"Computational thinking" and "designing and developing digital outcomes" will become part of New Zealand's core curriculum for all children in the first 10 years of school from next year.
Prime Minister Bill English and Education Minister Nikki Kaye visited Newmarket School in Auckland today to unveil a $40 million package to retrain teachers and help schools implement the new curriculum subjects, including a "national digital championship" modelled on an Israeli example.
"All young people from Years 1 to 10 will take part in digital technologies learning," Kaye said.
"Students [in Years 11 to 13] choosing digital technologies pathways for NCEA will develop the more specialised skills that industry partners say are in high demand, through new achievement standards being developed for NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3."
The changes, signalled last year by former Education Minister Hekia Parata, expand the existing technology subject and are the first changes to the NZ curriculum since 2007.
Today's detailed proposal for two new subject areas is open for consultation until the end of August. Schools will be able to use the new content from next January and the new curriculum will come into full use from the start of 2020.
Kaye said Computational Thinking "is about understanding the computer science principles that underlie all digital technologies, and learning how to develop instructions, such as programming, to control these technologies".
Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes "is about understanding that digital systems and applications are created for humans by humans, and developing knowledge and skills in using different digital technologies to create digital content across a range of digital media".
"This part of the curriculum also includes learning about the electronic components and techniques used to design digital devices," she said.
"Robotics, artificial intelligence and advances in connectivity are all revolutionising our world, including our businesses, industry and community.
"From New Zealand's work in movie-making to Rocket Lab launching rockets into outer space, world-class technology is playing a major role.
"The new curriculum content is about ensuring that students across all year levels have access to rich learning aimed at building their digital skills and fluency, to prepare them for this world."
Kaye said the $40 million support package would include $24 million to "upskill" more than 40,000 teachers.
Another $7 million will be spent on developing online learning and exams, video and audio streaming content and apps.
The Government will put $6 million into a "Digital Technology for All Equity Fund" to support in-school and out-of-school learning opportunities for up to 12,500 students each year, with a focus on ensuring access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
About $1.2 million will go towards a "national digital championship", with potential contributions from industry partners, "aimed at exciting students to use digital technologies to come up with innovative ways to solve community, social or environmental challenges".
"For the digital championship, we will look at models adopted by other countries, including Israel," Kaye said.
There will also be around $330,000 in $1000 scholarships from the Ministry of Youth Development, to support young people to develop innovative enterprises, including products or businesses, that have a digital focus.
Kaye said it was "important to understand how digital technologies are impacting society and our education system".
"I've asked the Prime Minister's chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, and the education science adviser Professor Stuart McNaughton, to undertake work to ensure we continue to fully understand this impact, including how digital technologies may affect young people's writing and communication skills," she said.
Dr David Parsons of the Mindlab by Unitec said "computational thinking" could be taught in ways appropriate for each age group.
"Lots of kids are using programming languages like Scratch, which is quite visual and is very popular in primary schools," he said.
"[Older] kids who are wanting to become software engineers will have to continue with programming languages like Python and Java Script."
He said using a national championship to apply digital technologies to real-world social and economic problems was also "an excellent idea".
"A lot of the thinking is that if you are going to teach kids this kind of stuff, it needs to be about real-world problem solving," he said.