EDUCATION REVIEW series
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bRING YOUR OWN DEVICE APPROACH
The building is only the beginning Innovative learning starts here tHE RULES OF CODE CLUB
sLAVES TO SERVERS OR HEADS IN THE CLOUD?
Competing with pikachu
Teaching pokÉ-crazed pupils Part of the series:
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’m often guilty of compartmentalising. In following news of political unrest over Brexit, the Syrian crisis, climate change, the rise of Donald Trump, the turmoil of our housing and dairy industries, I often fail to connect the dots of what it all means for New Zealand education. And so I go about putting together my next issue, mentally pushing current events and global trends aside, failing to grasp that the future of education is inextricably linked with the direction our world is taking. By now we all know that today’s students will encounter Jobs That Haven’t Been Invented Yet and New Ways of Working. We know this requires a bold new approach, but at times it is difficult to make the departure from the known to the unknown. Fortunately for young Kiwis, this is very much top of mind for our educators as they grapple with how to deliver an education that is future-focused, exciting and relevant. It’s easy to wrap the future of education up neatly in digital technology – and certainly this is a big and important part of it – but we also need to be mindful of possibilities that might exist beyond coding and robotics. ‘Possibilities’ was actually the theme of the recent #edchatnz conference, which I had the pleasure of attending at the impressive new Rototuna Junior High School in Hamilton. The conference encompassed pedagogy, change leadership, innovative learning environments, collaboration within and across schools, learner agency, digital technologies, and more – all the necessary ingredients required for a forward-facing education. The real excitement lay in the fact that many of the ideas discussed were not merely notional; rather they were tangible concepts emerging in our schools before our very eyes. Inevitably, there are budgets and bureaucracies to contend with at the same time. The challenge for educators is finding a way to continue to grow and develop these ideas in a way that is in step with policy and feasible within the funding envelope. Jude Barback, editor email@example.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Carolyn Alexander-Bennett, Matt Arnott, Kirsty Jones, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Tom Nicholson, Mark Osborne, Angela Roberts, Melissa Schwalger, Elaine Shuck.
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2 bring your own device approach 4 How to get the most out of BYOD? Get infrastructure sorted 5 Caution needed over cols 7 The building is only the beginning technology into the curriculum: master stroke or 8 building missed opportunity 10 the rules of code club 12 Better funding, not bulk funding 14 innovative learning environments: where’s the evidence? 16 Online learning communities: cool idea or not? 17 teaching pokÉ-crazed pupils 18 “just like a game of tennis”: serving on a school board 19 digital disrupion: should we embrace it? 21 Closing the rich-poor divide in literacy 22 Slaves to servers or heads in the cloud? 23 building the digital universities of tomorrow 24 joining the dots between education and the workplace 25 universities and schools interface with business 26 partnership model a huge success 28 Scholarships a-plenty 29 roboshops: unlocking curious minds 30 jetmag: Tackling the big and little issues for young people 32 how can technology make me a better person? Editor Jude Barback 07 542 3013 firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising & marketing manager Belle Hanrahan 04 915 9783 email@example.com general manager & Publisher Fiona Reid production Aaron Morey Subscriptions Gunvor Carlson 04 915 9780 firstname.lastname@example.org images iStock
ICT & Procurement EDUCATION REVIEW series
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Education Review series
ICT & PROCUREMENT 2016 1
Bring your own device
As it becomes increasingly necessary for students to have access to a digital device, each school must find a way to provide access that best suits its learners and its community. As JUDE BARBACK discovers, there is no single best approach, but many factors to consider, not least cost and digital equality.
aniel’s iPad charges every night while he sleeps so that it is ready for the next day at school. It has become part of his nightly routine, along with brushing his teeth and reading a book. In the hours the device is at home he admits to watching the odd YouTube clip and playing Minecraft, but he is also able to show his parents what he’s been doing at school. Today he demonstrates how he was able to work out various maths problems on Explain Everything. The iPad technically belongs to his parents, but he insists that the family now refers to it as his. Daniel is year 3. It seems a fairly tall order to expect the parents of a seven-year-old to send an expensive piece of tech off to school with their child each day. Yet, this has become commonplace. “At first, we weren’t so sure,” says his father, Neil. “But as we saw that his peers were starting to bring them along, and how much they use them in the classroom, we didn’t want him to miss out.”
“We are in the difficult situation, which has been the case with many schools that have a voluntary programme, that teachers cannot count on there being a full class of devices, which means that teaching programmes must necessarily lend themselves more to an analogue approach rather than using ICT for learning,” says principal Grant Saul. “We feel parents are generally supportive, although we have had some parents who would like to see a greater level of use of ICT for learning,” he says. Westlake Boys’ previously had tight restrictions on electronic devices being brought to school by students. By 2013, owing to an improvement in the school’s infrastructure, students were allowed to bring devices that were a minimum of seven inches. However, the school quickly recognised that a large number of students did not have such devices, so the policy was relaxed to allow smartphones at teacher discretion. Since then, Saul says the school’s language and general approach has changed from “allowing” to “encouraging” students to bring learning devices to school.
How BYOD is evolving
Trade-off between cost and digital equality
FOMO – fear of missing out – is certainly an apt acronym to help explain why many parents are starting to embrace their school’s BYOD (bring your own device) policy. But this hasn’t always been the case. Initially, parents were reluctant to entrust the family iPad to their child or invest in a new device for their child’s education. Many were unconvinced that devices were really needed in the classroom. Meanwhile, the low uptake of BYOD meant teachers struggled to demonstrate the effectiveness of devices as a tool for teaching and learning. This is still a fundamental problem with voluntary BYOD programmes. Until every student has a device, teachers cannot truly embrace digital technology. But until they embrace it, students (and their parents) aren’t going to see the need to shell out for a device. Many schools can relate to this Catch-22 predicament, among them Westlake Boys’ High School.
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BYOD policies vary hugely. They can be voluntary or compulsory. They can apply to the whole school or to certain year groups. They can allow any device, recommend a particular device or mandate the exact type of device that a student must have. There are pros and cons for whatever decision is taken. Schools must find the path that works best for them and their communities. The New Zealand Council of Educational Research’s National Survey of Secondary Schools 2015 found that 62 per cent of secondary schools had a BYOD policy in place. Of these, 40 per cent of schools’ policies are for all students with the device unspecified. Westlake Boys’ is among this group, operating a voluntary BYOD policy that allows students to bring in a device of their choosing. There are advantages to a voluntary approach like this. Saul says the school hasn’t had concerns about affordability raised by the parent community as it isn’t compulsory to purchase a device.
However, the flip side is that uptake of BYOD can take longer. Saul says the proportion of students who bring devices remains small, although they are starting to notice an increase in the number of year 9 and year 10 students bringing in devices. In an attempt to bolster ICT access for students, Westlake Boys’ has also purchased 120 netbooks, which are split into six sets that can be booked. Saul describes the netbooks initiative as having “reasonable, but not outstanding success”. He would prefer not to go down the road of school-owned devices. Keeping track of them, damage and the fact that students can’t take them home all makes the netbook solution inferior to BYOD for Westlake Boys’. Horowhenua College clearly articulates on its website its case for BYOD over school-procured devices. It matter-of-factly states that the school can’t afford to replace its desktop machines, which are fast becoming outdated. “As a school, what we want is 1:1 access to technology, access to the internet as needed, when needed. We can’t afford to do that by ourselves so we need parent help. We need you to purchase a 1:1 learning device for your student.” By contrast, some schools have opted for school-owned devices for every student, or as high a ratio as possible, in an effort to ensure equity of access for students. Te Akau ki Papamoa School, for example, supplied each of its 580 students with an iPad mini. The school achieved this through tight budgeting and fundraising. The biggest advantage for 1:1 school-owned devices is digital equality. Schools don’t have to worry about who does and doesn’t have a device, or whether one student’s device is inferior to that of another. Additionally, as everyone has the same device and is on the same platform, schools know whatever apps they use will work on all of their students’ devices. However, on the downside, the costs for this approach can be considerable. In addition to the initial outlay there are the long-term maintenance costs to be taken into account, including upgrades and replacing old devices for new ones. By contrast, with BYOD, the maintenance is the responsibility of the user.
“This is something that each school will make decisions on. Some are implementing or working towards a device for every student, while others are making sure they have a good stock of devices that can be shared.” Can digital equality be achieved through BYOD?
Grant Saul thinks the growth of BYOD is inevitable. The proliferation of devices will mean more are brought to school, which in turn will mean educators can fully integrate digital technology into their teaching. The increase in uptake of BYOD is expected to result in improved equity of access. While students may have different devices, the fact that virtually all will have a device of some variety is a step closer to digital equality – without the associated costs of school-owned device systems. Some schools have adopted a more prescriptive BYOD policy in an effort to bring digital equality to the classroom. Horowhenua College, for example, requires all year 9 and 10 students to “bring a Wi-Fi internet capable device with them to school each day for learning”. It recommends the iPad mini 16GB Wi-Fi but is happy for students to bring another device if they have one already. It states that “in cases of hardship the school will be able to issue a device to students”. Other schools take a more rigid line, mandating a particular device. A prescriptive BYOD policy relieves the school of the cost burden and achieves complete equity of access – however, it does place pressure on students and their families, particularly those who may not be in a position to afford the required device.
In the cases when a particular device is required, the school will often aim to put a bulk purchasing deal in place for parents to purchase at a cheaper rate. Papakura Normal School considered a range of options before they settled on the HP Stream 11” notebook as the device of choice for its students. The biggest criterion was price – it had to be cost effective for parents. However, size, battery life, reliability and functionality were all key factors as well. It was important to the school that students could access both Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps. Point England School owns around 300 devices providing a device per student for its year 1 to 3 students. The school’s year 4 to 8 students lease to own their devices at a rate of $3.75 per week. These are school-procured and provisioned with the Manaiakalani Education Trust holding the equity and liability for the micro loans.
Who should bear the cost?
The NZCER survey found that three decile 1-4 secondary schools reported having lease-to-buy schemes in place, similar to the Manaiakalani approach. However, many low-decile schools are struggling to get a BYOD policy off the ground due to the inability of their communities to afford devices. The survey found that 88 per cent of decile 1-2 secondary schools reported this as a barrier for BYOD. In sharp contrast, just three percent of decile 9-10 schools reported the same barrier.
It is unsurprising that high decile schools are more likely to have a BYOD policy in place than low-decile schools (the survey reports 83 per cent, compared with 40 per cent). Interestingly, school size also plays a part, with larger schools more likely to have a BYOD policy than smaller schools. It is clear we are still a long way from achieving digital equality – within schools in many cases, and across all schools. Many think it should be the Government footing the bill for student devices – particularly with digital technology taking an increasingly high profile in education. Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins believes parents shouldn’t be shelling out at all. Earlier this year he hit out at government for failing to adequately fund devices for students. “There’s no doubt that kids need to be using technology, but simply transferring the cost of that onto parents isn’t really living up to our obligation to provide kids with a free education,” said Hipkins. “We need to look at the cost of technology that schools face because clearly government funding isn’t keeping up with that.” There have also been calls for more teacher professional development in this area to ensure that teachers are effectively incorporating digital technology into their teaching and learning practice. These have strengthened with the
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news that digital technologies is to be formally integrated into The New Zealand Curriculum. However, there is no indication of any additional funding assistance from government toward the provision of devices in schools. Lisa Rodgers, head of early learning and student achievement for the Ministry of Education, says the changes to the curriculum are not expected to place any further pressure on schools’ device:student ratios. “Our schools are already among the bestequipped in the OECD for digital technology and connectivity. There’s just over one (1.2) students per school computer in New Zealand, compared with an OECD average of nearly five (4.7). Nevertheless, strengthening the place of digital technologies in the curriculum doesn’t require each student to have a digital device,”
says Rodgers. “The proposed new content in the curriculum is underpinned by computational thinking that is not dependent on access to digital devices, particularly in the early levels of the curriculum.” Rodgers says it is very much up to the school how they approach the challenge of providing students access to devices. “This is something that each school will make decisions on. Some are implementing or working towards a device for every student, while others are making sure they have a good stock of devices that can be shared.” Indeed, there is no single best approach. Each school and its wider community must be true to its own needs and goals as it navigates its way through the myriad options to find the best solution for its students.
How to get the most out of BYOD? get infrastructure sorted New Zealand’s largest school, Rangitoto College demonstrates the importance of having a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure in place before rolling out a BYOD programme so that students can use their devices to maximise learning opportunities in and outside the classroom.
ith over 3,000 students, Rangitoto College required a wireless network to support over 10,000 devices connecting at any one given time. They needed a system that would not only work in with its Learning Management System, RangiNet, but support its planned BYOD programme and the implementation of Google Apps for Education and other tools. According to Associate Principal of Rangitoto College, Don Hastie it was imperative to have a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure in place first, before implementing the rollout of the BYOD programme at the school. With the Government also supporting a wireless upgrade plan, Rangitoto College made the decision to replace its Cisco network. The school went to tender and looked at various wireless solutions. Aruba Networks ticked all the boxes for Rangitoto. Following a steady implementation of the BYOD policy throughout Rangitoto College, in 2016 all students in years 9, 10 and 11 are now required to bring a device to school to support their learning. “Last year we implemented the BYOD programme for years 9 and 10. This year, the programme has been expanded to include year 11. We will continue to grow the number of devices that are connected to the network, with year 12 and 13 following in the coming years,” says Hastie. Underpinned by the new wireless network, Rangitoto’s BYOD programme supports a wide spectrum of e-learning and blended learning activities that can extend beyond the classroom.
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According to Wayne Everett, IT Services Manager at Rangitoto, the college has significantly modified the way technology is used at the school in recent years. “Over the last two or three years we’ve encouraged students to bring and use their own devices. Before that, the college had IT and computer rooms teachers could book out to allow students to engage and work with technology,” explains Everett.
“Students need to use technology confidently and safely, in a way that supports modern learning and helps them participate in the future workforce.” Increased engagement
Don Hastie says they have noticed an increased engagement and task focus among students. “The ability to work in courtyards of the school grounds, for example, helps increase the engagement of students,” he says. RangiNet is the college’s online portal for students, parents and teachers. The secure virtual learning site provides access to a wide range of learning materials and organisational information for subjects across the entire curriculum. The portal provides students with a place to access
resources to supplement their learning and allows students to submit assignments. Parents too, have access to all of these pages, as well as information that relates specifically to their child. This inclusive portal is designed to empower parents, engage students in taking greater ownership and responsibility for their learning, and provide teachers with one central place to access relevant curriculum documents. Hastie says the school uses a range of cloudbased tools to support 21st century learning in the classroom. “These tools enhance collaboration, communication and creativity. They are also designed to spur innovation, critical thinking and problem solving. Students need to use technology confidently and safely, in a way that supports modern learning and helps them participate in the future workforce,” says Hastie. Among these tools is Google Apps for Education. The school’s new wireless solution has helped students and teachers to seamlessly use the platform. Teachers can see all the students in their class, share documents with them and take care of all the classroom administration function around managing a classroom – all connected wirelessly across the network. Hastie says the college is also in the process of looking at access control systems across the school. Utilising a secure card solution that would rely on a wireless system, Rangitoto would have a more secure and simple way of accessing the college grounds.
Caution needed over CoLs
Following NZEI Te Riu Roa’s concerns about Education Review’s article ‘Communities of Learning – “game changing”’ that appeared in our last issue, Education Review extended the invitation to NZEI to contribute an article to give voice to the union’s concerns. Here, MELISSA SCHWALGER discusses some reservations around Communities of Learning (CoL) and how these are being addressed.
hen the Ministry of Education started extolling the benefits of forming Communities of Learning, it quickly became apparent that another voice was needed. NZEI Te Riu Roa worked with the Ministry to turn Investing in Educational Success into a scheme that is becoming more child-centred and responsive to the needs of individual communities. However, it will still be a long haul to get a model that is fully responsive to the varying needs of the sector and one in which we are confident. In response to these concerns, NZEI seconded Berhampore Primary School principal Mark Potter to work with schools that wanted to discuss their options and see whether forming a CoL was right for them. “It was to give another voice to what schools had been told by the Ministry, giving them advice. Part of the reason was that through the Joint Initiative process, we’d come to realise that the very singular drive for one kind of model didn’t actually work for people,” says Potter. “It’s all about the concept of stretch. For those who want to talk, we’re not telling people how it is, we’re entering into conversation about what they feel they need and what they can get out of this concept. I’ve been in discussions with people who want to know how to get into a CoL, groups who want to stay out of a CoL and groups that want to get out of a CoL.” The most common concern that Potter hears is that the idea of a singular leader doesn’t work for most people, especially for those clusters of schools that have already been working together collaboratively for many years. “There are a few groups that know what they want to achieve as a community and how they want to lead it, but if the Ministry isn’t prepared to accept the collaborative way they want to run it,
with shared leadership, they don’t see any value in forming a CoL,” he said. “The successful clusters that we looked at during the JI working parties had already worked together on something collaboratively. Collaboration is a learnt behaviour. “When the Ministry wants them to change the way they’ve been working to form a CoL, some of them say, ‘Why should we break up a successful formula? For one of us to get $30,000 to work in the way you want us to work, we don’t see that as being enough of an incentive’.”
“For CoLs to work, everyone has to be altruistic in their thinking. You’ve got to think about the whole community and who is missing out.” Mixed messages
Potter says the first CoLs to form found there was very little flexibility in the scheme, but as time goes on, the Ministry gradually seems to be showing more willingness to be flexible. “To be fair, the Ministry is trying to figure out how to make it work too,” he said. NZEI is most concerned about the narrow, data-driven achievement challenges that many CoLs are adopting, apparently under pressure from the Ministry. Potter says a number of potential CoLs have made expressions of interest and gone as far as the achievement challenge phase, but then pulled out because the Ministry wanted an achievement challenge more aligned with the Government’s Better Public Services target of 85 per cent of students at or above National Standards.
“There are a few groups I’ve spoken to that have put in a lot of work and the Ministry just said no. They say, ‘Oh just do what you want’, but that’s not what they mean. It’s more like, ‘You can choose any target you want, as long as it’s 85 per cent. You can choose anyone you want to lead, as long as it’s the person we want.’ That’s how directive it’s been,” he said. The prescriptiveness of the achievement challenges is a possible area of concern for a group of Horowhenua schools that is in the Expression of Interest phase and has already done a massive amount of preparation and consultation within the community. Levin North School principal Moira HowardCampbell has been a member of the working party and says the group of 15 primary and three secondary schools has developed high-level achievement challenges. “As a community, we want to improve outcomes for our most at-risk students, see students realise their full potential, engage parents and whānau and strengthen collaboration,” she said. “We understand that we have to have ways of measuring what we set out to do, so the challenge for us will be to continue to be open-minded and somehow ‘meet’ the criteria for the acceptance of the ‘achievement challenges’. As a Community of Learners, we want to be able to be innovative in meeting needs. “We would be concerned if there was pressure on us to be too prescriptive with the achievement challenges.” However, Howard-Campbell is fairly optimistic about how things are looking for leadership of the CoL. “A lot of us have done a significant amount of heavy lifting, so the fact that the Minister has now said that we can appoint a leader prior to the acceptance of the achievement challenge is great.
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“But – here is yet another challenge – we have 18 schools and in the spirit of collaboration we’d like to have two leaders rather than one. This is very important to us and the Ministry has indicated a certain reserved openness to that idea. We intend to explore ways to make this happen,” she said. Howard-Campbell says working with ages 0-5 is really important and at the time of writing she was about to meet with three local ECE centres to see how they could be included, even though CoL funding for ECE is yet to be negotiated. “We have got early childhood interest but really that’s a minefield as well [because of the lack of funding for them]. We would not exclude them from our community and will find a way to include them because we recognise that our kids aren’t coming to school necessarily school ready,” she said. How to include ECE and support staff is an ongoing focus of work with the Ministry of Education. NZEI has pushed for their inclusion in the JI because of the vital importance of ECE and support staff in our education system. An upcoming joint NZEI-Ministry review of Communities of Learning will also be looking at how CoLs can have greater responsiveness to local needs. NZEI will be ensuring this looks at how to most effectively resource ECE and support staff to be actively involved in CoLs.
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Howard-Campbell sees potential for other logistical challenges if a CoL gets up and running. She chuckles at the query of available relief cover for the five across-school teachers and for observers’ visits to 28 in-school teachers who would open their classrooms as models of learning for other teachers. “At the moment the reality is that many of our schools struggle to find enough relievers to cover sick leave. It seems that this issue could go one of two ways; the challenge in finding staff could be worse or it could be the opportunity that some teachers are looking for. A part-time teaching position could be an attractive opportunity; it may in fact be a potential positive – however, at this stage we just don’t know.” Despite the myriad questions yet to work through, Howard-Campbell says it is interesting work and she can see the potential for real innovation and teachers supporting each other in their practice. But taking the time to get it right is essential. Howard-Campbell strongly recommends that anyone considering involvement in a CoL should go and visit someone who is a few steps ahead in the process.
“We went to Blenheim right at the start of this, five of us from the working party. Kanohi to kanohi, you can’t beat it – asking questions, listening. It certainly helped us,” she said. Mark Potter says some established CoLs are working very effectively and one of the key things those CoLs have in common is that they have taken 12 to 18 months to get set up and pushed hard to get the achievement challenge they felt was right for their community. “For CoLs to work, everyone has to be altruistic in their thinking. You’ve got to think about the whole community and who is missing out. Some schools find it very difficult when some of their colleagues are still working in a very marketoriented way, being competitive. You can’t work with someone in a CoL when they’re sitting at the table trying to work out how to enrol more of your kids at their school,” he said. Potter is now back leading Berhampore School. There are probably few principals in the country who know as much about the pros and cons of CoLs as he does. However, for now, his local cluster of schools will continue to collaborate and take the time to do their homework and decide whether going down the CoL path is the right decision for their students.
The building is
only the beginning JUDE BARBACK visits newly opened Rototuna Junior High School in Hamilton and finds that the school is defined not only by its sleek surfaces and modern layout, but by its innovative approach to teaching and learning within the new environment.
pull over to ask two road workers how to get to Rototuna Junior High School. “It’s just there, mate,” one says incredulously, pointing at the magnificent futuristic building in the valley below. I had spotted it already – it was hard to miss the gleaming lines of glass and steel rising beside a construction zone – but I couldn’t find the entrance. Despite some fairly unhelpful navigation and my poor sense of direction, I eventually found myself parked and walking along a perfectly manicured footpath bordering fields of nothing toward this great symbol of modern education. Like the other delegates attending the #edchatnz 2016 conference there, I am intrigued to see a new school in operation. Rototuna Junior High has been in the works for over 20 years, says deputy principal Mel Moore. She says the community has fought incredibly hard for the school. It serves years 7 to 10. The adjacent Senior High School – currently still under construction – will open from year 11 next year. There appears to be mixed messages about the separation of the schools. The Ministry wants two distinct schools, but the community wants one. Consequently “on paper” it is two schools, but in practice it will operate as one, says Moore, utilising the many shared areas, including the staff room, reception area, gymnasium and performing arts centre. One of the challenges of establishing a new school is trying to create a learning framework to
fit the school’s design and layout, which is largely predetermined by the Ministry and their architects. Those actually using the space have little input into its design. “It was very odd to come on board but to have no say in the design of the space,” says Moore. I recall similar conversations with Steve Lindsey, principal of new school Papamoa College in the Bay of Plenty. Like Moore, Lindsey would have liked to have been involved at an earlier stage of the design process. He described the process as “the wrong way round”, with the emphasis on achieving things like Green Star ratings rather than effective learning spaces. Moore acknowledges that the Ministry has to think longer term when it comes to school design. Certainly, the buildings will outlast the current senior leadership team’s time at the helm. To tailor the design and layout of a school too closely to current needs and wants would probably be short-sighted. But that doesn’t relieve the challenges for today’s senior leadership at Rototuna Junior High School. The school has a projected roll of 800, and they have to work out how to slice it so that learning modules, learning advisories and flight times all work with the space. The larger learning spaces do seem to lend themselves for the type of connected learning to which they aspire. Moore says she is frustrated by the silos that emerge within the learning areas of the curriculum. She gives the example of students who learn graphing in maths, yet leave this skill at the door of their biology class, where it needs to be taught again – “a waste of time” according to Moore. The learning modules are typically led by three teachers, with an emphasis on integrating teaching to make connections between learning areas. For example, a learning module on Cultural Conflict spans English and social sciences, while Design Craft takes in maths and design technology and Hauora in Action teaches across physical education and Te Reo Māori. ‘Flight times’ occur three times a week and range from things like martial arts, yoga and
languages to extension programmes or a chance for students to play ‘catch up’ – which as Moore says, is learning in itself. Students get a say in flight time activities each term; “sleeping” is apparently a popular request, and one that is unsurprisingly vetoed. The school has, it seems, a vision that could probably work for any space. The edu-speak version is whittled down to an acronym that the students can understand: CLOAK (Challenge our mindset, Learning is connected, Ourselves as learning, Ako always and Kindness and respect). On my group tour of the school – conducted by two able student ambassadors – I see references to the CLOAK everywhere. Our group stops to observe a learning module in session. Our ambassador asks the teacher, Steve – they call all the teachers by their first names – what they are learning. “Dragon’s Den” is the answer, a study of enterprise spanning various learning areas. I can see why ‘innovative’ has trumped ‘modern’ when it comes to talking about learning spaces like this. ‘Modern’, while a fitting descriptor, doesn’t quite encapsulate the vast spaces, in which the furniture can be configured in a multitude of ways, and where digital technology can be integrated seamlessly into learning. Devices are ever-present, yet do not appear to dominate. They are, as intended, a mere tool for learning. It strikes me that the novelty of devices has already worn off for these young people. They will never know learning without them. “It’s like Google Headquarters for young people,” muttered one teacher on our tour. I know what she means. “Do you feel lucky to be at a school like this?” another teacher asks the student ambassadors, to which they nod enthusiastically. Lucky indeed. The sharp new buildings and facilities are only part of it – the innovation that infiltrates the timetable, vision and approach to learning is what truly gives this school a sense of promise. If this is schooling of the future, then we’d like more please.
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Building digital technology into the curriculum: master stroke or missed opportunity?
While the news that digital technologies is to be included in The New Zealand Curriculum has been broadly welcomed, many believe the announcement falls short in a number of ways. By JUDE BARBACK.
he Education Minister’s announcement that digital technologies will finally be integrated into The New Zealand Curriculum has been welcomed by schools and the wider IT sector; however, many have expressed disappointment that the opportunity has been missed to make more robust and influential changes in this area. Hekia Parata made the announcement at this year’s NZTech Advance Education Technology Summit in Auckland, heralding it as “the first change to The New Zealand Curriculum since its introduction in 2007”. The change is an outcome of the Government’s Science in Society Strategic Plan A Nation of Curious Minds: He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara in which one of the key initiatives was to review the positioning and content of digital technology within The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. It is hoped to develop pathways to prepare students for careers in New Zealand’s fast-growing digital tech sector. Lisa Rodgers, head of early learning and student achievement for the Ministry of Education, says they have taken the lead from other countries. “We’re aware of recent changes to curriculum in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, and we will gather the most ambitious elements of international digital technologies curriculum design. Our aim is to maintain New Zealand’s position at the forefront of curriculum design.” The changes build upon the introduction of digital technologies at NCEA Levels 1 to 3 in 2010,
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expanding Digital Technologies in the curriculum from senior secondary right down to year 1, ensuring that every child, in every school from years 1 to 10 will be exposed to a comprehensive digital technologies programme. Schools can and do teach digital technologies at all levels already; however, it isn’t a requirement and the announcement will bring a more structured approach to teaching and learning in this area. “Further down the track, the new learning objectives for curriculum levels 6-8 will result in new achievement standards for NCEA Levels 1 to 3 being written, trialled and registered to reflect the depth of prior learning at curriculum levels 1-5,” says Rodgers. The new content will be around six themes – algorithms, data representation, digital applications, digital devices and infrastructure, humans and computers and programming. Digital technologies will be included as a strand of the technology learning area in The New Zealand Curriculum, and as a whenu within the Hangarau Wāhanga Ako of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
Why hasn’t it been given its own learning area?
Broadly speaking, the changes have been welcomed, but many are frustrated that a number of key recommendations haven’t been adopted, at the lack of additional funding, and at the time it is taking to implement. Of most concern is that the Minister appears to have ignored the recommendation that digital technologies should have its own learning area,
rather than sit as a strand in the technology learning area, effectively placing it alongside vocation-based subjects such as hard materials, food technology and textiles. The review considered whether having digital technologies as a strand could still achieve the change in focus and attention needed to adequately prepare students for the digital world. Many experts participating in the review were clear that moving it into its own subject learning area was absolutely necessary. President of NZACDITT (New Zealand Association for Computing, Digital and Information Technology Teachers) Julie McMahon says the new digital technologies strands are unlikely to enact the intended change. “The Technology Learning Area is not currently given adequate or equitable coverage in years 1-10, as compared with other learning areas. The addition of digital technologies learning objectives puts further pressure on an already crowded curriculum.” Paul Matthews, chief executive of the Institute of IT Professionals NZ (IITP), says the Minister has stopped short of truly transforming tech education in schools by refusing to create a proper focused home for digital technologies in its own learning area. “While we absolutely welcome the introduction of digital technologies and computational thinking down to year 1, and see this as an important step forward, our industry sees the lack of movement on the structure and position of digital technologies in schools as a real lost opportunity.
ICT Curriculum “It’s like telling a subject as essential as maths that they have to be a part of PE. Both are important, but they’re simply different things,” Matthews says. “Digital technologies needs its own home within the curriculum. Without this, the outcome announced today simply won’t get us where we need to go as a country.” Industry experts agree, including Orion Health’s Ian McCrae. “What the tech industry asked for is digital technology to be separated from woodwork, metalwork, cookery and sewing and to become a separate learning area. That hasn’t happened,” he told CIO New Zealand. “We said digital technology needed to become an academic subject on a par with maths and physics. That hasn’t happened. “And we wanted a major change to the curriculum so that it actually taught secondary school students how to code, rather than how to create a PowerPoint presentation. That hasn’t happened either.” Lisa Rodgers says she understands the sector’s concerns but stands by the Ministry’s decision. “We know that some in the IT sector would have liked digital technologies to be separated out from technology. However, when we looked at the overarching definitions of technology within the curriculum, it was an excellent fit with the new digital technologies curriculum content.” The vision statement for technology is that “students learn to be innovative developers of products and systems and discerning consumers who will make a difference in the world”. The learning area is described in the curriculum as, “Technology is intervention by design: the use of practical and intellectual resources to develop products and systems that expand human possibilities by addressing needs and realising opportunities. Adaptation and innovation are at the heart of technological practice, and quality outcomes result from thinking and practices that are informed, critical, and creative.” Rodgers says it is unlikely that digital technologies will be given its own learning area, even following further consultation. “We have a lot of work to do to implement the significant changes that have just been approved. Revisiting the place of digital technologies in the curriculum isn’t currently part of that work plan.”
Are we adequately preparing students for a digital world?
Minister Parata says the new changes will allow students the opportunity to take a pathway that leads to specialist training for a digital career. “Our young people need to be prepared to use digital technologies in all industries from automotive engineering to biotechnology.” Industry leaders agree the approach to digital technologies during the school years will play a significant role in preparing young New Zealanders for careers in the growing tech sector. MYOB New Zealand general manager James Scollay says it is vitally important that the next generation is equipped with the skills and knowledge required to compete in the digital world.
“New Zealand’s IT sector is vibrant, exciting, dynamic and job-rich. There are enormous opportunities out there for young people looking for a career in IT. This announcement ensures that the most up-to-date digital learning practices will help tomorrow’s tech graduates gain a foothold in the workforce.” “This is economically important, because New Zealand needs more capacity to be a nation that exports digits – which is all that software and digital information is. This kind of export can scale easily, has a low environmental impact and is very high value.” However, Ian McCrae describes the curriculum announcement as a “missed opportunity” for New Zealand to lead the world as an innovative digital nation. “New Zealand requires an education system that can prepare our children for careers in the global marketplace. Technology is emerging as the
“While we absolutely welcome the introduction of digital technologies and computational thinking down to year 1, and see this as an important step forward, our industry sees the lack of movement on the structure and position of digital technologies in schools as a real lost opportunity.” number two export sector in this country and jobs in this sector are well paid and provide an exciting career path,” he tells CIO. McCrae points out that leading tech companies such as Orion Health and Xero frequently have large recruitment drives. “We struggle to find graduates in New Zealand with the right skillset, and are forced to look overseas to fill vacancies. The pipeline to more top computer science graduates begins at secondary school, when young people make subject choices that will influence their learning path. This situation has been repeatedly explained to the Ministry of Education over the last six years.” Yet, Education Minister Hekia Parata maintains the changes they’re introducing are sufficient. “The information technology sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in New Zealand, with a demand for skilled graduates,” she says. “This step will support young people to develop skills, confidence and interest in digital technologies and lead them to opportunities across the diverse and growing IT sector. We look forward to continuing to work with the IT sector to ensure we have a futurefocused, world-leading education system.”
Paul Matthews says significant additional funding is needed to provide the necessary professional development for teachers. Julie McMahon agrees. She says funding to support the implementation of these new strands is critical to the success and support change. “The shortage in supply of digital technologies teachers who are adequately trained to deliver to curriculum learning objectives must be addressed through creating initiatives and pathways to become a digital technologies educator. Current in-service teachers will need to be supported through professional learning and development in the new learning objectives, as well as through development of quality teaching resources that support these strands,” says McMahon. Computer science education expert University of Canterbury Professor Tim Bell has welcomed the curriculum announcement but agrees that the roll-out needs to be funded adequately. “The key to success will be providing extensive PLD [Professional Learning and Development] for in-service teachers, and making sure that preservice teachers get good preparation. Presently, the announcement hasn’t shown exactly how this will happen, and we look forward to seeing strong support to empower teachers to deliver the new material,” says Bell. “This is a qualitative change – there are new topics and skills in the new curriculum and teachers will need a lot of help with pedagogy for teaching about digital technology. But we know from our pilot studies that it will be a positive experience for teachers and students alike.”
The wait is over – or is it?
The tech sector is also frustrated at the time it’s taken to get this far. The announcement follows a 12-month broad review with stakeholders from across the sector followed by seven months of deliberations by the Minister. “The changes announced are something that should have been implemented from the start,” says Matthews. “The tech industry was looking for leadership, not two years of meetings and reviews. More urgency is needed if the Government is serious about positioning New Zealand for the real economic growth our industry can bring.” From now until the end of 2017, the Government will consult with stakeholders, design new curriculum content, and develop achievement objectives across the whole learner pathway. It won’t be fully integrated into The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa until 2018. Orion Health’s Ian McCrae, The Mind Lab chair Frances Valintine and Animation Research chief executive Ian Taylor have called for the inclusion of digital technology to the school curriculum to be fast-tracked. They expressed their concerns in an open letter to the Education Minister. “Every month we deliberate, every year we spend on reviews, results in another group of children missing out.”
More funding needed
However, many are concerned that this vision won’t be achieved unless the changes to the curriculum are supported with an increase in funding.
Go to www.educationreview.co.nz Education Review series
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Young people are our most avid consumers of digital technology but increasingly they are learning how to go behind the screen and learn about coding and content creation. JUDE BARBACK looks at some initiatives beyond the curriculum that are designed to open teachers’ and students’ eyes to new opportunities.
The rules of Code Club
racy Henderson tells me that she learned to type on an Olympia typewriter. “It’s something you’d find in a museum,” she laughs. I can relate. In my attempts to keep up with my kids’ digital education, I admit to glazing over when they talk excitedly about learning to code at school. My year 3 son has started tinkering on Scratch, while my year 1 daughter is exploring TinyTap. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s more that I have no idea what they’re talking about. They lost me at Minecraft and Slither.io. Coding feels light years away from my weekly 10 minutes of allotted computer time on the enormous and solitary Apple at the back of the classroom. While I’m sure virtually all teachers are more adept with digital technology than I am, Henderson makes me feel like there is hope for even the most tech-challenged individuals. Henderson, who has clearly made greater digital leaps than I have since our respective childhoods, works alongside Professor Tim Bell at the University of Canterbury on the CS4PS (Computer Science for Primary Schools) initiative. A recent CS4PS conference in Christchurch confirmed that with the right professional development, even teachers with no computing background can become proficient at teaching coding and other computing topics to a class full of eager minds.
Computing without the computers
The flurry of tweets flaunting #CS4PSchch indicate that the two-day course, which was capped at 40 participants, was a huge success. For many, the lightbulb moment came with the realisation that they can teach computing concepts with handson practical activities using regular classroom equipment.
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The idea of teaching computing without computers is a puzzling one, but a quick lesson in CS Unplugged confirms that not only is it doable, but it is incredibly effective. CS Unplugged is the baby of the University of Canterbury’s CS Education Research Group’s. Supported by Google, CS Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. It was designed so that young students could experience the sorts of challenges that computer scientists experience, but without having to learn programming first. It was originally intended as an optional extra, a resource for extension, but now is widely used for teaching. The CS4PS course participants embraced CS Unplugged elements as well as how to transition from an unplugged situation to a working program. For example, a simple activity with sheets of paper and dots helps explain the binary system and what bits and bytes are to kids. In another activity, balance scales are used to compare weights to help students understand the basics of sorting algorithms. In a third, a magic trick using pieces of card simulates the same methods that computers use to figure out if an error has occurred in data storage. CS Unplugged is about paring back coding to its fundamental concepts and allowing students to gain a better understanding of what they’re essentially doing when they take up coding on a device. Sarah Gifford from Ladbrooks School has been part of the CS4PS pilot programme and says every child in her class of year 6-8 students was able to enter the discussions or investigations at their own level, using their peers as experts.
“After my first session with Tracy [Henderson] and Tim [Bell] I went back to school and started a discussion with my class about Binary... they knew nothing! By the end of an hour and a half my class was able to create a code and crack a code using binary numbers. They then went home and created codes for their family to crack and taught them how it worked.” From there, Gifford’s students have progressed to creating programs on Scratch. “They have created maze games including questions and answers, a point system, timed levels and having to start again or lose points when a question is wrong. Most recently they created a Scratch program that measured and taught others about naming angles as part of our geometry unit.” Gifford says she has learned that as a teacher of computer science you don’t always need to know all the answers. “Although I have learned a lot, I know too that the questions we ask are more powerful than giving the answers. I am always asking, why do you think that is? How can we find out? What have you got so far, read your script to me... through these questions the children answer their own and delve even deeper into their thinking.” Ali Duncan, who teaches years 2-4 at Ladbrooks, agrees that at first she felt out of her depth teaching computer science, and dreaded the tricky questions from her students. However, she gained confidence as she saw how effective the UC Unplugged resource was with her students. “My children were amazing. I noticed those who can be quiet and reserved blossomed and showed strengths in computational thinking, reasoning and logic. They problem solved, challenged themselves, made connections and are hungry for more.”
Coding They are now all regular Scratch Jnr programmers. Some prefer Hopscotch, a similar coding game. Computer science is integrated into maths every week and the class has deep critical thinking conversations. “I love it,” says Duncan. “I feel like this is relevant and impacting on the children’s engagement and understanding. It’s easy to integrate and my own knowledge is growing with the children.” Duncan says she isn’t worried about the tricky questions anymore. “Like I am with any other question, I just answer it the same way, with ‘What do you think?’ or ‘I don’t know, let’s find out’.”
Magic tricks, games – it all sounds terribly fun. Tracy Henderson is adamant that computer science should be introduced to students in a fun way, to help engage them with a subject that is set to play a significant role in their lives. Henderson takes this approach to her role as curriculum developer for Code Club Aotearoa. Code Club was started in the UK in 2012 and has now gone global with thousands of clubs around the world, all with the same mission of teaching children to code. Michael Trengrove of Orion Health founded Code Club Aotearoa several years ago, as an attempt to address the IT sector’s struggle to recruit talented locals. He felt Kiwi kids needed more exposure to the vast array of careers that involve different aspects of working with digital technologies. Code Club Aotearoa is flourishing, with code clubs sprouting up all around New Zealand, some in schools and others in libraries or community centres. The clubs are extracurricular and are led by volunteers who teach one project per week. The projects are created by the team at Code Club Aotearoa and aimed at teaching children to program by showing them how to make computer games, animations, and websites. Students learn the basics of programming using Scratch and the basics of web development using HTML, CSS and Python. Resources are currently in development to teach children to build their own Internet of Things projects. (For the uninitiated, the Internet of Things is a network of connected
devices that collect and exchange data – in a Google nutshell.) Code Clubs are helping bust the myth that coding is some “exceptional skill” that only few people can master. Henderson says there is a misconception that because digital technologies are getting easier to use, we shouldn’t bother teaching things like coding. In reality, she says, the fact that technology is getting easier to use is a reflection of the sophisticated programming and hard work that has gone on behind the scenes. It’s not enough for children simply to know how to use technology, they need to be exposed to the endless possibilities technology provides, including programming, web development and content creation. Melanie Riwai-Couch, principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whānau Tahi says the Code Club at their school has changed the way their students interact with technology. Students at the kura have 1:1 access to devices, but before Code Club they used them primarily to source content. “What I love about Code Club, as an educator, is that the tamariki are producing rather than consuming.” The kura’s Code Club was instigated after Code Club Aotearoa liaised with Ngāi Tahu to form a Code Club that taught the basics of coding in a culturally relevant way. As such efforts have been made to ensure the material used by the Code Club reflects the iwi’s history and values. Riwai-Couch says this approach enables the tamariki to find their own voice, helping them to communicate through a medium with which they are familiar. Te Whānau Tahi student Te Hinemaia Te Raki shared on Radio New Zealand a project she was working on at Code Club. It involved the creation of an animated story about a family all named after
her whakapapa. The story was about her iwi and where she came from. She described how she had learned, by using sprites to make the characters speak and interact with each other. Te Raki said it had been “a lot of fun” learning something entirely new and expressed a wish to continue learning to code.
Pathway to what?
Code Club may well sow the seeds for students like Te Hinemaia Te Raki to go on to pursue digital technologies at NCEA level. The recent announcement that digital technologies is to be formally integrated into the New Zealand curriculum is likely to result in a more structured pathway for coding from year 1 and up. However, Henderson says Code Club is less about providing an educational pathway, and more about allowing kids to have fun and opening their eyes to the opportunities that exist in this field. It is also about exploring hidden talents and passions. “It’s not that every child is a computer scientist, it’s more that you don’t know you’re good at something until you stumble upon it by accident,” says Henderson.
“What I love about Code Club, as an educator, is that the tamariki are producing rather than consuming.” Henderson gives the example of a girl in a Code Club she has worked with who displayed great attention to detail, ensuring that every pixel looked just right. “We want her to be part of the design process at the front end,” she says. Indeed, the recent announcement about integrating digital technologies into the curriculum has drawn some emotional responses from the tech sector about the importance of exposing children to this multi-faceted field. “Many children have their sights set on being a YouTuber or gamer – many have no idea of how digital technology filtrates everything we do. There is going to be a huge shortage of people with the right set of skills,” says Henderson. Concerns have been raised about the dearth of funding to support the necessary professional development in this area. Henderson says ideally they would like to roll out the CS4PS training to many teachers around the country, but they are currently limited by the funding. It is arguably too much for one university, as well, and no doubt there will exist opportunities for collaboration among New Zealand universities and industry partners to help roll out some of these initiatives to schools and communities around New Zealand. The pace of technological change means we need to keep up. There is a vast number of eager young Kiwi minds waiting to learn about coding. We shouldn’t keep them waiting much longer.
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PPTA president ANGELA ROBERTS says teachers are dismayed to see bulk funding included in the Ministry of Education’s school funding proposals.
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not bulk funding
eachers have sounded the warning – bulk funding is coming our way… again. When I read that Treasury has warned cabinet it doesn’t even know how schools are currently funded, or whether that funding is adequate, it is bewildering to consider that bulk funding (now with the sexy 2016 moniker ‘Global Budget’) could even be on the table. But on the table it is, as part of a review of school funding ordered by the Minister of Education. Out of scope of the review is the adequacy of current funding levels, and all changes will be made from within the current budget. We are part of the funding review advisory group and are taking this role very seriously. The results of recommendations made by this group will have a massive and significant impact on the whole sector. That we can’t recommend schools be funded properly makes our task very difficult.
There are aspects of the funding plan that have potential, and we look forward to working on those with the Minister when bulk funding has been taken off the table. The people who teach our young people want the very best for them. This education funding review is a once in a generation opportunity to get it right, to make sure we resource education so our children and young people get the best teaching and learning. We know bulk funding will only make things worse. There is no evidence that it would make our education system work better, as the New Zealand Council for Educational Research study into the last time it was tried here shows. In fact, Treasury has said that a global budget would have no short term impact on student achievement. We’d take it further and say that a global budget would negatively impact student achievement.
A global budget would force schools to make terrible decisions between resources and teachers. Students need more laptops, a school nurse or an additional teacher aide? Simple; cash in a teacher. And research from around the world shows that teachers are what make the difference to student achievement. Currently, a staffing formula guarantees students have reasonably equitable access to the most important asset of the education system, teaching staff. It ensures schools employ adequate numbers of teachers to deliver the curriculum and provides predictability for planning at a school and national level. With a global budget, that’s out the window. A global budget could also see class sizes increase or limit the breadth of the curriculum for many schools. We feel for the principals who will have to make the decisions about whether to buy a lawnmower or offer music or art. We need programmes that support our whole diversity of young people. Restricting their learning is something we simply cannot accept.
A global budget would force schools to make terrible decisions between resources and teachers. Students need more laptops, a school nurse or an additional teacher aide? Simple; cash in a teacher. The Education Council says that it does not support “trade-offs being made by boards … between funding certificated teachers and either unqualified teachers, or other non-teaching resources”. The global budget means exactly this. It is our view that any trade-offs should remain the responsibility of central government, and not be laid at the feet of schools, which have no power to increase the size of the pot. There has been no evidence provided to the funding review advisory group that the sector has asked for this, and the early response makes it clear it is not welcomed. The advantages will be for the Government’s books, not schools, not teachers and not students. That’s why over 60,000 teachers are meeting during September. We have never undertaken meetings of this scale before and it was not a decision taken lightly. We know these meetings will put extra pressure on already busy parents but we believe parents, teachers and young people themselves have a shared interest in getting the right funding to achieve the best teaching and learning. Teachers have long been calling for changes to the funding model to address the disparities in student achievement, the pressure that schools are under, and develop a modern, future-focused education system. We didn’t sign up to a review that’s about reducing the Government’s fiscal liabilities, which seems to be the sole benefit of global budget bulk funding.
Ministry’s response Ministry of Education Deputy Secretary ELLEN MacGREGOR-REID says the funding review isn’t primarily about a global budget. We’ve heard quite a bit in recent days on concerns about proposals for a ‘global budget’ for schools. What’s being forgotten in the rush to judge is that the funding review isn’t primarily about a global budget. The education leaders who make up the funding advisory group are grappling with a much bigger question. That question is how the $11 billion that goes on early childhood education and schooling each year can best be provided to support children’s learning. Let’s rewind to where this all began – with the unhappiness right across education about the decile system. Parents, teachers and principals all know decile-rated funding has flaws. Yes, schools that draw many of their students from low-income communities get more funding. But too often a low decile rating is seen by parents as a sign that this is not a desirable school. What’s more, decile funding isn’t always accurately matched to need. Now, advances in information technology mean it is possible to explore what a much more finely grained funding system might look like. While addressing the limitations of the decile system initially spurred this review, it also provided an opportunity to look wider than that. The challenge that has been set by the Government is to design a funding system that puts the child at the heart of that $11 billion funding. That means focusing funding on learning and achievement, matching funding to the curriculum, aligning funding to the size of the education challenge, and getting the right resources to the right child at the right time. What does that mean in practice? We don’t have all the answers yet. We’ve put up the first draft of what we think could work and we’ve been seeking input from education leaders, including representatives from the NZEI and the PPTA, to test these ideas.
We think a good funding system, one based on the child, should be much simpler. So we’re proposing three big ingredients. The decile system would be replaced under these proposals. The funding proposals that we have been talking to education leaders about have three core elements: A per-child funding amount for schools and ECE service that reflects what is needed to deliver the curriculum to children. An additional amount for children and young people at most risk of educational under-achievement. Here, we want to see if we can replace the decile system with an alternative that gives extra support to our most vulnerable students, without unfairly stigmatising them or their schools. Supplementary funding for small and isolated schools and services to ensure these services are viable. There are four supporting proposals: A global budget for schools, for better flexibility and simplified administration. Clear expectations and better information on the link between funding and educational outcomes. Separating funding for property-related costs, for more clarity between property and learning costs. A direct link between the private school subsidy and the per-child funding amount provided to state schools. ‘The Minister will use the report from the funding advisory group, and information from regional engagement to help inform a Cabinet paper. Cabinet will determine what the next steps will be. These are very early days. Any changes won’t be introduced until 2019 at the earliest. There would be several years of testing of any proposals with detailed design work and modelling so that we can see the impact of any changes. And if there is a decision to progress change, we will continue to work alongside the education sector on the details in the coming years.
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Innovative learning environments:
where’s the evidence? MARK OSBORNE suggests that when teacher pedagogy and physical learning environments are aligned there are significant gains to be made in achievement.
ith all the attention on innovative learning environments (ILEs) at the moment it’s understandable that many people are seeking clear, empirical evidence that learning spaces positively impact on outcomes for learners. Teacher time is precious and resources are scarce; if we’re going to implement a new approach, we should be fairly certain that it’s going to make a difference for our learners before we embark on any kind of innovation. Helpfully, some key pieces of research are showing that learning environments can, and do, make a difference to outcomes for learners. What’s very clear from the research is that ‘buildings alone are not enough; it is about relationships and changing cultures and practices’. No educator will be surprised to hear that bricks and mortar on their own won’t change outcomes for learners, we know that learning is a lot more sophisticated than that. Having acknowledged that though, what’s emerging from the research is how much impact a combination of skilled, reflective educators and complementary physical environments can have on learning.
Recent advances in fields such as neuroscience have confirmed what many have suspected for a long time: that when it comes to learning ‘variability is the rule, not the exception’. We all have different needs and preferences when it comes to learning and when those needs and preferences are met, we learn faster and we learn more. One of the drivers behind much of the work taking place in learning environments at the moment is a desire to ensure the physical environment is inclusive and supports all learners as well as it can.
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Approaches such as Universal Design for Learning help us to ensure that all learner needs are met: those who need to read and reflect can find quiet spaces to do this; those who need to draw diagrams, build models, think aloud, explain to others, or work closely with a teacher can do so. This thinking extends to the choice and arrangement of furniture in a learning environment as well. A couple of recent studies have demonstrated that providing learners with the opportunity to work at standing tables improved their working memory and increased their level of on-task behaviour by 12 per cent or an extra seven minutes per hour. In a world where primary-aged children sit on average for around nine hours a day, providing the opportunity to stand up is good for their bodies as well as their learning.
Culturally responsive spaces
Another key driver in the design of learning environments at the moment is an acknowledgement that there is a strong link between wellbeing and achievement, and that students’ wellbeing is strongly influenced by “a clear sense of identity, and access and exposure to their own language and culture”. For Māori learners this means an environment where reo and tikanga are supported and enhanced, but it also means being given the opportunity to learn in an environment that promotes approaches outlined in documents such as Tātaiako: Ako: learning from and with each other. Peer tutoring, tuakana/teina, reciprocal teaching and collaborative learning spaces.
Manaakitanga: building on student strengths by providing spaces that allow learners to exercise those strengths: collaboration; reflection; digital media production; visual arts; physical movement and dance; performance. Tangata whenuatanga: acknowledging and linking to the history of the land to create authentic, real-world context for understanding ourselves and our community. The learning that takes place outside the classroom is just as important as the learning that takes place within it. Wānanga: spaces that allow larger groups to come together to collectively explore some big concept or to engage in problem-solving. The traditional classroom in schools works well for small and medium-sized groups but makes it very difficult to get diverse communities together to engage in learning. What’s also clear from a lot of this research is that what works for Māori often works for others, particularly Pasifika learners: we can raise achievement for all students by designing and using spaces that promote these whakaaro.
Beyond these guiding principles, there is also a growing body of hard, concrete evidence connecting learning environments and increased student achievement. In particular, two crucial studies have been published over the last two years. The first is a study from the University of Salford entitled ‘Clever Classrooms’ that found that “differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms explain 16 per cent of the variation in learning progress over a year”. This 16 per cent variation is significant; it’s the equivalent of the impact that a teacher has on learning over the
What’s emerging from the research is how much impact a combination of skilled, reflective educators and complementary physical environments can have on learning.
course of a year. One question the study gives rise to is, “What are these ‘differences’ in environment?” The study suggests that outside of getting right things like temperature, air quality and acoustics, one of the crucial areas of focus is what the researchers refer to as ‘individualisation’, or the learning environment’s ability to provide learners with what they need for their learning. In short, to accommodate our growing awareness that ‘variability is the rule, not the exception’. Some features of the physical environment that help educators to accommodate this kind of variability include: breakout zones or rooms: the study found that these impact positively on learning by ensuring that learners could find a quiet space to read or write or do something reflective; or a space where they could be noisy and excited without negatively impacting on other learners learning zones: a variety of learning settings that can accommodate a range of different kinds of teaching and learning activities, such as writing, research, performance, collaboration, peer-tutoring, direct instruction or experimentation varied floor plans: these support varied teaching and learning better than traditional ‘box’ classrooms, which often have a single ‘front’ to the room which is often occupied by the teacher.
A second study recently published by the University of Melbourne confirmed a connection between ILEs and student achievement in secondary schools. The study compared two cohorts from the same school – one that learned in an ILE and one that learned in traditional classrooms. Factors such as curriculum, student ability, class construction, assessment and the teacher were controlled in order to focus solely on the impact of the learning environment. The study found the ILEs led to increases in a range of outcomes for the students including increased behavioural and cognitive engagement, and increases in the range of active, collaborative, personalised, and student-centred learning experiences. Perhaps the most crucial finding from this study was related to student achievement: the researchers found that overall student achievement for the ILE cohort increased by an average of 15 per cent across English, mathematics and humanities. That’s a significant improvement in outcomes for learners, facilitated by a change in the learning environment. As these last two studies attest, there is a growing body of research that suggests that when teacher pedagogy and physical learning environments are matching, there are significant gains to be made in achievement.
In a system that appears to be increasingly focused on quantitative measures of progress, it’s important to remember that qualitative measures are also important. Metrics such as student (and teacher) wellbeing, sense of belonging, enjoyment (fun even!) directly impact on a learner’s academic success in both early childhood centres and schools. What’s reassuring about the current crop of research into learning environments is that putting the needs of people first not only leads to positive affective results but positive gains in achievement too.
Mark Osborne is a senior advisor in FutureFocused Education at CORE Education, particularly in the areas of innovative learning environments, and change leadership. Mark’s personal mission is to turn all schools into awesomeness incubators, and he is currently completing his PhD on change leadership in innovative learning environments at the University of Melbourne. For references to this article please contact email@example.com.
Go to www.educationreview.co.nz Education Review series
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Online learning communities:
COOL idea or not? The proposal for new online learning communities has sparked suggestions that we’re about to unleash online charter schools onto New Zealand education.
ike gifts under the Christmas tree, some of the proposals in the Education (Update) Amendment Bill are predictable, like the NELP (National Education and Learning Priorities), for example, which is all about holding schools, kura and ECE providers accountable to student achievement. Like gifts, some proposals are welcome, like the proposal to allow new entrants to start school on the first day of a term closest to their fifth birthday. Some we are less sure about, like the possibility for the Ministry to merge school Boards to help resolve ongoing issues. And some are completely unexpected and controversial – like the new Communities of Online Learning (COOLs). Education Minister Hekia Parata says the COOLs will be open to as wide a range of potential providers as possible. She says there will be a rigorous accreditation process alongside ongoing monitoring to ensure quality education is being provided. “This innovative way of delivering education offers a digital option to engage students, grow
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their digital fluency, and connect them even more to 21st century opportunities.” However, not everyone shares the Minister’s enthusiasm for the idea. NZ First does not support the proposal. MP Tracey Martin says Parata has missed the point regarding what the IT sector was looking for in terms of incorporating digital technologies into learning at school. The PPTA describes the move to allow corporate entities to enter the education market as “blatant privatisation”. “Learning online is already here, ask any parent with children at school,” says PPTA President Angela Roberts, “What this does is open up a market for any provider to get public funding to offer online education, in competition with public schools.” NZEI president Louise Green agrees. She says New Zealand schools already offer online learning integrated with face-to-face teaching. The main issue in her view is providing more support and resourcing to improve equity of access. News of the COOLs comes at the same time as the possibility that the funding review might result in a standardised per-child amount being provided in a cash sum to schools. Roberts is concerned that there is the potential for student vouchers to be used to fund private online schools. She also questions the rationale behind the COOLs. “There are two wildly incorrect assumptions that underpin this idea,” says Roberts, “One is that online learning can substitute for face-to-face, and the other is that a more competitive market in education is going to lead to better results. Both of these fly in the face of all the evidence.”
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Iain Taylor, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) agrees, describing the COOLs proposal as “ridiculous”. “The literature is bulging with studies showing the importance of social engagement and building relationships with teachers and peers as precursors to successful learning, especially for struggling learners. Employers are telling us kids need to be team builders, engaging and have a developed sense of civic and community service and be creative and critical thinkers. How will they learn these skills shut away at the kitchen table with a tablet?” The union leaders point to international evidence where similar approaches to education have failed. “Experience of online schooling in the United States is woeful and all the evidence is clear that high-quality teaching is the single biggest influence in-school on children’s achievement, particularly for our most vulnerable learners,” says Green. However, the COOLs proposal has drawn support from Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) correspondence school, which would become an accredited online provider under the scheme. Te Kura board of trustees chair Karen Sewell welcomes the changes, which she says will bring more flexibility to the education system. “The quality of schooling in New Zealand is very high, but some students struggle to achieve success in a traditional school setting,” she told Stuff. “Students could choose to learn online or face-toface, or a mix of both, and have access to a much broader range of subjects regardless of the size and type of school they’re attending.” Labour supports the initiative if it is used as an approach to modernise Te Kura, however the party is not keen to see the emergence of online charter schools.
e D é Z a R pupils Po K - c JUDE BARBACK finds out what all the fuss is about with the Pokémon Go game and whether Kiwi teachers are banning it, embracing it or hoping it will go away.
hen I first heard of Pokémon Go, I dismissed it out of mind. It won’t catch on, I thought. No need to learn what this fad is all about. I remember thinking that about Twitter. However, Pokémon Go has more daily users than Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder and Instagram, and more user engagement than Facebook. It’s the fastest-ever mobile app to hit 10 million downloads, having surpassed that mark in its first week. Once again, I was wrong. This thing is huge. So it was with a weary reluctance that I reacquainted myself with those irritating cartoon characters that I thought had died 10 years ago. It turns out that, thanks to augmented reality, Pikachu and his little gang of pocket monsters are alive and well and possibly sitting on a mailbox, or table, or fencepost near you. The Pokémon Go augmented reality game is already topping app charts for iPhone and Android apps since its release in early July. The game uses GPS on smartphones to track players’ movements as they try to find and catch different Pokémon, which are graphics superimposed onto real environments. It seems everyone has returned from the school holidays with a Poké story to share. Did you hear about the person who ran into a stranger’s house to find a Pokémon? Or about night-time Pokéhunters helping fight crime in Rotorua by roaming the parks looking for Pokémon?
Ban it or embrace it?
I feel for the teachers in all of this. After all, it is our educators who spend their days with these millennial digital natives who take to tech crazes like this quicker than ducks take to water. How does algebra compete with an augmented reality app? However, schools with a clear smartphone policy in place don’t have a problem with students being preoccupied with the game. James Hargest College associate principal Nadia Rose told Stuff that the Pokémon Go game hasn’t been an issue at all. “Our students aren’t able to use their phones in class unless directed by a teacher.” Also, the fact that a lot of data is needed once you go roaming for Pokémon outside of a Wi-Fi zone is a deterrent for many teens. Most would rather save their precious data for Snapchat and messaging each other. Fifteen-year-old Thomas White in Tauranga says as far as he is aware his school doesn’t have
any rules about the game. In any case, he doesn’t see it as a distraction. “Because you have to move around to play the game, I don’t think it distracts anyone from schoolwork as they cannot progress in the game standing still.” One knee-jerk reaction might be to ban Pokémon Go at school. But Pokémon Go might just provide new opportunities for student engagement and learning. In Discovery Education, educator Kathy Schrock says harnessing student excitement of the game can easily be used to support all kinds of fun and pedagogically-sound lessons and activities. She suggests several lessons the game can be used to teach students, from virtual design and photography to digital storytelling to data literacy to maths to geography. “No matter what subject you teach, there could be potential opportunities. Meet students where they are, and funnel the attention and passion they have for these sorts of games to the classroom for learning,” suggests US site ‘K12 Insights’.
As someone who relishes exercise and the precious moments of unplugged freedom it provides, it is difficult to lump too much praise on Pokémon Go for getting device-dependent young people fit. Yet, in the same way Wii Fit infused technology with fitness, Pokémon Go is indeed coaxing gamers from their couches. One of society’s bugbears is the levels of physical inactivity associated with technology use. Certainly Pokémon’s origins on the screens of televisions and Game Boys contributed to this. But this is the twist of augmented reality – it gets techy types outside. At last they can combine Jellicent with jogging! Virgin Active did just that, hosting the world’s first ever ‘Pokérun’ in Central London soon after the app’s release. Their personal trainers led a load of Pokémon hunters and runners on a 5km run, stopping regularly at pokéstops to ‘catch ’em all’. With childhood obesity on the rise, many health experts have lauded the game for motivating kids to exercise. The design of the game encourages players to move around outside using the map on the phone’s screen to find a Pokémon. When one is found, players tap on it, then must flick “Pokéballs” at it to capture it. Players gain levels as a trainer – the higher the level you are, the more powerful Pokémon you are able to find to complete your “Pokédex” – your collection of Pokémon.
US blogger Tess Koman experimented with forgoing her usual exercise regime for a week of catching Pokémon instead. “I wanted to tell you I abandoned the gym for a week to catch Pokémon and am now in the best shape of my life, but it wouldn’t be true. In reality, catching Pokémon on my walk to the gym is much more satisfying than catching them instead of it.”
Of course, the flipside of getting out and about – especially with a phone in one hand and waving the other in a zombie-like fashion – is the increased likelihood of a fall or mishap. There’s also a high chance of common sense failure; have you heard about the game player who walked into traffic, and the one who hopped over a fence at the zoo? What about the one who fell off a cliff? Then there is Pokémon Posture. This is actually a thing, according to international posture expert Dr Steven Weiniger, who warns that the greater health risk for most people playing the game is to their posture. Avid Pokémon hunters are set to experience the same problems as frequent texters, computer users and others suffering from tech-neck. Amid the antics are also some valid safety concerns about young people using the app. Many parents have urged their children not to join older people or people they don’t know who tell them they are playing the game. They are also advised not to venture off by themselves to find more Pokémon and ensure their phones are fully charged. Some parents have said they use the location services on their children’s phones to keep an eye on them. Whether teachers choose to jump on the Pokébandwagon themselves or shake their heads in denial, chances are high that some of their pupils might be part-time Poké-hunters as well. Tauranga student Thomas White, however, doesn’t think it is here to stay. “I was curious at the start and downloaded the app because of the hype around it. Spent an hour on it and deleted it. Most of my friends were the same. I think most people downloaded the app because of the talk around it, and as the craze dies down will not continue to play it.” So perhaps Pokémon Go is just a fad after all, and I could have safely let this one pass me by. But where’s the fun in that?
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Boards of Trustees
“Just like a game of tennis” Serving on a school board On the back of the triennial Board of Trustee elections and this year’s New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) conference, Education Review asks NZSTA’s Elaine Hines about where new trustees should be channeling their enthusiasm.
ith school boards of trustees having just completed their triennial elections, there were many new trustees among the 921 people attending the annual New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) conference in Wellington last month. There were also seasoned trustees, staff trustees, principals, deputy principals and a small handful of student trustees attending, all with the same goal of learning about the role their board of trustees plays and how they can contribute to the board effectively. Maungawhau School principal Delanee Dale was among the 87 principals present. She was impressed by the sheer number of the parent trustees in attendance and their general enthusiasm for the task at hand. “The challenge now is working out how to channel the enthusiasm to develop high functioning and effective boards.” Elaine Hines, NZSTA Manager Operations, agrees this is important as new boards are established and learn about the task at hand. Hines likens the principal-board relationship to a doubles tennis match. Principals and trustees need to be aware that they’re on the same side of the court, she says. They also need to know their opposition; it might be student underachievement or another area of concern for the school. “Board members should always be on court playing the game – not in the stands spectating, not umpiring and not commentating.” Hines extends the tennis analogy to explain how boards deal with difficult situations or areas of uncertainty.
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When a ball lands directly in the centre, they need to communicate whose ball it is, not just let it go, she says. Similarly, when a ball is missed, it is important to figure out how it could have been played differently. “These grey areas are actually really important, as they test the strength of the board’s relationships. When things go wrong, can we laugh about it and address the problem, or do we play the blame game?” From her experience, Hines says boards typically run into problems for the same reason. “For me, it usually boils down to a lack of policy around ‘how we do things around here’,” she says. “It’s important to have a really good induction process and to review policies around code of conduct, relationships, roles and responsibilities – and then to review these regularly.”
“Board members should always be on court playing the game – not in the stands spectating, not umpiring and not commentating.” Hines talks about the importance of trustees learning the ‘rules of the game’. “By this I mean not just the overarching governance rules, and also the local rules that look at the school policies, the school charter and essentially ‘what is it we’re trying to achieve here?’” Hines says a board’s primary focus is student achievement. In 2013, the Education Act was amended to make it clear that boards’ most important duty
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is to ensure students reach their highest possible educational standard. The Act is currently undergoing a more major update and the revised legislation is expected to “make everything about learning”, according to Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye, who addressed the conference. Kaye outlined the Ministry’s work programme including the funding review, strengthening the teaching profession, implementing the Communities of Learning, the social investment analysis and its impact on learning. She also talked to delegates about the investment into schools’ digital infrastructure and the roll out of the N4L Managed Network. Conference delegates were also informed of some of assessment practices including Overall Teacher Judgments (OTJs) and the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT). It seems a tall order for parent trustees to be expected to grasp so many concepts relating to teaching and learning, with which principals and teachers are familiar. Yet NZSTA president Lorraine Kerr says boards of trustees have a responsibility to ensure that students in their school get the benefit of the whole curriculum. With the role of parent trustees pertaining to student achievement, it is important for them to gain a basic understanding of curriculum, assessment and other aspects of teaching and learning. “No one is more committed to student achievement than parents,” says Hines. Hines stands by the mantra ‘knowledge is power’ and advises new trustees to soak up as much professional development as they can to help them gain an understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
Digital disruption should we embrace it? Global Director for Education at Polycom, ELAINE SHUCK discusses how to manage the disruption of digital technology in the classroom.
Educators and administrators need to evolve their teaching styles to complement technology – and truly embrace and believe in it – to create even more impact with students.
any of you will be familiar with the case in Australia earlier in the year where a prestigious Sydney school decided to take the bold move of banning laptops in the classroom. They believed technology in the classroom was distracting and diverting from old-school methods and quality teaching. As no doubt many of you were, I was astonished by this decision. In today’s age of digital connectivity, this is a bold move for any school to take. Particularly, when you consider that in New Zealand, the Ministry of Education announced in July that digital technologies will be written into The New Zealand Curriculum. This reflects the Government’s commitment to championing 21st century practice in teaching and learning. Of course, there are always two sides to every argument, however, it’s important to be clear on the purpose and relevance of technology in education. So let’s explore this further. When we refer to technology in the classroom, it is not limited to laptops or smart devices. It can be any tool which promotes collaboration and learning – be it a tablet device, video conferencing, the latest app or digital white-boarding. Sure, a few years ago laptops, tablets and applications may have once (and perhaps still!) been considered distractions in a traditional sense. However, with access to technology in today’s classrooms being the norm rather than the exception, technology is usually regarded as a valuable learning tool, enabling new ways of learning and providing access to valuable resources to support teachers and enrich student learning – all designed to help students of today learn the critical skills they will need to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow.
Technology in the Classroom: Bring Your Own Balance (BYOB)
For me, to make best use of technology in a 21st century learning environment, it’s really important to determine its role within the classroom. It isn’t sufficient enough to just deploy technology such as video and content collaboration in a classroom; educators and administrators need to evolve their teaching styles to complement technology – and truly embrace and believe in it – to create even more impact with students. As explained so well by Carolyn AlexanderBennett from FarNet (see next page), there is a role for everyone, from student to teacher and family, in ensuring the use of technology within the learning environment does not become a distraction. For me it’s a bit like cooking; success is all about selecting the right ingredients and striking the right balance to achieve the desired results. In a modern learning environment where we are actively encouraging skills like critical thinking and problem solving, involving students in owning and working through a collaborative solution to address the issue seems to makes sense. Teachers and lecturers can also work out ways to better integrate technology into the learning process and parents can also get involved by monitoring school-related app and device usage at home. At the end of the day, technology is neither a replacement for teaching methods nor for teachers. Instead, it is the gateway to personalising learning and providing a more collaborative approach to education for the future.
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In a modern learning environment where we are actively encouraging skills like critical thinking and problem solving, involving students in owning and working through a collaborative solution to address the issue seems to makes sense.
Disruption up close Elaine Shuck asks CAROLYN ALEXANDER-BENNETT, e-principal at FarNet and chair of the Virtual Learning Network Community (VLNC) Council about how to manage technology disruption in the classroom.
What is your view on this school’s approach of ‘going back to basics’ and removing technology from the classroom environment? Do you think this type of approach will be effective for students and their educational needs? Carolyn Alexander-Bennett (C A-B): For small rural schools in our online community, to take this approach would be institutional suicide as senior students would have to leave their school and community to attend larger schools. Instead, we are harnessing technology to provide students living in rural areas with access to teachers and learning experiences not currently available to them in their own schools. So, what do the “basics” look like in a 21st century learning environment? It was not so long ago that technologies like laptops and tablets were seen as the new and exciting tools to have in the classroom. Today, for many students and teachers, being able to use laptops at school is as commonplace as using digital whiteboards. Both are everyday essentials that help educators and students get the job done. It’s fair to say that in today’s digitally connected world, schools could not run their administration departments without the use of technology. If you apply this same principle to the classroom, it would be reasonable to suggest that our students will not be adequately prepared for their future work lives if there is no access to technology in the learning environment.
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I do believe that we can have an overuse of technology, and sometimes an abuse of technology, so it is about being mindful of this and finding balance, otherwise we will be doing our current learners a huge disservice. We need to continue to think about the pedagogy underpinning the use of technology, rather than the other way around.
Based on your experience, what advice do you have for teachers on how they can tackle and eliminate the issue of technology and devices causing disruption in their classroom? C A-B: Be mindful as to what they are using, why they are using it and what they hope to achieve or where they hope to add value to the learners. We teach students how to cross roads safely, why not teach them how to cross online roads safely? For me it’s a bit like learning to read versus reading to learn. Once students and teachers understand the fundamentals of how to use their technology effectively, the learning is no longer focused on the technology itself. Instead the focus is on gaining a deeper understanding of the subject matter and the technology is merely the tool that helps make that learning process easier. If technology is not enhancing that learning experience, then simply don’t use it, but don’t ban it. If the technology is causing disruption in classrooms, encourage student voice in the decisions around fixing the problem, rather than making one blanket decision that affects all.
What do you believe should be driving the use of technology in classrooms of today and tomorrow? C A-B: Pedagogy should be driving the use of technology in classrooms of today and not the other way around. Pedagogy has never changed and it should underpin all that we do. We know from the masses of research around the importance of building relationships that this has a huge impact on student learning. Supporting the positive relationships between students, and between students and their teacher, and between
the teacher and whānau develops a sense of belonging and wellbeing which will improve learning outcomes. For our online students, the relationships are built purely through the use of technology, like Polycom video collaboration technology and without this they would not be engaged in their learning.
The New Zealand Government is continuing to invest in equipping teachers and students with technologies that will support a 21st century learning environment, ensuring they will have the skills to compete and succeed in the workplace of the future. Do you think this is the right approach? C A-B: I think the difference between what our government has done and versus our Australian counterparts, is that New Zealand schools still have the choice of the technologies they want to use. Through their operating grants they are able to purchase the technology they see is fitting for their own schools and through the TELA laptop programme, the choice of laptops and devices is a school’s decision. This is quite different from having all the technology rolled out to all schools as I understand occurs in Australian schools, so I would agree that model would be a waste of money. Schools need to think about the pedagogy and what they want to achieve and find the right technology to be able to achieve this.
Do you have any success stories or examples from within the FarNet network of schools that you would like to share? C A-B: I am currently in Ashburton with my Samoan teacher, who has used technology, through a Polycom video conferencing device, to meet with his students from Ashburton. Additionally, other students have also joined us from Selwyn College, Wellington High School and Roxburgh Area School. While they have developed a great relationship through the use of technology, having the face-to-face interaction delivered through video has deepened the strength of the relationships between all participants in the class and therefore enhanced the potential for collaborative learning.
You don’t have to be locked into low achievement just because you are poor.
Closing the rich-poor divide in literacy
Massey University’s PROFESSOR TOM NICHOLSON says we need to redesign the literacy that is taught in our schools so that it works for those in lower socio-economic communities.
ew research by Otago University again puts the spotlight on the two-year gap between rich and poor schools that has disadvantaged our poorest children in the last 20 years. Many of these children are Māori and Pasifika, making the issue even more concerning. We know from research the cycle of failure begins in the first year of school. At Massey University’s Institute of Education we were able to demonstrate this vividly in a recent study, soon to be published in Journal of Educational Research, where we followed a group of 126 children from a range of socio-economic suburbs for 15 months, starting from their first day of school through their first year and two summer holidays. After 15 months of schooling, children in the poorer suburbs were still reading at an early five-year-old level, while children in more affluent suburbs were reading at a six-year-old level or better.
How can we close the gap?
Some will say it is impossible to overcome the disadvantage of a poor home background, an impoverished neighbourhood and a low decile school. But that doesn’t stack up – there are many in our society who experienced hardship and poverty yet still learned to read and write. You don’t have to be locked into low achievement just because you are poor. Some will say the answer is better teachers and better leaders, but these latest findings show the cycle of failure has resisted the money spent on these initiatives. This makes sense – even the hardest working and best teacher or principal will
struggle if there are too many children not learning. It is really hard to turn around these statistics if children are still failing in years 4 and 8. The answer has to be different to the ones we have been trying and it has to start early. I don’t want to relitigate the great reading debate. The answer is not about phonics or the book reading method. Clearly, we need both. But how well equipped are our teachers to teach these methods well? The 1980s was the last time we saw a major teacher professional development initiative that reached out to all teachers to explain the book reading approach. Since then we have made new discoveries about literacy and in this new age of digital learning the internet can help us achieve literacy for all. It is time to tackle professional development again but do it better. I have always been a great fan of phonics, believing it will solve all our problems, but it has to be part of a bigger picture. Surely it is time to review the present picture and the current reading methods, as the famous Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading by Sir James Rose did in England in 2006. Having spent my academic career trying to solve these issues, I have a strong, evidencedbased idea of what does work. In a recent randomised, controlled Massey study published in Frontiers in Psychology, we were able to raise the literacy levels of year 2 Māori and Pasifika children attending schools in poorer areas of Auckland to average levels, with just a small change to current methods.
We discovered a combination of book reading and phonics achieved better results across a number of key literacy areas than either of these approaches on their own. In the study, a group of 96 six-year-olds (nearly all Māori and Pasifika) from disadvantaged schools were randomly put into an intervention group or a control group. After only 12 lessons of 30 minutes once a week over several months, the intervention group was at average levels for their age in word reading and approaching average in reading accuracy, comprehension, and spelling. The control groups, however, were still behind. On the other hand, I have to be realistic. Everyone with a stake in education will have their own solutions to the present crisis. This is good. But we can’t keep on doing what has not been working. If our poorest children are not learning to be literate then it must be the way we are teaching them. It’s been 30 years since we have considered what makes the best way to teach reading and writing. It is time to do it again, to redesign the literacy that is taught in our schools so that it works for the poor, the strugglers, and especially for Māori. We need to create new foundations for real success, to make New Zealand number one in literacy again, and help all our children achieve their dreams.
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Slaves to servers or heads in the cloud?
Education Review looks at why schools should overcome their fears and leap completely into the cloud.
he cloud seems to be where every school is heading these days. With tools like Google Apps for Education and Teacher Dashboard at teachers’ fingertips, it is easy to understand the appeal of cloud-based technology. Reliance on costly, storage-sparse, maintenance-hungry inschool servers appears to be diminishing rapidly. However, while there is an increasing uptake of cloud services, many schools still have a foot firmly in the server camp. IT services company Dynamo6 says that such an approach makes life more complex and expensive for schools. The Hamilton and Aucklandbased company is in the business of helping schools and organisations move to the cloud. The company launched in 2013 and has experienced exponential growth due to the growing demands for cloud-based solutions. “Instead of feeding and watering servers, we’re adding value in a different way,” says managing director Igor Matich.
Why are schools still reluctant to move to the cloud?
There is certainly support for schools to use cloud services, from technology companies to the Ministry of Education. “The Ministry has done a great thing in upgrading the capability for every school to achieve excellent connectivity,” he says. The Ministry also funds the NZ Schools Microsoft Agreement, which now includes more cloud tools to enable schools to run less infrastructure to support the technology they are running. The government-funded Managed Network N4L brings fast internet to every school in the country and is compatible with cloud-based systems. Troy Martin of global Learning Management System (LMS) provider Canvas agrees. “The New Zealand Government has recognised that technology can have a hugely positive impact across the education sector, and has already made great strides with its programme to connect schools to fibre broadband, and encouraging the use of connected devices in classrooms.” However, Martin believes progress is being slowed because procurement processes are not keeping pace with technological advances. “The global education software market was previously based on complex, expensive and
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restrictive software licenses and ring-fenced, vendor-provided services. Now a new model has evolved, based on developments like cloud-based software, which can be provided and consumed from anywhere, and with open standards that enable API and LTI integrations institutions can use complementary tools, which empower teachers and engages students.” Matich says schools’ reluctance to become 100 per cent cloud-based stems from a fear of moving out of their comfort zones. “The issue we have is one of changing people’s behaviour. Many teachers in leadership positions have learned in an era of server-based learning systems. This is what they are used to so it’s natural this is what they are comfortable with.” Matich says many schools have IT teams dedicated to infrastructure and they have control over the system. “The problem we often find is the service providers working with the schools don’t take full advantage of all the services on offer to create a low-cost and flexible cloud-based environment,” he says. “Instead they still use the server as the foundation and this often gets in the way of flexible learning, quick adoption of new learning apps and just costs more to upgrade and manage. “The main result is the school IT resource is spent on systems management and not supporting the students as they learn. We just think this is a wasted opportunity and affects learning.” Matich also thinks some might have concerns about data security in the cloud. However, as he points out, people are used to working in the cloud in their everyday personal lives and data security isn’t really an issue. Young people are becoming accustomed to working any time, from anywhere and on any device. By the time they reach the tertiary sector they come armed with their own tools, their own emails. They don’t want to be restricted by server technology. “Why would they want to change to infrastructure that’s different from the way they work? Even email isn’t used very much anymore with the proliferation of instant messaging,” said Matich. He believes schools should be adopting systems that reflect the natural evolution of how people are using technology as they progress through education into higher education and the workforce. Troy Martin says it’s important for schools and institutions to think about the end user when
making decisions about their technology set-up. “Cloud-architected services that provide an ‘anywhere, anytime, on any platform’ solution for both teachers and learners deliver on the promise of ease of use and high rates of adoption. What we see around the world is that unless procurement is based around driving up user adoption, the tender process quite often fails to find the right solutions for the right problems. It maintains the status quo, rather than adding value to the learning and teaching experience,” he says.
When is it a good time to switch to the cloud?
Matich says he expects two pressures in education will force more schools to completely move to the cloud. “The first is cost – research shows potential productivity gains of up to 700 per cent for organisations only using cloud-based services. “The second is the ability to provide the best education possible from cloud-based services – learning can be adapted and tailored quickly and easily, and students can learn anywhere and at any time, in or outside school.” Matich says it is a great option for new schools and Dynamo6 has implemented cloud-based systems for Hamilton’s new Rototuna Junior High School as well as the new Endeavour Primary School in Flagstaff. However, it is easier for server-based schools to make the change than they might think. Hamilton Boys’ High School, Otumoetai Intermediate School and St Joseph’s School Onehunga have all implemented cloud-based systems. Matich says there is often a natural point where schools decide it is time to make a change. “Things like storage space can prompt a school to move from server to the cloud. Instead of investing capital expenditure on extending storage space, they can take advantage of the cloud.” Matich says the schools they’ve worked with have not regretted making the switch. “The feedback we’ve received is ‘wish we’d made the change to cloud earlier’ and ‘we never look back’. “It’s really liberating for the user. Instead of being restricted by IT controls, they can pick the best tools at their disposal.”
Building the digital universities of tomorrow
ew Zealand’s tertiary education sector has much to feel positive about at present. The current Government has boosted funding to the sector for the first time in a decade. This, amongst other things, has helped boost the global ranking of our universities: according to the latest global QS World University Rankings all New Zealand universities are ranked in the top three per cent worldwide. Sector body Universities New Zealand rightly claims this will help attract more top academic talent and high fee-paying international students to our shores at a time when global competition is fierce. But despite these positives, universities here and overseas are facing the increasingly harsh reality of students, teachers, and staff expecting more from them than ever before. The globalisation of learning means that students no longer think about attending their local university; instead, they are being lured to other cities – or even countries – that offer the best learning experience. Additionally, the boom in online education means it is now an expectation, not a bonus, that educational experiences, whether they are online or offline, involve the latest technologies. 24/7 access to educational resources, an intuitive, seamless platform, and a strong network of academics who can share knowledge at any time, on any device, is essential for the universities of tomorrow. Our universities need to ensure they are leveraging the most effective and productive technologies available in order to attract academics and students. Building a digital university will involve truly understanding how key stakeholders – students, teachers, staff, and academics – need to interact with each other.
Answering the needs of next generation students
Students today expect universities to work around their timetable. Whether they need to check their schedule before leaving the house in the morning, or want to confirm their academic progress and time left until graduation before going to bed, the next generation of students expect real-time, 24/7 access to all information on any device.
With this demand for constant connectivity, universities need to leverage a single platform that integrates the various information sources and systems already being used, allowing them to make the most of their existing data rather than having to make new investments. This ensures that the next time a student bumps into a teacher on campus and wants to discuss their academic progress, it can be pulled up on their smartphone or tablet instantly. The teacher can discuss the required steps to graduation, or pull up a copy of their transcripts.
Future-proofing our universities
Students’ needs and expectations will continue to change as new technologies arise and affect the education sector. Understanding each student’s journey from enrolment to graduation, and how this evolves over time, will be key to ensuring universities’ processes and back office systems are efficient and delivering optimal value to students.
Understanding each student’s journey from enrolment to graduation and how this evolves over time will be key to ensuring universities’ processes and back office systems are efficient and delivering optimal value to students. This is what we would call the “single view” of students – whether they are signing up for their first class, borrowing a book from the library, joining the debating team, or requesting their transcript for an internship application, this provides one location for universities to gain insight into each student’s relationship and interactions with their systems.
MATT ARNOTT says tertiary institutions need to think carefully about the future needs of their students when considering their technology requirements. Why does this matter?
With a single view of students, universities can understand their current needs, as well as predict how these needs will change in the coming years. It also nurtures relationships with students in their post-university life, seeing them through graduation and alumni programmes. From there, universities can start implementing processes, technologies, and systems that optimise productivity and cost-effectiveness. These insights into where to most efficiently cut costs and the positive service impact it will have on students will be priceless, as government funding to universities fluctuates over time.
Empowering students with self-service options
People are instinctively more grateful for information that is accessible and delivered on their own personal terms, rather than according to a timetable or location that benefits an organisation they are already paying. The more information that students are empowered to access in real-time, the more they are likely to use and appreciate the systems delivering that information. A 24/7 self-service system available on any device encourages more students to engage with their university at more stages of their educational experience, which enables universities to gain more data and insights into how to improve these experiences. This could involve developing more accurate or convenient timetables, or updating resource listings to reflect the most valuable materials. To become a digital university of tomorrow, institutes must start considering the capability of their enterprise systems now, to ensure they can meet the current and future demands of students. End-to-end solutions that enable universities to connect their key stakeholders will provide an infinitely better ‘university experience’ to students, and will empower universities to become more cost effective and competitive in an increasingly saturated market. Matt Arnott is TechnologyOne’s group general manager for education.
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Joining the dots between education and the workplace At this year’s Higher Education Summit there was a call for better linkages between education and industry to address the skills gap threatening many sectors.
t isn’t just the tech sector crying out for skilled graduates. Many industries are experiencing difficulty in finding employees with the right skills to do the job, suggesting a gap between the education pipeline and the workforce. The issue was raised at the Higher Education Summit in Wellington in July. The focus of this year’s summit was driving value from the tertiary sector investment. Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford said the struggle to find fit-for-purpose employees was leaving gaps in many businesses’ skillsets, and jeopardising their sustainability. “Despite a highly educated population, the business community struggles to find fit-forpurpose employees. Feedback informs us that skill shortages are a consistent and significant barrier to successful business,” he told summit attendees. “On the other side of the fence, I’m told graduates are struggling to find fit-for-purpose employment. There is some disconnect between the education pipeline and its recipient workforce. We believe work needs to be done by businesses, education providers and policy-makers to adapt the education pipeline to better respond to workforce.”
Is university the be all and end all?
Milford questioned why such importance was placed on higher education qualifications. “I believe there is this underlying fear that without a formal qualification, there is no room for you in the workforce.” However, research published in Education Counts shows that employability and earnings increase with the level of qualification achieved, suggesting that tertiary education is the way to go. But Milford says in spite of the data we must be careful not to force everyone down this pathway. “We need to work on helping students realise that university isn’t the be-all end-all, but is one
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of a range of options to help students reach their potential and contribute to solving issues around skill shortages,” he says. “One concern I have about higher education, particularly the apparent need to have a university degree, is that while everyone runs towards the universities, other areas are neglected, primarily our basic trades.” Milford believes tertiary education providers need to be more proactive about preparing students for employability, rather than pushing them to keep studying. Industry Training Federation (ITF) chief executive Josh Williams believes the answer lies in vocational education and training (VET). “The best VET systems around the globe are
“One concern I have about higher education, particularly the apparent need to have a university degree, is that while everyone runs towards the universities, other areas are neglected, primarily our basic trades.” characterised by strong integration between the world of education and the world of work,” says Williams. “We have a diverse workforce needing the skills and capabilities for a dynamic and increasingly sophisticated labour market.” Williams says workplaces are a powerful setting for delivering and developing the skills, knowledge, and capabilities that help people gain and keep jobs. Williams believes it is at the interfaces between schools, tertiary providers and the workplace
that need improving. He says students who get jobs and industry training agreements partway through their programmes shouldn’t count against providers’ performance indicators. Apprentices who lose their jobs should be able to pick up where they left off in provider settings. The tertiary sector’s increasingly substantial contribution to NCEA completions should be acknowledged. Young people over the school leaving age should be able to dual enrol in pathway programmes that involve schools, ITOs and tertiary providers. Educationalist Stuart Middleton agrees. He points to the new opportunities opening up that will allow year 13 students to study at school for three days each week and for two days at an industry training provider, enabling them to complete both NCEA Level 3 and the first semester of a Level 4 diploma in subjects such as engineering, building and construction and hospitality. “The key issues cluster around the extent to which the school system and its interface with tertiary together work to provide ‘managed transitions’; ‘pathways’ that demonstrate ‘seamlessness’ – each of which poses a challenge to the school system for students, other than those heading to a university or a degree programme,” says Middleton. Milford agrees that there needs to be better integration of the systems. “Tertiary providers need the economy to thrive, and the economy needs tertiary providers to thrive – the trick is finding the balance that allows all parties to benefit and achieve what needs to be achieved.” The Productivity Commission’s review of the tertiary education sector is hoped to address some of these concerns. “The most critical challenge for the system is to ensure that our collective investment in skills translates into improved workplace and labour productivity,” says Williams.
On the same days as the Higher Education Summit, businesses in Auckland and Wellington opened their doors to university and secondary school students to give a glimpse of the corporate and tech careers that await them.
Universities and schools interface with businesses AUT’s Shadow a Leader Day
n 6 July this year Auckland CEOs opened their O doors to host promising young leaders as part of Auckland University of Technology (AUT)’s Shadow a Leader Day. Proving that universities are aligning their programmes with business practices, AUT matched 75 business leaders, 75 AUT Faculty of Business, Economics and Law students and 75 secondary school students from 40 schools across Auckland into teams of three, so that students could each ‘shadow’ a business leader for a day. The aim of Shadow a Leader is to give students the opportunity to follow a business leader to gain insights on effective leadership. Students are selected based on their leadership capabilities, potential and overall achievement. This year’s event began with a breakfast at AUT for all leaders and their students before they embarked upon their day together. The students took part in a variety of business activities including media engagements, executive and board meetings, client discussions, brainstorms, networking functions and presentations. The day also gave students a rare insight into the realities of being a leader, such as striking the right balance between work and life. Tony Falkenstein, chief executive of Just Water International, said he was delighted to host two of this year’s students. “If a young person has not been brought up in a business household, they see the business world like a foreign country. The AUT Shadow a Leader programme allows them to experience the
business world, from the top, for a day, and they tend to find it is not so frightening, and often is a day that shapes their life forever.” Anton Vera from AUT’s Business School, who spent the day with Tony, believes the initiative will present him with networking opportunities for future employment. “Shadow a Leader will allow me to kick-start my career by getting my foot in the door in some of New Zealand’s biggest companies.” AUT business student Aaron McDowell shadowed Volker Kuntzsch, chief executive of Sanford Limited. “It was encouraging to see that what I have learned at university is reflected through Sanford’s passion and ambition for sustainability and that there are business leaders with this keen focus,” said McDowell.
Wellington ShadowTech Day
More than 100 secondary school girls jumped at the opportunity to spend a day shadowing IT experts in Wellington at some of the capital city’s well-known companies. For one day the girls got to experience all aspects of ICT from programming to design and to seeing first-hand technology of all kinds inside a business. The event, organised by the New Zealand Technology Industry Association and hosted by WelTec, saw Wellington companies rush to offer opportunities to girls participating in the day. Around 35 companies hosted 110 girls for the day. NZTech Director Jen Rutherford said she was thrilled with the response. ShadowTech Day is all about promoting ICT to secondary school girls
especially as only 23 per cent of the IT workforce are female in New Zealand, she said. “Helping secondary school students make informed decisions about their future careers and putting in front of them the opportunities in the tech sector is our priority.” Rutherford stressed the importance of girls making the right subject choices at school. “Girls need to choose STEM subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathsrelated subjects at secondary school to do well in the ICT industry. By allowing them to experience the opportunities in ICT our hope is that they will continue on with these subjects at secondary school,” she said. IBM was one tech company that participated in ShadowTech. “We have a strong focus on making our workplace inclusive for women and achieving greater representation of women in technical and professional roles,” says Rachael Millman, IBM Service Manager. “That’s why IBM proudly supports and participates in programmes like ShadowTech that encourage young women to consider STEM careers.” Trade Me also participated in ShadowTech. Payments Sales Manager Ginny Ryder says the company has been working hard on promoting diversity and ensuring they get a diverse range of candidates. “We’re aware that the tech industry has long held some gender stereotypes and we need to get more women into the industry. ShadowTech Day is a fantastic opportunity to show the amazing opportunities a career in tech can offer.” The students who spent the day at Trade Me were paired up with mentors and involved in diverse activities from database infrastructure, to coding and designing systems and seeing how account managers and marketers use IT. “There are a really broad range of roles within our business and this is a great opportunity for the girls to observe real life roles with an experienced female mentor,” says Ryder.
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Partnership model a huge success A partnership between a teacher education provider and 21 local primary schools proves that effective leadership and mutual co-operation are the keys to success. By KIRSTY JONES, Eastern Institute of Technology.
he importance of teacher quality on student achievement has led to a widespread review of initial teacher education, in which teacher graduates have been criticised for being underprepared for the realities of the classroom and ill-equipped to implement student-centred activity based teaching practices. As such, there has been growing demand to improve teacher quality through practice-based models of teacher education that help training teachers make connections between theory and practice and develop the expertise to adapt their teaching practice in response to learners’ needs.
Teacher Education Partnership
In Hawke’s Bay a Teacher Education Partnership team is responding to this demand. The team consists of representatives from 21 local primary schools and the teaching staff of the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) programme at EIT, the Eastern Institute of Technology (Napier and Gisborne). They are working together to deliver a practicebased initial teacher education programme that focuses on preparing skilful teachers for New Zealand schools, and graduating more Māori teachers in line with regional demographic needs. The partnership is about more than schools simply ‘agreeing to help’ EIT. It is characterised by effective leadership, mutual co-operation, respect and support, and a collaborative collegial focus on teaching as inquiry and reflective practice to improve teacher quality. Candidate teachers (or student teachers) work alongside the primary school and EIT staff to develop high-quality teaching skills that enable them to promote learning for children in various teaching contexts. The programme has now been running as a three-year degree since 2013 and 2015 saw the first cohort of candidate teachers graduate. The programme’s successes can be seen through
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employer feedback about the excellent calibre of the graduating teachers, all of whom secured teaching positions for the start of the 2016 school year.
Leadership and innovation
Leadership and innovation have been central to the partnership model. To achieve the programme goals, principals, mentor teachers and teacher educators have all played critical and collaborative leadership roles, which have been pedagogically focused and emphasise teaching and learning to raise learner achievement. The principal, as the professional leader of the school, is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the school-based learning aspect in the school. School-based learning is the consistent school presence in the programme. By spending two days of each week in the same school setting, candidate teachers are able to see, feel, and explore the complexity of teaching. The mentor teacher is the professional teaching leader based at the school. This person is selected from the school staff by the principal in consultation with EIT staff. He or she is the manager of the school-based learning on behalf of the school and principal, and the ‘face of teaching’ for the candidate teachers, someone who supports and guides, interprets experiences, and mentors. Mentor teachers are expert practitioners, good models, and patient and proactive teachers who establish strong rapport with their junior colleagues and become critical friends. The teacher educator is the professional leader from within EIT. This person oversees the entire programme and has overall responsibility for the design, content and implementation of both the on-campus courses and the school-based learning. Teacher educators have expertise with course content. They ensure that clear links are made between theory and practice, and that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the
New Zealand Education Council accreditation requirements are being met. All members of the partnership team are committed to working closely with one another for the collective success of the group and they share consistent understanding of the partnership’s expectations and their own leadership roles and responsibilities. All partners foster a ‘no blame’ culture by taking collective responsibility for issues that arise and working collegially to find resolutions in the best interests of everyone. Terms of agreement, which clearly articulate the obligations of each partner, have been developed collaboratively and are reviewed annually. The eight leadership dimensions identified in Robinson, Hohepa and Lloyd’s (2009) School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis guide the partnership. Commitment to the eight leadership dimensions can be seen in the following ways. 1. Partnership members deliberate together to establish realistic and achievable goals that align with all parties’ strategic and institutional goals, and they regularly review the joint direction. 2. A collective and strategic approach is taken to resourcing. As an example, all partners ensure funding is available to release mentor teachers as needed for the programme. 3. Teacher educators, principals and mentor teachers work together to design programme content so that close links are made between the candidate teacher’s learning focus, the school curriculum, teaching and learning, and student achievement. 4. All parties take an active role in promoting and participating in the partnership’s teacher learning and professional development programme.
All partners foster a ‘no blame’ culture by taking collective responsibility for issues that arise and working collegially to find resolutions in the best interests of everyone.
5. Candidate teachers are valued and included as part of the staff when they are engaged in school-based learning and their involvement enhances the teaching and learning environment. 6. Opportunities are intentionally provided for teachers to build relationships and engage in learning conversations with candidate teachers and with other colleagues within their own school and across the Partnership schools. 7. Close alignment is made between the theory taught at EIT and its application to practice in schools. 8. The use of digital technologies and an online environment are embraced so that there is up-todate application of smart tools by the Partnership community.
Outcomes of the partnership
Recently one of the programme’s teacher educators conducted a small case study to explore the success of the partnership practices. Principals, mentor teachers, teacher educators, candidate teachers and students in schools were asked to comment on partnership practices where they had seen improved learner outcomes. Four common areas arose from the study: the knowledge-building community, leadership, teacher practice and teacher capacity. These areas align with findings about improved learner outcomes in the best evidence synthesis studies carried out by Timperley, Wilson and Fung (2007), Robinson et al. (2009) and Alton-Lee (2003).
The knowledge-building community
Regular formal and informal learning opportunities occur between principals, mentor teachers, teacher educators, teachers and candidate teachers enabling participants to draw on expertise and a wide knowledge base to inform their own practice. As one of the principals said, “We have developed as a learning community, for the betterment of our community (shared ownership and responsibility)”. His comments are supported by those of a mentor teacher, who acknowledged the “open lines of communication and strengthened professionalism throughout the school and community”. A teacher educator also reported that the close connection EIT has with the local schools helps her to keep up to date with new teaching initiatives and tap into the expertise of other teachers. Timperley, Wilson and Fung (2007) found that when groups contain and have access to appropriate expertise, the opportunities to learn and process new ideas collegially provide conditions that improve student outcomes.
Case study participants affirmed the collaborative model of the Hawke’s Bay Primary Education Partnership for enabling the growth and distribution of leadership among the team. They reported many examples of participants building their leadership skills. Principals commented that the partnership allows them to grow leadership within and across their schools. Findings from Timperley et al. (2007) indicate that building leadership capacity impacts positively on student outcomes. Through the partnership, the regular and ongoing opportunities to develop teaching capacity our candidate teachers develop during school-based learning in term strengthen their capacities to lead during more formal practicum teaching opportunities.
Participating in ongoing professional development is central to the partnership and schools work collaboratively with each other and EIT staff to design and implement development programmes that improve teacher quality. This collective approach has exposed participants to a wider range of new learning, and enabled each party to appropriately pool their resources and draw on each other’s expertise for the common good. Principals acknowledged this in the case study, with one saying, “The many regular and varied professional development opportunities available through the partnership have enabled me to cost effectively expose staff to wider learning, better meet their development needs and subsequently improve the children’s achievement.” These sentiments were echoed by mentor teachers and teacher educators. “I have become very clear on the links between theory and practice and I work hard to ensure my teaching makes a close connection to schoolbased learning,” said one teacher educator. In addition to planned professional development, having candidate teachers in the schools has enabled ongoing and continuous teacher learning and development to take place informally. Research shows us that participating in teacher learning and development has the biggest effect on student outcomes (Robinson et al., 2009). The partnership not only develops candidate teachers’ learning and development but that of the teachers who host them.
In the case study partnership participants commonly reported that the presence of the candidate teachers in school positively impacted on student outcomes and were one of the ways they were addressing the findings from the Quality Teaching For Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis (Alton-Lee, 2003). One teacher reported, “Having additional adults in the classroom who are becoming more and more able to assist with teaching learners means you can work with small groups and individuals for longer and more often.” Principals’ comments were similar, with one saying, “The candidate teachers have enhanced the school in so many ways. They give back more than they take and are such a valuable part of the staff.” The learners themselves also recognised the added value of having candidate teachers at their school.
Challenges and lessons learned
Evidence from the case study suggests that the partnership successes outweigh the barriers, however, there have been some lessons learned. The two main ongoing challenges faced by the team are around the organisation and management of the school-based learning component of the programme, and resourcing it. Crucial to overcoming those challenges is the ongoing commitment by all parties to address barriers by being solutions-focused. Close connections and frequent contact between EIT and the schools along with detailed documentation, regular review, ongoing programme modifications and a ‘no blame’ culture enables the partnership to stay focused on the group goals and overcome barriers. With the inaugural cohort of graduates securing teaching positions, a full intake of new candidate teachers joining the programme and continued support from local schools, the partnership is in a strong position to continue the important work of making a difference for learners. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for references to this article.
Go to www.educationreview.co.nz Education Review series
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Scholarships a-plenty The good news for school leavers quietly freaking out about the costs involved with their next move – be it further study, training or diving into the workforce – is that there are literally thousands of scholarships, grants and awards out there to help ease the load.
dam Goldwater knows all about scholarships. A careers evening at school opened his eyes to the number of scholarships out there for the taking. An aspiring horticulture student, he discovered a cluster of horticulture scholarships available on Massey University’s website. He applied, and was successful in securing the Zespri and Horticulture New Zealand scholarships in his first year at university. The following year he won three more scholarships, each helping to relieve some of the financial burden of university study. “I didn’t have a part-time job during my degree, only during the summer,” said Goldwater. “I figured that if I spent the time trying to get good marks to get scholarships, what was the point in working? “When going to uni, you have to pay quite high fees, but it means you can come out pretty much debt-free if you work hard and keep getting scholarships.”
“When going to uni, you have to pay quite high fees, but it means you can come out pretty much debt-free if you work hard and keep getting scholarships.” A bonus of the Horticulture New Zealand scholarship was that Goldwater was able to attend the annual horticulture conference, which proved invaluable for making contacts and laying the seeds for future employment.
How to get a scholarship
To get a scholarship, you generally need to meet certain criteria. According to Careers New Zealand this is typically based on things like your area of study, your chosen industry or trade, academic merit, community service or involvement, ethnicity, financial hardship, leadership, the region you grew up in, or where you plan to study. Seldom are two scholarships the same – they can vary hugely in what they cover. Some scholarships may cover tuition fees only, while others cover all course costs and some of your living expenses. Many universities, polytechnics and other education providers offer their own scholarships, grants and awards, and usually list these on
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their websites, along with eligibility criteria and application forms. Most providers have a scholarships officer or career adviser on hand who can answer questions about eligibility and help with the process. Government agencies offer and administer a large number of scholarships, grants and awards as well, and the New Zealand Government website covers all government departments and agencies. For students interested in training in a specific industry area, the relevant industry training organisation (ITO) is worth checking. Some also offer scholarships, or have information about where you can get scholarships related to that area of work. There are a large number of scholarships available to Māori and Pasifika students. Scholarship recipient Hautahi Kingi urges people to “give it a go”. “A surprising number of the scholarships available don’t have any applicants, because a lot of people think they haven’t got a chance,” he says. Kingi recommends the givME database as a first port of call for scholarship seekers. givME is a free searchable database provided by Generosity New Zealand with information on more than 4,000 funding schemes covering study, professional development, research, travel, arts, sport, and community projects. Completing scholarship applications can be time-consuming. Tertiary student, Ani RossHoskins says it took her at least five hours to complete an application, but the hard work paid off as she landed a Lincoln University Scholarship for Excellence, which paid for her yearly academic fees as well as a living allowance of $4,000 a year. For Ani to continue to receive her scholarship she needed to maintain a B-plus average. Most scholarships will ask for references. Referees’ statements are usually required by the closing date of the scholarship application. Victoria University of Wellington’s scholarships office advises applicants to ensure that referees are the appropriate people to provide the kind of information about you that the selection panel will need to know. “Always make sure that your referees know of every scholarship you have applied for in which they are listed as a referee. If they are aware of the particular requirements of each scholarship, they will be more able to provide the appropriate information to each scholarship selection panel.”
How to apply for scholarships Step 1: Know what’s on offer
Most libraries provide free access to the givME database. Get to know the full range of scholarships available to you so you don’t miss out on anything.
Step 2: Make sure you qualify
Read through the scholarship information carefully to make sure you meet the criteria. Make a list of the scholarships you are qualified to apply for.
Step 3: Gather your information
To apply for a scholarship, you will most likely need to fill out forms and supply documents to support your application. You need to collect, make copies of, and certify all the necessary documents to support your application. You may also be asked to attend an interview with the selection panel.
Step 4: Make a good impression
A sloppy, late or incomplete application might cause the selection panel to think that the scholarship is not important to you or that you are not really interested. Allow yourself plenty of time to put care and effort into your application. Try to do everything you can to show that you are deserving of the award. Be tidy, be thorough and be timely.
Step 5: Do a final check
Check, check, and recheck. Use this checklist to make sure you are ready to submit your application: Fill in the application forms carefully. Check for spelling mistakes. Provide all the necessary supporting documents. Get copies of documents certified. Meet the closing date. Make copies of every application sent. Provide current contact details. Get someone to check over your application – they might pick up something you’ve missed.
Adapted from Careers New Zealand Case studies and information published with the permission of Careers New Zealand (careers.govt.nz).
Two Waikato University academics have secured funding to support their popular Roboshops – school-based workshops that teach children the basics of coding and robotics.
Roboshops: unlocking curious minds
ews that the Government will add digital technologies to The New Zealand Curriculum by 2018 has been welcomed by a pair of Waikato University academics who are already ramping up digital capability in low decile primary schools and kura in the Waikato region. Associate Professor Garry Falloon and computer scientist Nilesh Kanji have been awarded $30,000 as part of MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds Contestable Funding and are going into schools to run ‘Roboshops’, teaching children between seven and 12 years the basics of coding and applying that to control robots such as spheros, droids, and ollies. “The workshops build on each other,” says Falloon. “We’re doing five two-hour sessions, and just watching the children learn is amazing. Some of these children don’t have ready access to computers or tablets at home, but the speed with which they pick up concepts and string them together is impressive. “What’s also interesting is the different ways the children approach learning these new ideas. Some are inclined to be more considered spending lots of time planning what they are going to do, whereas others tend to tear off and have a go, and if something doesn’t work, they will try something else. As a generalisation, girls tend to approach these tasks differently from boys.”
In-house sessions get good results
There are eight schools involved in the programme, with all sessions taking place at the schools. Falloon says keeping sessions in-house is the best way to get good results. “With all the regulations required to take children off-site, it seemed a better idea to go to the schools
during school hours. I know there are code camps and after-school coding clubs, but they mainly cater for children who are already interested in coding, or have the ability to get to events outside school. It’s good to have the opportunity to offer a school-based outreach programme like this.” Senior computer science tutor Nilesh Kanji has previously run coding classes for girls from Waikato high schools and still runs a ‘computing for girls’ website, but this is the first time he’s worked in primary schools, where he finds the children a lot louder and outgoing. “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to get the children coding at a young age,” he says. “The children are energised and enthusiastic. They
“It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to get the children coding at a young age.” figure something out and they’re wide-eyed and get such a buzz. It’s what makes me love my job.” In the first session the students scarcely touch an iPad, but instead, through paper-based coding games they learn basic computer concepts, including simulating a fax machine, where the number patterns form a recognisable picture. “We cover logical thinking by using coding-based games such as Cargo-Bot and Lightbot, where the students guide a droid to solve puzzles,” Kanji says. “Then they work with Pyonkee, an iPad version of Scratch, which allows them to visually code and change the values of things just by using the drag and drop function. And then we build on that, using an app called Tickle to develop procedures that will make the actual robots move around.”
Falloon says coding actual devices leads to new challenges, such as controlling speed, tackling physical obstacles and changing direction. It can involve creating repeated sequences and working with loads of variables. “The students end up extending themselves by solving quite complex code problems to make their device do as they want it to.” Both Kanji and Falloon would like to see more students talking about IT as a career option; but even if they don’t have a career in computer science, their knowledge and skills will be applicable in just about any job. Falloon’s current school-based research suggests coding can be a valuable activity in its own right, especially for the development of higher order thinking skills that are sought in any profession. He hopes this initial programme will be a “scoping exercise” that he and Mr Kanji will be able to refine and extend to more schools. “We’ve been inundated with requests to go into more schools. People talk about the decile ‘digital divide’, but I think there’s a worrying divide developing between urban and rural schools and their access to programmes such as this. We’ve included Morrinsville and Te Awamutu schools in this initial programme, but there are so many more schools outside Hamilton that would like to be taking part.” There are teachers present in the Roboshops. “It’s important teachers are included because we need to develop capability within the schools to enhance sustainability. Ultimately, we aren’t able to do this programme indefinitely. We need to grow interest and ability in the teachers, as well as the kids and their parents,” says Falloon.
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Tackling the big and little issues for young people JUDE BARBACK catches up with JETmag editor Miah Kennett about the realities young people are facing as they transition from school to work, training or higher education.
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can hear the roar of traffic in the background as Miah Kennett answers her telephone. She is dashing home from uni as she takes my call. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I’m just crossing a really busy road.” It’s an apt metaphor. Kennett’s life at the moment could be likened to crossing a really busy road. Juggling the pressures of university study with her role as JETmag editor means her days are full and varied. Kennett is grateful for her flexible work arrangements, but also thinks they reflect the lifestyle of JETmag readers. JET stands for Jobs, Education and Training but it could just as easily stand for Juggling, Enterprise and Tensions or indeed anything that defines the lives of young people striving to balance work, study and play. “I am the demographic,” says Kennett in reference to the JETmag readership. “I understand exactly who I’m writing for and what I’m writing about.” The magazine’s newly revamped website and host of young and savvy bloggers and contributors is currently having an impact on young Kiwis making some of the trickier decisions about their lives as they take their first steps post-high school. “There’s a lot of pressure on young people today,” she says. “Some experience a lot of anxiety.” Kennett says she thinks student loans and debt weigh particularly heavily on young people’s shoulders. She admits to a “fear of the unknown” when it comes to debt and believes there needs to
be more education on the topic for students. She has avoided taking out a student loan so far and is trying to pay her fees as she goes, but not at the expense of missing the opportunities that come with being a student. Student debt features among the content on JETmag, along with articles ranging from ‘how to get inside information on a job’ to ‘travel vs work vs university’ and even to one on the polarising Pokémon Go app. A recent blog post entitled ‘My Depresh’ caught the attention of many, with the magazine inundated with requests for reprinting and praise for the bold and honest account of a student’s battle with depression. “It went crazy,” said Kennett, of the article. “I think it shows how it is now more acceptable to talk openly about mental health.” Kennett believes the magazine plays a “massive role” in helping people source the information and advice they’re seeking, whether it is dealing with depression or debt, seeking a scholarship or contemplating studying abroad. “I used to Google questions I had about study, loans, courses and so on and have to scroll through everything for ages. Sites like JETmag.co.nz and Careers New Zealand are great for sorting out the relevant stuff – they essentially do the work for students.”
“I used to Google questions I had about study, loans, courses and so on and have to scroll through everything for ages. Sites like JETmag.co.nz and Careers New Zealand are great for sorting out the relevant stuff – they essentially do the work for students.”
Q&A: Harry Reid, JETmag contributor sure that one has a balance of work and play is really important. It’s easy to get caught up on the work side of things, especially in the first few weeks, but taking time to step back and socialise can actually be incredibly therapeutic.
As a regular contributor to JETmag, HARRY REID shares the highs and lows of transitioning from high school to university.
If you had to boil it down to just a few points, what advice would you give someone approaching the transition from school to tertiary education? Harry Reid (HR): Personally, I think that one of the most important things that one can do at this stage is to make sure that they are pursuing their interests. Subsequently, this might actually mean deciding against attending university for the time being, or it might simply mean deciding on a course that you are genuinely invested in – so long as it’s not a forced decision. Also, I think that a big part of university is the social opportunity that it provides so making
Generally speaking, do you think there is enough support for young people making decisions about their next steps? HR: I think this varies depending on the services that schools provide in relation to course and careers advice. For instance, my high school was really good in this regard as they recognised that study beyond high school wasn’t for everybody and so they found ways to cater for these students. However, in general I’ve noticed that attending university after high school has become that of an expectation as opposed to a decision, which is a really unhealthy notion to be enforcing on students that can’t or don’t want to attend university, as they’re left feeling inadequate.
Do you think that sharing your experiences will help others in the same boat? HR: It’s hard to say for sure, but if there’s a chance that it does then I will keep documenting them. Everyone’s experiences are likely to differ slightly so I aim to provide a broad overview of what mine are like, so that people can slot themselves in accordingly.
Do you think young people are under a lot of stress? In what ways? HR: By and large, I would have to say yes. Since about year 11 I can recall my peers – me included – being constantly worried about something on the horizon, whether it be assignments, finding a job, and so on. I think most of this stress comes from an uncertainty
of what the future will bring as people slowly reach the point of having to be self-sufficient, instead of being able to rely on parents.
Knowing what you do now, if you could give your 15-year-old self some advice, what would it be? HR: Hmm, I feel like there’s no way of answering this question without sounding relatively cliche, but I think I would stress the fact that a lot changes in three years (as I’m now 18), and for the most part, for the better. In those three years I experienced changes in schooling, friends, opinions and so on – all of which led me to where I am now, which I’m happy about.
What role do sites and forums like JETmag play in helping arm young people with information and advice? HR: I think that by reading about the experiences of others, these forums have the ability to provide young people with a stronger world view. For instance, reading these experiences provides one with someone else’s perspective and a greater understanding of their own. Therefore, by having such a diverse range of authors on these forums, readers are able to relate to, and perhaps learn from, these various voices.
Do you enjoy contributing to JETmag? Why/why not? HR: I have definitely enjoyed it so far. I’ve always wanted to have a blogging space and so when this came up it was the perfect opportunity. It’s nice being able to have the chance to address issues on a greater platform than something like having a one-on-one conversation with someone. Also, if it means that someone takes something of value away from one of my pieces then it’s even better.
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How can technology make me a better teacher? GARETH HADDON was recently named the recipient of the 2016 NEXT Foundation Expert Teacher of the Year award. Here, he discusses how digital technology can enhance teaching and learning.
consider myself to be a very fortunate person. The fast pace of the digital age makes it an exciting time to be in education, with opportunities and challenges thrown at us on a daily basis. As the capability of technology and our students’ immersion and reliance on it continues to grow (whether we agree with the concept or not), we as educators are forced not only to embrace it but to understand it. Yet, despite the advancements of the digital classroom, the teacher is still, and will always be, the most important element. Which is why, as I embarked on an exploration of digital learning, I set out to ask the question: “How can technology make me a better teacher to my students?” This question has become the driver behind a professional development journey, of which postgraduate study at The Mind Lab by Unitec has been a significant part. It is not about throwing away pedagogy and replacing it with a flash new laptop, but using technology to accelerate learning by focusing on the stuff that really matters, and the stuff that in the future will matter even more. As the 21st century is pulling us forward (often kicking and screaming) we are forced to acknowledge that the single ‘C’ of content is being pushed aside as the 6 C’s of Education define whether or not our students will get paid in the work force. The ‘C’ I put at the top of my list is Collaboration, for in my experience travelling, studying and working in 30 countries I have yet to encounter a job that doesn’t require it. Should collaboration come at the expense of individual ownership or the ability to provide a student with an understanding of where they are at on their learning journey?
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No. But does it need to be taught explicitly as a skill, together with a metacognitive appreciation for it? Absolutely, and what better place to achieve collaboration than a classroom, where it can be used as one of the many tools to develop knowledge collectively, actively, and with relevance and intent. The experiences, ideas, and perspectives of our students provide a unique opportunity for classroom educators to develop the 21st century skills that our students need for the estimated 17 jobs they will encounter once they leave school. Despite the important platform that content provides for learning, our definition of knowledge has shifted and content is simply not enough. Digital technology gives our students the tools to generate knowledge in ways that were never before possible. This doesn’t mean that students are rewriting text books and assuming the ideas that adorn the pages to be irrelevant. It means that students are now able to engage with the information in new and enriching ways. Students can now connect with learners in other countries to understand their interpretation or perspective on something. They can express their understanding of ideas in ways that are beyond the creative limitations of the teacher, reflecting their individuality. They can be empowered to be a respected member of society by having a voice (whether anonymous or otherwise) and work at a pace conducive to their own learning. It is for these reasons that digital learning has leapt far beyond an ability to access information easily, and why I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to witness how it can assist my students’ learning first-hand. Of course, tomorrow I will be back in the classroom, confronted with challenges that teachers have faced for centuries, and wishing there is ‘some sort of technology’ to fix it. But the best part about digital technology is that it can’t replace people – their personalities, problems, and great one-liners. As I continue to learn, whether that be through the application of my learning, or simply listening to colleagues and students, I hope to model lifelong learning and find even more exciting ways to use digital technology to support, encourage, and endorse the people around me. Gareth Haddon is a postgraduate of The Mind Lab by Unitec and 2016 NEXT Foundation Expert Teacher of the Year award recipient.
What better place to achieve collaboration than a classroom, where it can be used as one of the many tools to develop knowledge collectively, actively, and with relevance and intent.
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