Now is the future

Issue: Volume 99, Number 5

Posted: 25 March 2020
Reference #: 1HA6s3

In the fifth and final video of this series on the new Digital Technologies & Hangarau Matihiko (DT&HM) curriculum content, Education Gazette looks at the different ways schools and kura are working with communities, industry and each other.

Watch the fifth and final of our series on the revised Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko curriculum content.

Schools are breaking out of their silos as they implement the new DT & HM curriculum and share the goal of helping to prepare young people to thrive in a fast-changing world.  

Working with whānau, communities and schools   

West Rolleston Primary School has taken a collaborative approach to upskilling its community of whānau and schools, says principal Sylvia Fidow.  

“It’s a challenge to upskill our parents and our community. We need to provide access for parents to be able to understand why we teach the way we do, why children have access to the digital tools and what are the benefits. You need that time to work with your community around all of this – and deliver cyber-safety messages too,” she says. 

Sylvia says there are 11 centres in the Kāhui Ako, which  are taking a collaborative approach to sharing best practice.  

“We see our across-school and in-school teachers naturally adding the new curriculum into their work. For example, if you are leading communication, or wellbeing across our Kāhui Ako, our expectation will be that you are naturally thinking about how digital enhances that piece of work as well,” explains Sylvia.  

Thinking big  

At Rolleston College, Bronwyn Hoy is thinking big for the rapidly expanding Canterbury township. Last November’s Activate event attracted schools and members of the community to share and learn about the innovative potential of digital technology through a range of student projects. She would love to see a built-for-purpose activation space at the college.  

“An activation space is creating a purposeful space in a school, where learners can exhibit, have workshops and some purposeful learning can take place to develop the innovative mindset,” she says.  

“A lot of the big companies, like Google, are starting to realise that these spaces are really important. The University of Auckland has Unleash Space(external link).   

“I think it’s equally, if not more, important in a secondary school to help our learners develop those skills very early on before they leave school and are still in that safe environment where they can fail and learn and grow,” says Bronwyn.  

Working with PLD providers   

Accredited facilitator of professional learning and development Matt Richards (aka Village Robot(external link)), along with Learning link), is working with schools and institutions around New Zealand to help develop their learner agency and digital fluency.  

He says the potential to make a difference in the world is exciting and he is particularly impressed with the concept of ako, which gives teachers space to be learners alongside their students. Education Gazette caught up with Matt at Newlands Intermediate, where he is helping the school develop the DT&HM curriculum in innovative ways.  

“We are looking at ways to hand more power over to the students in how they drive their own learning journey. The digital curriculum and digital tools are seen as ways of supporting that. It’s not so much about the tools but the development in the key competencies that can occur by trying some of these new ways of learning and working.  

“I think it’s really needed – as a species we are facing some big challenges at the moment, and we need to be able to communicate well, collaborate, innovate, and look at new solutions to problems. These are the skills that we need now, and this is an opportunity to develop them,” says Matt.  

Developing staff confidence  

Rolleston College worked with Ministry of Education PLD providers ImpactED to develop staff confidence in understanding and implementing the new curriculum. The college was the first to use the PLD provider’s sustainable development goal templates(external link), which Bronwyn Hoy was involved in developing.   

As one of 10 Boma Fellows(external link) in 2019, Bronwyn will be sharing the learning she received during the one-year programme, which aimed to use experiential technology to improve the learning outcomes of secondary school students.   

“We spent 10 days in the US visiting amazing learning institutions. We met once a month as well as having accelerator courses in our holidays. We met with many industry partners to mentor us through this,” she says.  

Working with industry  

Digital skills and competencies are important to society and the economy, says Paul Matthews, chief executive of IT Professionals NZ, which has been working closely with the Ministry on the development of the new curriculum content.  

“The technology industry is really excited about the changes to the curriculum. We have wanted it in place for some time because, being at the cutting edge of technology, we see the difference technology is making in the world and the advantages people have who are comfortable with technology.  

“The world has changed – now is the future. Being able to use and develop technology is fundamental to today’s world. The aim of the new DT&HM curriculum is for every child in New Zealand to have the opportunity to create with technology. We want to change from our kids being users and consumers of technology to them creating and driving this forward,” says Paul.  

Unique collaboration  

A unique collaboration began when Newlands Intermediate teacher Marianne Malmstrom, and Jim Taylor, an emerging technologies architect at Theta Innovation Lab, teamed up and won a TechWeek hackathon. Their idea was to create a sandbox platform for making mixed-reality content.   

Their idea became a reality when Theta decided to seek student input to build that fit-for-purpose platform. One afternoon a week, you will find a Theta developer at Newlands Intermediate working with a group of students called the MiniDevs. Jim is keen on partnerships with schools as he says students provide valuable insights and feedback during product development.   

“We have been on a journey with the MiniDevs of building up a sandbox platform to enable kids to be able to create their own content. Mixiply is the result and has been released for people to use for free.   

“What interested me was that we came in with the assumption we were building a coding platform, but quickly saw we needed to create a creators’ platform. That helped drive the platform from a fun way to learn about coding to a kind of digital makerspace tool,” says Jim.  

Marianne believes it is imperative for schools to shift their focus from students learning content to students creating their own content in order to learn. Jim says the technology landscape is ever-changing and a solid grounding in problem solving and computational and design thinking are key skills in the workplace.  

Building relationships 

Newlands Intermediate principal Angela Lowe says building relationships with people and companies from outside school has brought a whole range of new things into the school environment.  

“With groups like MiniDevs we have 11-, 12-, 13-year-olds working with outside developers to produce things that are marketable and commercially savvy,” she says.  

Marianne says it’s a collaboration that truly benefits everyone.  

“It’s been the most incredible partnership for all three of us: the students, me as an educator and the Theta developers.”   

Her hope is that this is a model that will be replicated by more schools and developers.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 3:30 pm, 25 March 2020

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