Unpack the Curriculum

Understand the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies

Band 9-10
Band Description

Learning in Digital Technologies focuses on further developing understanding and skills in computational thinking such as precisely and accurately describing problems and the use of modular approaches to solutions. It also focuses on engaging students with specialised learning in preparation for vocational training or learning in the senior secondary years.

By the end of Year 10, students will have had opportunities to analyse problems and design, implement and evaluate a range of digital solutions, such as database-driven websites and artificial intelligence engines and simulations.

In Year 9 and 10, students consider how human interaction with networked systems introduces complexities surrounding access to, and the security and privacy of, data of various types. They interrogate security practices and techniques used to compress data, and learn about the importance of separating content, presentation and behavioural elements for data integrity and maintenance purposes.

Students explore how bias can impact the results and value of data collection methods and they use structured data to analyse, visualise, model and evaluate objects and events.

They learn how to develop multilevel abstractions, identify standard elements such as searching and sorting in algorithms, and explore the trade-offs between the simplicity of a model and the faithfulness of its representation.

When defining problems students consider the functional and non-functional requirements of a solution through interacting with clients and regularly reviewing processes. They consolidate their algorithmic design skills to incorporate testing and review, and further develop their understanding of the user experience to incorporate a wider variety of user needs. Students develop modular solutions to complex problems using an object-oriented programming language where appropriate, and evaluate their solutions and existing information systems based on a broad set of criteria including connections to existing policies and their enterprise potential. They consider the privacy and security implications of how data are used and controlled, and suggest how policies and practices can be improved to ensure the sustainability and safety of information systems.

Students progressively become more skilled at identifying the steps involved in planning solutions and developing detailed plans that are mindful of risks and sustainability requirements. When creating solutions, both individually and collaboratively, students comply with legal obligations, particularly with respect to the ownership of information, and when creating interactive solutions for sharing in online environments.

Achievement Standard

By the end of Year 10, students explain the control and management of networked digital systems and the security implications of the interaction between hardware, software and users. They explain simple data compression, and why content data are separated from presentation.

Students plan and manage digital projects using an iterative approach. They define and decompose complex problems in terms of functional and non-functional requirements. Students design and evaluate user experiences and algorithms. They design and implement modular programs, including an object-oriented program, using algorithms and data structures involving modular functions that reflect the relationships of real-world data and data entities. They take account of privacy and security requirements when selecting and validating data. Students test and predict results and implement digital solutions. They evaluate information systems and their solutions in terms of risk, sustainability and potential for innovation and enterprise. They share and collaborate online, establishing protocols for the use, transmission and maintenance of data and projects.

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Hiding details of an idea, problem or solution that are not relevant, to focus on a manageable number of aspects.

Abstraction does not appear explicitly in the content descriptions.

However, abstraction underpins the design and progression of content descriptions between band levels for each concept.

Digital systems
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Investigate the role of hardware and software in managing, controlling and securing the movement of and access to data in networked digital systems (ACTDIK034)


Systems explores the composition of systems and their use in all aspects of our lives.


Networks describes how we connect systems together and use them to transmit data.


Security is concerned with how we protect the data stored in and transmitted by systems.

Operating systems

Software that manages the hardware and software resources of a digital system.

Students explain how the operating system hides the complexity of different hardware from applications (e.g. applications can treat input from a mouse and touchscreen in the same way).

Connecting digital systems

Different systems can be connected to one another to exchange information.

Students configure a simple network using real or simulated hardware (e.g. switches, routers, and networked devices) and observe packets moving around the network.

Transmit data

Send and receive data to and from digital systems.

Students explain how domain names and IP addresses (e.g. DNS and routing tables) allow data to be transmitted to specific networked devices.


Cryptography allows a message to be securely stored and transmitted.

Students explore how public key cryptography (e.g. TLS) and hashing (e.g. SHA-1) secure the storage and transmission of data.

Access control

Restricting access to hardware, software and/or data for authorised users only.

Students describe elements of access control (e.g. authentication, permissions, etc.) and explain why they are necessary (e.g. restricting access to install software to administrators).

Data representation
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Analyse simple compression of data and how content data are separated from presentation (ACTDIK035)


Representation explores how we model, construct and describe data.

Data types

Data types describe the internal representation of data in digital systems and the operations that can be performed on it.


Data can be compressed by removing redundancy without loss of information.

Students use an algorithm to identify patterns in data (e.g. repeated pixels in an image) and represent them in a compressed way (e.g. run-length encoding).

Document representation

A document can be described by its content and how it is presented.

Students represent documents by separating content and presentation (e.g. HTML and CSS) and explain why this separation is important.

Data collection
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Develop techniques for acquiring, storing and validating quantitative and qualitative data from a range of sources, considering privacy and security requirements (ACTDIP036)

Acquire data

Acquire data examines how we collect and access data from a variety of sources.

Manage data

Manage data is concerned with the processes we use to facilitate how we use data.

Acquire data

Gather new data and obtain existing data.

Students develop systems (e.g. a movie or travel review website) that acquire quantitative (e.g. Likert scale and ratings) and qualitative (e.g. written review and user comments) data.

Store data

Record data in ways that allows it to be easily accessed and manipulated.

Students develop systems that store structured data (e.g. a movie or travel review database) for access and manipulation (e.g. creation and presentation of user reviews).

Validate data

Ensure data is correct and meaningful for the question being answered.

Students develop systems that check data is correct and meaningful (e.g. are reviews representative and trustworthy?) using automated techniques (e.g. types, rules, and UI elements) and manual analysis (e.g. detecting bias and fake reviews).

Data interpretation
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Analyse and visualise data to create information and address complex problems, and model processes, entities and their relationships using structured data (ACTDIP037)

Organise data

Organise data explores the ways we order, sort and arrange data to assist us with interpretation in different contexts.

Visualise data

Visualise data describes the many ways we present data in its raw and summarised form for communication and further analysis.

Analyse data

Summarise data and infer relationships and trends to create information.

Students summarise data, its attributes, and their relationships (e.g. electorates and their demographics) and identify trends and outliers (e.g. national swings and exceptions) to draw conclusions and make predictions (e.g. predicting the election outcome).

Model data

Model objects and events in terms of their attributes.

Students model entities and processes (e.g. a movie, a user, and their movie review), their attributes (e.g. a movie has a title, genre, and release date), and the relationships between them (e.g. a review has a movie, a user, and their rating and comments).

Visualise data

Present data to reveal patterns, trends, outliers, or other information.

Students develop interactive visualisations (e.g. population, life expectancy and fertility rate in motion charts) for exploring complex data.

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Define and decompose real-world problems precisely, taking into account functional and non-functional requirements and including interviewing stakeholders to identify needs (ACTDIP038)

Problem definition

Problem definition is the process we follow and considerations we make to determine and describe the problems we intend to solve.


Constraints describe the restricting factors we face when solving problems, and how we factor these into our planned solutions.


Decomposition is the process of breaking a problem into more manageable pieces so it can be understood and solved.

Describe problems

Determining the nature and description of a problem to be solved.

Students define the problem more exactly (e.g. how do we encourage people to balance their energy intake and expenditure?) with some awareness of scope (e.g. can this be solved in 4 weeks of class time?)

Stakeholder input

Asking the range of people affected by a problem to describe their needs.

Students recognise the importance of diverse perspectives when defining the problem (e.g. what types of exercise count?) and devise survey or interview questions to elicit stakeholder needs (e.g. allowing open-ended responses to the exercise they do).

Requirements and constraints

What a solution is required to do to solve the problem, and the constraints on that solution.

Students describe what a solution needs to do to solve a problem and the contraints on that solution (e.g. in a product pitch). Non-functional requirements include: economic (e.g. is there a market for the product?), environmental (e.g. is the solution energy efficient and sustainable?), social (e.g. what are the legal and ethical considerations?), technical (e.g. can this be built with existing web frameworks?), and usability (e.g. how will this work for people with a vision impairment)

Decompose problems

Breaking a problem down into simpler parts until they can be solved.

Students ask questions that help them define the problem more precisely (e.g. how do we measure energy intake? How much energy does each exercise expend?)

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Design algorithms represented diagrammatically and in structured English and validate algorithms and programs through tracing and test cases (ACTDIP040)

Follow algorithms

Follow algorithms is the process of performing the steps required to solve a problem.

Design algorithms

Design algorithms captures the solution design we undertake to develop an automated solution to a problem.

Algorithm constructs

Algorithm constructs are the building blocks we use to define our algorithms in a form digital systems can execute.

Trace algorithms

Desk check (track the state of) an algorithm to determine output for a given input.

Students trace and debug an algorithm by identifying when its state is unexpected, why this has occurred, and the changes needed to correct it (e.g. identifying that a loop has finished one iteration too early).

Represent algorithms

Represent a clear, ordered sequence of steps and decisions using words and images.

Students describe algorithms precisely and succinctly using pseudocode (e.g. short, unambiguous statements such as if length of word is greater than 4 and first letter is a vowel) and appropriate diagram types (e.g. a decision-tree for classifying an animal based on physical characteristics).

Test algorithms

Define the expected (correct) output for given input and check an algorithm against it.

Students determine boundary test cases and test that they are handled correctly by the algorithm (e.g. checking that an intersection is detected when two shapes are perfectly aligned).

Design and modify algorithms

Design an algorithm, or modify an existing one, to fix an error or change functionality.

Students design an algorithm (e.g. to detect if two shapes intersect) or understand and modify an existing algorithm to fix an error (e.g. not detecting when shapes just touch), extend functionality (e.g. support a new shape), or improve the algorithm (e.g. make it more efficient or elegant).

Control structures

Control structures (e.g. branching and iteration) determine the steps taken in an algorithm.

Students use Boolean operations (i.e. AND, OR and NOT) to express complex conditions in control structures (e.g. if [the temperature is above 30 degrees AND people are inside the building] then open the windows).

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Implement modular programs, applying selected algorithms and data structures including using an object-oriented programming language (ACTDIP041)

Digital Solutions

Digital solutions are computer programs implemented with a programming language (code).

Programming constructs

Programming constructs are the fundamental principles of program control flow we use in programming languages.

Programming paradigms

Programming paradigms are the underlying philosophies and approaches that are used in the structure of computer programs.

Implement Digital Solutions

Translate an algorithm into a program (code) for a computer to run. Coding is a synonym for computer programming.

Students can write original code that solves defined problems for the general case correctly.

Test Digital Solutions

Define the expected (correct) behaviour for given input and check a program against it.

Students systematically debug a program by defining expected behaviour, running the program, locating errors, modifying the program and verifying that all test cases pass.

Modify Digital Solutions

Edit code in a program to either correct or improve its behaviour.

Students read and interpret substantial programs, and modify the code to change functionality and fix errors.

User Input

Receiving data from the user or environment to change program behaviour.

Students write programs that receives structured data from the user (e.g. from a form or text file) or the environment (e.g. temperature with a timestamp) to change the program behaviour.

Control structures

Control structures (e.g. branching and iteration) determine which code blocks run in a program.

Students write programs involving complex conditional expressions and nested control structures to create sophisticated behaviour.


Separating a program into well-defined, independent modules of code that perform related tasks.

Students can develop programs that are large and complex enough such that the code is split between multiple files. Each file, or module, can then be used in other projects as necessary.

Algorithms and data structures

Generic algorithms and data structures are used to manipulate and store data across a range of problems.

Students are introduced to some well known data structures (e.g. lists and dictionaries) and algorithms (e.g. binary search) and can apply them appropriately in their programs.

Object-oriented programming

In object-oriented programming (OOP), the data describing an entity (the object) is defined together with the functions that manipulate it. OOP languages must support class definition, inheritance and polymorphism.

Students can define their own objects (classes) to model and manage how data is stored and processed. They can use inheritance and polymorphism appropriately in their solutions to simplify their code.

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Evaluate critically how student solutions and existing information systems and policies, take account of future risks and sustainability and provide opportunities for innovation and enterprise (ACTDIP042)

Information systems

Information systems describe the solutions developed by people that make use of data and systems.


Users are the people who benefit from or control information systems.

Evaluation considerations

Evaluation considerations is concerned with how we factor the intended and unintended impacts of our solutions into our designs and implementation strategies.

Student solutions

The answers and products students develop themselves as solutions to problems.

Students can produce their own solutions to problems, but regularly reflect upon and re-evaluate the effectiveness of their solution. Constantly revisiting how well it addresses the problem requirements informs the iterative development process.

Information systems

A combination of digital systems, data, processes, and people that interact to create, control, and communicate information.

Students can critique existing solutions and use this process to identify the common mistakes, shortcomings and/or strengths inherent in systems generally to inform decisions about their own solutions. It also encourages them to think more deeply about their own solutions and how they can improve upon existing ones.


Guiding principles or actions that influence the processes or approaches adopted when addressing problems.

Students can appreciate how policies around the use and application of systems are necessary for the safe and effective use of systems as their complexity increases. Students should be thinking about appropriate guidelines for the use of their solution to ensure the efficacy of the solution and to minimise any potential harmful impacts.

The content descriptions do not explicitly address Users in band 9-10.

A broad interpretation of sustainability looks at many aspects of digital systems that make them viable over the long term, including their environmental impacts, economics and profitability, technical developments and changes, and social perceptions.

Students can analyse the often competing concerns of sustainability (economic, environmental, social etc) and propose an appropriate balance in a solution design. An example may be how economic sustainability often means minimises costs, but doing so may have increased environmental or social consequences. Students understand which factors contribute to how these decisions are made, and should do so through interrogation of existing systems large and small, before applying this thinking to their own ideas.


There are always unintended consequences of developing or introducing new technologies and/or systems, and being able to identify potential problems is key to understanding the impact they are likely to have on individuals, the environment and broader society.

Students can both identify risks, and strategies to mitigate them as best they can in the design and implementation of their solutions. This includes performing risk assessments (although this does not require a formal process) to determine likelihood and consequences, and use this information to decide on an appropriate course of action.

Innovation and enterprise

The application of digital technologies to either new problems, or existing problems in alternative or new ways. The concept of innovation should be interpreted with respect to what students know and understand - innovation for a student could be development of a solution similar to an existing one if the application of the concepts is new for them.

Students can explain how their solutions adopt new or alternative approaches to existing problems as a focus of innovation. This includes looking at why these solutions may not already exist or the challenges facing adoption (e.g. the tech for self-driving cars is developing, but laws and social perceptions will take longer). Students should now be thinking about how they could advance their solutions from being conceptual prototypes to marketable solutions for more widespread adoption. Thinking about the needs the solution serves and how you could market the benefits of this to consumers in a "call to action" to generate interest and excitement becomes the next phase of communicating the benefits of new ideas.

Human–Human Interactions
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Create interactive solutions for sharing ideas and information online, taking into account safety, social contexts and legal responsibilities (ACTDIP043)

Plan and manage projects using an iterative and collaborative approach, identifying risks and considering safety and sustainability (ACTDIP044)

Create information

Creating information involves using digital systems to present ideas and information.

Communicate and collaborate

Communicate and collaborate involves using digital systems to share information and work with others.

Plan and manage

Plan and manage involves organising and controlling processes, people and resources in the development of solutions.

Create ideas and information

Using digital technologies to manipulate data and present a product.

Students can explain how their solutions to problems could be translatable to different domains that share common elements. The design of modular solutions that include components that can be re-used or adapted for use in alternative situations helps demonstrate that ideas and information are translatable across domains.

Interactive solutions

Solutions that provide a direct interface between users, data and the problem they are trying to solve.

Students produce solutions that allow users to access and manipulate data in response to user input (e.g. a website where users can view movies based on review criteria).


Using online tools that facilitate text, audio and video communication to interact with other people working on a common project. A process that involves regular input, criticism and feedback from multiple stakeholders to refine, improve and evaluate proposed solutions.

Students can participate meaningfully in online space in the public realm through the use of relevant collaborative platforms (an example might be Github and StackOverflow for code development). The use of these tools link students with the broader community, giving them a larger audience and allowing them to access expertise and experience beyond the classroom. Student can use a collaborative approach that allows them to work on larger projects where their contributions are focused on key components of a larger solution and must integrate with the work of others. The breadth of expertise and knowledge in the group becomes necessary for the projects success.

Cyber safety

Protecting access to, and interaction with, information in digital solutions.

Students secure user information in the digital solutions they create (e.g. protecting personal information via a login) and the interactions those solutions facilitate (e.g. restricting access to information about other users).

Social and ethical protocols

Agreed behaviours enabling all participants to feel included, respected, and valued when interacting with each other.

Students develop guidelines that allow them to manage the behaviour of their users (e.g. community guidelines for a forum) and apply these guidelines to maintain expected behaviour (e.g. deleting inappropriate posts).


Developing an approach, strategy or identifying sources useful to investigate a problem and/or develop a solution.

Students can use greater detail and explicit strategies during planning that mitigate or avoid potential risks or project delays. Students are aware of the limitations they face around resourcing, time and expertise available, and factor this into their project by including prototyping and MVP deliverables.

Manage projects

Using techniques, strategies and approaches to monitor progress towards development of a solution, and to re-evaluate or alter strategies to ensure deadlines are met and outcomes achieved within the resources available.

Students can use the strategies they are taught to review and update their progress and project expectations regularly throughout the development process. They adapt to external disruptions and influences, and ensure that at the conclusion of the project a solution is delivered that prioritises key functionality requirements.

Iterative approach

A process of rapid prototyping and constant re-evaluation of the efficacy and appropriateness of the solution. Allows for the scope of a problem to be gradually expanded, building upon previous solutions, experiments and ideas.

Students can demonstrate an iterative process of development, designing prototypes and regularly evaluating them and changing their approach as they gather feedback and test the efficacy of their solutions. This reinforces the importance of meeting core requirements, and provides increased opportunity for testing and responding to stakeholder needs.

Risk management

Potential problems or concerns that may expose the solution, developer or user to danger or harm, or could prevent a project from being completed.

Students can describe the risks they are exposed to when working on larger, more public projects, and compare these with similar risks typically faced by small development teams. These include resourcing, privacy and security risks, as well as those associated with online collaboration and publishing. They should be developing strategies for both avoidance and mitigation, and be selecting the most relevant approaches within the context of their project.

Human–Computer Interactions
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Design the user experience of a digital system by evaluating alternative designs against criteria including functionality, accessibility, usability, and aesthetics (ACTDIP039)

User experience

User experience goes beyond user interfaces to encompass a user's perceptions and responses when interacting with a digital system.

Evaluate designs

Evaluate designs describes the considerations and design decisions we make when designing digital systems.

User Interfaces

Characteristics and elements of the digital system that determine how the user interacts with it. Includes things like buttons and prompts for text entry.

Students can design engaging user experiences, considering aesthetics, functionality and the feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction of the user. Students do this through more rigorous user testing by interviewing stakeholders specifically about their experiences and using that to inform changes and improvements to the UX design.

User Experience

Encompasses all details of how a user interacts with the system, not just the physical or on-screen elements. Considers the practical aspects such as ease of use, as well as emotive aspects such as how enjoyable it is to use.

Students can design engaging user experiences, considering aesthetics, functionality and the feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction of the user. Students do this through more rigorous user testing by interviewing stakeholders specifically about their experiences and using that to inform changes and improvements to the UX design.

Evaluating designs

Comparing and contrasting different approaches or solutions to a problem in a systematic way to determine the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Students can critique the efficacy of solutions using the information gathered from users against the requirements and criteria they have established as a measure of success. The evaluation of the suitability and effectiveness of a design includes direct comparisons between alternatives as well as against objective criteria.

Evaluation criteria

A set of explicit, measurable and observable benchmarks that can be used to determine the success of a solution against a set of requirements.

Students can engage in a more formalised process to establish the objective criteria they will use to determine the suitability of a design. This involves setting measurable indicators against the functional requirements as specified in the problem definition, accessibility and usability factors specifically identified as important to the target user group, and aesthetic elements that incorporate social and audience expectations.