Significant changes are taking place in the classroom and the curriculum, and these are impacting on teaching and learning. It is important that these changes meet the needs of students by enhancing their learning and equipping them to thrive in an increasingly digital world.
Young people need to become capable and discriminating users of digital technology. This has implications for our schools that many are only now beginning to explore.
Funded by a grant from the Ministry, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) conducted a survey in 2016 that provided a national picture of how digital technologies are being used in primary and intermediate schools.
Eighty one percent of the teachers who responded agreed that digital technology had led them to experiment with new approaches to teaching and learning; over seventy percent agreed that technology had helped students go deeper into their learning and had given them more control over their learning. However, digital technologies were most often used for practising skills (for example, in mathematics or reading), searching for information, and producing reports, PowerPoint presentations or the like. These essentially low-level activities do not embrace technology’s potential to transform learning.
The SAMR diagram at right highlights some of the ways in which technology can enable different, higher level, tasks. Emerging EdTech provides examples of what SAMR might look like in a range of different curriculum areas.
For today’s students, being able to use technology, even fluently, is not enough. They must be digitally capable, strong in computational thinking, and develop the skills to be creators of digital outcomes.
o this end, the Ministry is strengthening The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa to equip our learners for a digitalised workplace and society. The technology strand in the curriculum will be enhanced to include Digital Technologies/Hangarau Matihiko. The changes, which are to be fully implemented in 2020, aim to equip learners ‘to apply their understanding of digital technologies to all aspects of their lives and careers, whatever path they follow’ (Ministry of Education, n.d.). The Ministry will support teachers to develop their capabilities and confidence to integrate this curriculum into their school programmes.
Recent changes to the Education Act have opened the door for schools and other organisations to seek accreditation from the Ministry to establish Communities of Online Learning (COOLs). The intention is that schools and online providers will collaborate to deliver the curriculum (or at least parts of it) online to learners. Online learning is already available through NetNZ, the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) and Te Kura. COOLs should be available from 2020 and will further extend the opportunities to learn online.