top of page

Computational thinking for Digital Technologies

Computational thinking enables students to express problems and formulate solutions in ways that means a computer (an information processing agent) can be used to solve them.

In this area, students develop algorithmic thinking skills and an understanding of the computer science principles that underpin all digital technologies. They become aware of what is and isn’t possible with computing, allowing them to make judgments and informed decisions as citizens of the digital world.

Students learn core programming concepts and how to take advantage of the capabilities of computers, so that they can become creators of digital technologies, not just users. They develop an understanding of:

  • how computer data is stored

  • how all the information within a computer system is presented using binary digits

  • the impact that different data representations have on the nature and use of this information.

NZC Online | Technology

While it might seem daunting, the pace of learning isn't fast.


Early learning in this area involves:

  • Working in an unplugged (non-computerised) environment

  • Teaching some basic concepts, which can be worked into other learning areas.

  • Ākonga start by breaking tasks into simple, unambiguous steps. Those steps are given to someone/something else to perform. Any bugs or mistakes go back to the programmer to fix.

By year 5/6(ish) ākonga will start to practice their skills in simple age-appropriate computerised environments (as well as unplugged environments). The idea of outputs is introduced.

Intermediate aged ākonga are writing and debugging simple programs. They are introduced to the idea of inputs, and loops (repeating instructions).

In years 9 & 10 ākonga learn about if-statements and variables. They are able to write simple programes to accomplish a task.

Getting up to speed with computational thinking

What is computational thinking?

The best resources for getting up to speed are on the Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko website. There are a series of pīkau/toolkits focusing on many aspects of computational thinking right up from Y0-1, up to first year NCEA. They are well explained, engaging and specifically tailored to the NZ curriculum and our context here in Aotearoa.

Toolkits take 45–60 minutes to complete, and don't have to be completed in any particular order (although some of the knowledge does build from pīkau to pīkau).


Other places to get information and resources are:

  • Technology Online: Official support for the Technology learning area. The progress outcomes, exemplars and snapshots are all available.

  • Enabling e-Learning: Information and links to resources, as well as stories of practice. Well worth an explore.

  • CS Field Guide: Designed for NCEA students, but with a lot of good information for mid-late primary students too. They have a large collection of interactive components to demonstrate various concepts.

  • Help me find a teaching resource: A huge page of information aimed at teachers in Victoria. Much is relevant to New Zealand too, and can be adapted for Kiwi classrooms.

  • Computational Thinking: Resources to support teaching of computational thinking in the Australian curriculum. Lots of relevant information and resources, but they'll need to be adapted for Kiwi classrooms.

Kāhui Ako resources

All day workshop Y1-2 (for teachers).jpg
All day workshop Y1-2 (for teachers).jpg
All day workshop Y1-2 (for teachers).jpg
All day workshop Y1-2 (for teachers).jpg

Computational thinking resources

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 10.01.30

Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko

NZ's official digital readiness site

Many tools and resouces released by the Ministry of Education. Requires a free login

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 10.03.36

DTHM 4 Kaiako

Curated resources for NZ teachers

A site maintained and curated by Digital Technology teachers Aotearoa (DTTA) & the University of Canterbury

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 10.06.33

Barefoot computing

UK based resources

Resources including lessons, posters and interactives to adapt to Kiwi classrooms. Requires a free login

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 10.13.42

Teaching London Computing

UK based unplugged activities

Supporting schools, both in London and globally, to provide outstanding and fun computing education.

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 10.14.38

CS Unplugged

NZ based unplugged activities

Prof Tim Bell & his team have spent 20 years researching how to teach computer science to kids. Their solution? Get rid of the computer!

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 10.19.28

Computer Science 4 Fun

UK based resouces

Resources include stories, games, thought experiments and magic tricks. Lots to explore!

bottom of page