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Digital Transformation vs Digital Technologies Curriculum

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

How DTHM fits into a wider digital transformation

What is e-learning? It’s not just replacing exercise books with word documents and physical textbooks with e-books, nor is it switching out classrooms for zoom calls. The goal is to create a digital transformation in kura which will see students equipped for futures in which digital technology plays a major role.

Kaiako in Aotearoa will be familiar with DTHM, or the Digital Technologies | Hangarau Matihiko section of the curriculum which has been rolled out over the past few years. This important new concept, now enshrined in the curriculum, will help to prepare students for those digital futures we mentioned. However, it does not comprise or cover the entirety of e-learning or the digital transformation. In this article we’re demystifying e-learning and DTHM; how they are different and what they both hope to achieve.


The four dimensions of a digital transformation

For us and for most digital leaders in the education field in Aotearoa, e-learning is a mission to create a digital transformation in kura, equipping tamariki and rangatahi for a future in which digital technologies are omnipresent and intertwined with much of everyday life.

Here are the four dimensions:

Digital fluency

This is all about upskilling educators in digital platforms that will serve them in the classroom. Most schools have systems that they use for teaching, for keeping track of attendance, and for an array of everyday activities that were previously done by other methods. It’s important that teachers new and old are confident and competent in how to use these.

If you’ve read our article on TPACK, this is “TK”, the “Technological Knowledge”: how to use digital tools (not specifically related to teaching).

e-Learning pedagogy

Whatever the subject matter, digital tools ranging from video editing software to Google Classrooms to a simple Powerpoint presentation can enhance learning within the classroom—or bring it to students who can’t be in the classroom, as we’ve learnt by immersion recently. But how do we make sure it’s worthwhile and leads to richer and deeper learning experiences?

This is the pedagogical portion of a digital transformation. We want to see kaiako equipped to teach in a digital world, using what’s available to them to their best advantage.

If you’ve read our article on TPACK, this is “TPK”, the “Technological Pedagogical Knowledge” – how to use digital tools to teach effectively.

Digital safety

With so much learning, work, socialisation, and other interaction moving online, it’s crucial that students are kept safe in digital environments. In addition to setting safeguards where possible, this includes teaching them how to protect themselves.

Passwords, cyber bullying, antivirus softwares, safe conduct, information privacy—there’s a lot to consider!

Digital Technologies curriculum (DTHM)

Recently made compulsory for all subjects in years 1-10, this curriculum incorporates two concepts into all subjects: computational thinking and designing and developing digital outcomes. It is intended to help students harness the power of technology to support and improve their learning—to turn students into creators, not just consumers of technology.

This is curriculum content in the NZC, in the Technology area, but all teachers are expected to include it in their teaching programmes (see below for details).


DTHM demystified

Part of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa for several years now, this curriculum content has taken a while to be implemented fully, with COVID disruptions giving kaiako bigger fish to fry.

While incorporating the DTHM into lessons can seem like a chore, it’s an important part of equipping students for success in the modern world and workplace. The push is now on to get this properly underway—so here is a basic breakdown of the two digital learning concepts and how they are beneficial.

Computational thinking

This helps students to develop an understanding of how tasks can be broken down into unambiguous, clearly defined steps—like an algorithm—and iterated to identify bugs.

A grasp of computational thinking will equip them with the ability to utilise technology, with its binary information storage and logic algorithms, to solve real-world problems. This is the very basics of computer programming, but it is applicable and relevant to many other applications.

Designing and developing digital outcomes

The second concept in the DTHM curriculum content, this is about students being able to use various technology tools to meet challenges, communicate clearly, and create specific outcomes. They should be able to identify and use various devices, applications, and software to design, create, test, and evaluate digital content.

We’ve delved deeper into designing and developing digital outcomes previously—so take a look at our blog post on the topic for more information.

Both of these curriculum areas have multiple progress outcomes for different levels of learning, and will be woven into all subjects from years 1-10. The goal of this addition is to create digitally capable individuals who can use tech tools to their best advantage to learn, work, solve problems, and create. The “Decoded for Learners” series on the subject, created by Raranga Matihiko, is a fantastic in-depth guide.


ICT leaders are those tasked with steering the ship of e-learning in their schools. While this does include the Digital Technologies curriculum and helping teachers to understand and implement this within their subject area, that’s just one element of the bigger picture.

To learn more about e-learning in Aotearoa and equip your people for digital transformation, get in touch with the Think e-Learning team.


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