Information Communication Technology Capabilities
The old/current NSW syllabus explicitly states what ICT skills that students need to demonstrate, but it is a bit too specific, and generally pretty redundant (it includes things like creating a document and multimedia presentation). The new NSW syllabus begins integrating ICT from Early Stage 1 and builds upon it up until Year 10. They have mapped out a continuum for spatial technologies (Google Earth, GIS, GPS) and visual representations (photographs, digital presentation tools, etc) which covers most of the ICT skills from the current syllabus but is less restrictive. The continuum is fairly well designed. The only real weakness I can see from a technology perspective is in the area of digital citizenship/online awareness. The current syllabus was modified when mandatory technology components were integrated across KLAs for Stage 5 some years ago. As a result there were some elements of ethical online behaviour that were included. It includes some aspects of online awareness and digital citizenship by requiring students to analyse the ethics of a site and using electronic media ethically. These have largely been dropped from the new syllabus as far as I can see, but I suspect they will be covered in the new mandatory Technology course.
The only other issue that I can really see in relation to technology is the fact that they actually name a program/company in the syllabus (Google Earth). If Google ever merges, or changes the name of Google Earth, then the syllabus will need to be modified to reflect that. Also, if Google changes the way they track user data, requires log ins, etc it may in the future create some problems. It will also date the syllabus if something better and more sophisticated becomes freely available. It is not really a big issue, but I just think it would be better to not actually name the company/program. They could just use a phrase like online geospatial technologies, and then refer to Google Earth in the support material rather than the actual syllabus.
The current syllabus is very specific about the ICT skills that need to covered in Stage 4 and 5. It specifies the type of ICT and the way it should be used. It also includes some aspects of online awareness and digital citizenship by requiring students to analyse the ethics of a site and using electronic media ethically. The new syllabus is much less explicit in stating the basic ICT skills that it wants students and teachers to cover, and it has less emphasis on digital citizenship. The ICT skills included in the proposed new syllabus are much more closely tied to the content of Geography.
Stage 4 Geography currently includes a range of mandatory ICT skills such as creating a desktop-published document, developing internet research techniques, collecting electronic information, creating multimedia presentations, using email, ethical online behaviour and using digital images, sound and multimedia sources to create a webpage. Stage 5 previously included creating a multiple-pages document with web links, designing a simple database, importing data from a range of applications, creating multimedia presentations or webpages, analysing websites (including the ethics of the site) and assessing, collecting and interpreting electronic information. The new syllabus is much less explicit in stating the basic ICT skills that it wants students and teachers to cover. By Stage 5 students are asked to "...use digital tools to organise, present and communicate geographical information..."
In saying that, many of the ICT skills in the current syllabus are quite low-order and it is likely that they will be covered in early stages in the new mandatory Technology course. In addition, the previous syllabus
For the first time the new NSW syllabus incorporates “Spatial Technologies” as a Geographical Tool. Previously geographical tools have included skills like topographic map reading, interpreting graphs, etc. Students will be introduced to the use of Google Earth in ES1 and will continue to develop skills in Google Earth, global positioning systems and geographical information systems up to Stage 5.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the Geoactive text book series.