Digital collaboration and success with hybrid learning

Issue: Volume 101, Number 13

Posted: 12 October 2022
Reference #: 1HAX2p

Government education agencies are working on a new digital and data strategy outlining a shared view of digital education in Aotearoa New Zealand for the coming decade.

Avonside Girls' High School deputy principal Liz McDowell with a student.   

Avonside Girls' High School deputy principal Liz McDowell with a student.  

After the experience of lockdowns and continued absences caused by Covid-19, Avonside Girls’ High School | Te Kura Kohine o Ōtākaro found that with careful planning and good use of resources, skills and ICT Infrastructure, they could powerfully advance their commitment to become pandemic-ready through hybrid learning.

“We began by working closely with staff to outline the rationale for hybrid learning. We delved into practices around hybrid learning at staff meetings and department meetings,” says deputy principal Liz McDowell.

The school discussed the benefits of a unified response using their well-established digital platforms of Office 365, Teams and OneNote and agreed a path forward.

“We experienced hybrid learning as a staff, moving to virtual meetings through Teams and establishing a staff Teams group with a specific hybrid learning channel. We provided online resources for staff and our eLearning integrator worked with staff who wanted extra support.”

School leaders and kaiako worked closely with students and the community through the process and talked about the why.

“Our daily loan devices for learners became term loans and we witnessed growth in student agency in learning.”

The school created a hybrid learning structure and changed KAMAR, their student management and timetable system, to reflect this agency and for ease of student use.

They also moved to a day on, day off model (two days onsite, three days learning from home) in the first iteration.

Wednesdays became ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ for pastoral care and pouako weekly check-ins with students and whānau. Social media and the school website were used for messaging and updates.

“We sought feedback halfway through the five-week hybrid learning model from staff, students and whānau.”

The ultimate team sport

Avonside Girls’ are but one example of digital and data approaches to teaching and learning, particularly driven by Covid-19.

The value of teamwork and buy-in from staff, students and whānau for effective digital learning is a sentiment also shared by Michael Earl, principal of Ōrākei School.

He says collaboration is essential to quality hybrid learning. Whether it is simply between two teachers or between schools, or clusters of schools, collaboration is essential if hybrid learning is to be sustainable.

“Hybrid learning is turning teaching into the ultimate team sport. Teachers can no longer do it alone. Individual players must use the skills and knowledge they possess to contribute to the larger team to ensure success for each and every student.”

Ōrākei and Te Roopu Pourewa Kāhui Ako, which is made up of Ōrākei, Kohimarama, Stonefields and St Thomas School, collaboratively developed an online learning programme to support hybrid learning which was made available to students at any of the four schools.

The kāhui provided a digital distance approach where students use both a device and connectivity to engage with learning on a digital platform (Zoom, Google, SchoolTalk).

All students need a device with a functioning camera for Zoom. Onsite teachers consistently use SchoolTalk to share calendars with students and online learning staff. Hence, a shared kāhui ako learning management system was important for this collaboration to work.

Collaborating to provide hybrid learning enables the kāhui to share strengths across their schools and creates the potential for the practice of hybrid learning to be doable and sustainable at a time of significant stress and pressure.

Like Avonside Girls’, Ōrākei and Te Roopu Pourewa Kāhui Ako acknowledges and utilises ākonga voice throughout implementation, ensuring that the platform adjusts to reflect evidence.

Further reading

Earlier this year, Education Gazette spoke to Te Poutāhū chief advisor Lesley Murrihy about how successful hybrid learning leverages technologies to provide continuity of quality learning for all students, no matter when, where or how.

Revisit this article "Making hybrid learning sustainable(external link)", and more examples of hybrid learning. 

To read more about Avonside Girls’ High School’s experience, visit link).

ConnectED Ako: Digital and Data for Learning

Education agencies are working on a strategy to address the benefits and possibilities of digital and data approaches for teaching and learning, so learners and whānau, educators and providers can flourish in the digital future.

Digitally fluent and literate people are equipped to learn, live, and work, contributing to personal fulfilment, job opportunities, and the nation’s growth.

This strategy is the work of the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and the Network for Learning and related education entities, to outline the aspirations and priorities for digital and data in education – from early childhood to tertiary and beyond. Shared principles and aspirations for digital and data will help guide education agencies’ decisions and investments over the coming decade.

Insights and understanding have come from discussions and research with partners and stakeholders across the education community and beyond over the last 18 months, helping inform the final strategy.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 12:02 pm, 12 October 2022

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