri to ask all sorts of questions like what the weather will be on the day so you know how to dress for the day!

Do the following everyday activities involving digital technologies sound familiar?

  • Wake up by your alarm app on your phone
  • Your toaster beeps when the toast is ready
  • Use your weather app to decide what to wear
  • Know when to hang the washing as your machine plays music when the cycle is finished
  • Check emails on your phone, tablet or laptop
  • Listen to music on your Ipod
  • Budget your finances using a budgeting app
  • Get news alert messages on your phone as events unfold

The list is endless ….. we are very much reliant and dependent on these handy digital technologies to help us live and function every day.

Although many of us are eager users of digital technologies, we have little understanding of HOW they work, and HOW they are actually created.

  • How is a smart phone actually made?
  • How does information get sent to my phone, and a text message like notifications pops up to alert me of breaking news?
  • How can we become creators of digital technologies and not just users?

What’s the change in the Australian curriculum for Digital Technologies?

Previous schooling curriculum focused on digital literacy rather than digital technologies. Digital literacy is more about how we can use digital technology whereas digital technologies is about how we can become creators of digital technology solutions.

There is now a strong awareness for children to understand HOW digital technologies work and HOW they are created, and the underpinning thinking required to develop new digital technologies.

There is a strong emphasis on giving children the opportunity to become not just users of digital technologies but creators of digital technology.

The curriculum features computational thinking which is the way of thinking and problem solving, critical for developing new digital technologies.

Related Reading: Is your child equipped with computational thinking – The skill of the 21st century?

The aim of the national curriculum is to strengthen this way of thinking so that children can solve and think about every day problems effectively, and to also apply them to the creation of digital technologies.

Why learn Digital Technologies?

Digital technologies is not just about sitting in a room playing with a computer – it is so much more than that.

Digital Technologies is about changing the world.

I quote from my studies on digital technologies, an extract:

The study of digital technologies and computational thinking into Australian classrooms ensures that Australian youth move from being users of technology, produced elsewhere, to becoming world leaders in developing new technological innovations and solutions.

Code plays an important role in the creation of digital technologies but more critically, the study of digital technologies equips students to develop fundamental skills that will become crucial for creating code and solutions.

[Source: Learnings from F-6 Digital Technologies: Foundation]