Digital Technologies

Te Aka Pouhoko, Pouoha Tōpū O Aotearoa

Digital Technologies Profile

The purpose of this statement is to provide members with NZCETA policy on Digital Technologies in secondary schools. It can be used to:

  • Provide input to the development of an individual school’s policy statement;
  • Provide information to be used in curriculum co-ordination exercises;
  • Develop an individual school’s prospectus and curriculum programmes;
  • Provide information for use with students, parents and the wider school community.


The term Digital Technologies is used to describe the use of digital tools, knowledge and skills to effectively find, analyse, store, manipulate, create, share and use information in a digital context. This encompasses the use of digital media tools, online tools, computer programming tools, electronic and robotic tools and a wide range of software applications.

At present the terms “Computing, Information Technology or Information Management “are used to describe

Rationale NZCETA will use the generic title of “Digital Technologies” to categorize the wide variety of resources that support the teaching of Computational Thinking and/or Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes. This title will be used as an umbrella term to describe the variety of computer based programmes of learning being offered within schools. This will include subject titles such as: Digital Media, Computer Science, Electronics, and Digital Information.

Globalisation and technological change are two key features that are changing and shaping our lives. Robotics, artificial intelligence and advances in connectivity are all revolutionising our world, including our educational environment, businesses, industry and our communities. The jobs and social roles that people move into once they leave school are constantly evolving as a consequence of social, economic, and technological developments. In an increasingly globalised, interconnected, and interdependent world, people who are able to work confidently in digital environments and with knowledge are seen as a key resource1.

The New Zealand curriculum needs to keep pace with this fast-changing world and the strengthening of the positioning of Digital Technologies in The New Zealand Curriculum is one action to support this2. The new curriculum content sets out what students need to learn to become not just fluent users, but also skilled creators, of digital innovations and inventions.

To participate in this future focused digital era, students will need to be able to adapt to change, to think critically and creatively, to be resilient, work collaboratively to solve problems and share ideas and feedback, use online project management tools to plan, design, monitor, test, report, and collaborate when designing user-oriented environments and outcomes. They will also be expected to apply real-time thinking skills (the ability to process large amounts of stimuli at one time as in online gaming or online learning) in digital environments. In essence, students need to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to work, live and learn in a digital society.

The development of these skills in a robust, well-structured Digital Technologies programme will allow students to not only develop a growing variety of digital literacy skills (technical, cognitive, and socio-emotional competencies) but to confidently and competently perform tasks and solve problems in a diverse range of digital environments and contexts. These skills will place students well for the digital workplace and a digital economy.

Links with the New Zealand Curriculum Digital Technologies contributes to the Technology Learning Area, as well as aspects from all of the other learning areas through the use of digital tools to access, extract, develop, design, test, model and/or implement digital outcomes. For example, English, mathematics, the sciences, the disciplines within The Arts area, the social sciences – including media studies and physical education.

Digital Technologies will address the New Zealand Curriculum requirements relating to the Principles, Values, and Key Competencies (Thinking; Using language, symbols and texts; Managing self; Relating to others; Participating and contributing): as well as the individual school’s Mission Statement and Strategic Goals.

1 Ministry of Education (2012) A curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity. New Zealand Curriculum update 26, October 2012.

2 Source: Hon Kaye, Nikki. (2017). Digital curriculum changes connect young people to the future. Retrieved March 25, 2018, from

Digital Technologies Landscape

The New Zealand Curriculum is a statement of official policy relating to teaching and learning in English-medium New Zealand schools. Its principal function is to set the direction for student learning and to provide guidance for schools as they design and review their curriculum. The New Zealand Curriculum applies to all English-medium state schools (including integrated schools) and to all students in those schools, irrespective of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, belief, ability or disability, social or cultural background, or geographical location. The term “students” is used throughout in this inclusive sense unless the context clearly relates to a particular group. (source: NZ Curriculum Online)

To read more about the New Zealand Curriculum visit the NZ Curriculum website

The Technology Learning Area statement has been revised to strengthen the positioning of Digital Technologies in The New Zealand Curriculum. The goal of this change is to ensure that all learners have the opportunity to become digitally capable individuals. This change signals the need for greater focus on our students building their skills so they can be innovative creators of digital solutions, moving beyond solely being users and consumers of digital technologies.

There are five technological areas within the Technology Learning Area, two of which are specifically focused on Digital Technologies. The five areas are:

  • computational thinking for digital technologies
  • designing and developing digital outcomes
  • designing and developing materials outcomes
  • designing and developing processed outcomes
  • design and visual communication.


The first two of the five technological areas focus on developing students’ capability to create digital technologies outcomes for specific purposes.  These two areas contribute significantly to students developing the knowledge and skills they need as digital citizens and as users of digital technologies across the curriculum.

They also provide opportunities to further develop their key competencies.

Computational Thinking for Digital Technologies – Students will develop computational and algorithmic thinking skills, and an understanding of the computer science principles that underlie all digital technologies. They’ll learn core programming concepts so that they can become creators of digital technologies, not just users. They become aware of what is, and is not, possible with computing, how to apply computer programming concepts to write code to take advantage of the capabilities of a computer, and to express problems, and formulate solutions in a way that means a computer can be used to solve them.

Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes – Students develop increasingly sophisticated understandings and skills related to designing and producing quality, fit-for-purpose, digital outcomes.

They develop their understanding of the digital information technologies that people need in order to locate, analyse, evaluate, and present digital information efficiently, effectively, and ethically.  They also learn about the way electronic components and techniques are used to design digital devices, and become increasingly skilled in integrating electronic components and techniques to assemble and test an electronic environment.

As you will note, a greater emphasis is being placed on learning in and about digital technologies, and all students should be provided with the opportunity to become confident, critical and innovative creators of digital solutions.

All students from years 1-10 will take part in digital technologies learning. Students choosing digital technologies pathways for NCEA will develop the more specialised skills that industry partners say are in high demand, through the new achievement standards that have been developed for NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3.

In years 1–8, the two DT areas are generally implemented within other curriculum learning areas, integrating technological outcomes with the learning area outcomes.

By the end of year 10, students’ digital technological knowledge and skills enable them to follow a predetermined process to design, develop, store, test and evaluate digital content to address a given issue. Throughout this process, students take into account immediate social and end-user considerations. They can independently decompose a computational problem into an algorithm that they use to create a program incorporating inputs, outputs, sequence, selection and iteration. They understand the role of systems in managing digital devices, security and application software, and they are able to apply file management conventions using a range of storage devices.

By the end of year 13, students who have specialised in digital technologies will design and develop fit-for-purpose digital outcomes, drawing on their knowledge of a range of digital applications and systems and taking into account a synthesis of social, ethical and end-user considerations. They understand how areas of computer science such as network communication protocols and artificial intelligence are underpinned by algorithms, data representation and programming, and they analyse how these are synthesised in real world applications. They use accepted software engineering methodologies to design, develop, document and test complex computer programs.

The two digital technologies areas use Progress Outcomes instead of Achievement Objectives to measure the learning and progress of students.

Progress outcomes clearly describe the significant steps learners take as they progress in Digital Technologies from school entry to the end of Year 13. For example, when looking at programming the initial progress outcomes identify that students start by learning to program simple instructions in-person (such as stepping out a set of actions). The subsequent progress outcomes describe how this learning progresses over time, for example students can develop software programmes, interactive games, program robots or create online ordering systems. Most of the time, the learning between each progress outcome is varied because it takes longer for the student to grasp that critical knowledge and/or skill. This explains the gaps in the progress outcomes.

The Progress Outcomes prompt teachers to notice what students know and can do. They support teachers to understand how students develop their conceptual knowledge and understanding in digital technologies.

Work towards progress outcomes in computational thinking and designing and developing digital outcomes should build each year in order to ensure learners achieve all of the significant learning steps.

Many teachers, schools, kura and Kāhui Ako are already making digital technologies learning part of their teaching programmes. This change ensures that all learners get these experiences, to prepare them for a world where digital skills are increasingly valuable to the economy and wider society.

All schools will be expected to fully integrate the revised learning area into their curriculum by the start of the 2020 school year.

Links and Resources:

To read more about the three technology stands visit the learning area page on Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI).

Read more about the Digital Technologies Progress Outcomes by visiting the Technology Progress Outcomes page on TKI.

To view the diagram which illustrates the structure of the learning area – visit the Technology page on TKI.

View examples of DT teaching and learning programmes and other resources on the Technology Online page

Achievement Standards

A list of the subject areas and access to the achievement standards for each subject area within the technology learning area can be accessed via the NZQA website. View the Technology subject areas and Generic Technology Achievement Standards on the NZQA Website

There are 11 Level One Digital Technologies Achievement Standards. 

Access the Level One Digital Technologies Achievement Standards here

A breakdown/descriptor of each Level One Achievement Standard can be found here

Assessment Specifications – these are published in March of every year and they detail any specific details about the Achievement Standard and prior year’s assessment reports the national moderators’ reports.  These are available at each level on the NZQA website.

Teaching and Learning Programmes – these outlines of teaching and learning programmes have been developed to support teachers who are choosing to assess using the new achievement standards.