Jono Shields

Tech & Education in New Zealand

Recently I had the honour of attending the annual NZTech Education Technology Summit on behalf of Codeclub Aotearoa.

The summit is a gathering of educators, digital leaders, technologists and innovators. And the purpose is to share expertise and insights on education. There were two streams that ran over the two days, one on Tech and Pedagogy, and the other on Edtech for Export. My focus was on the Tech and Pedogogy, I hoped I could pick up insights for my Codeclub.

And I got some pretty awesome takeaways that I would like to share. The first was the way in which classrooms and the methods of teaching are changing. I kind of wish I was back at school. It was also cool to see the skills, values and content they are teaching. There is a far bigger push to teach the skills like adapability and autonomy that will help them in the future.

Teaching is changing…

And it’s about time, for a long time a teacher stands at the front of the class with rows of desks perfectly arranged. I heard from Nikki Urlich about the ILE (Innovative Learning Environment) they have set up at Campbell’s Bay School. Where the teaching is actually student led.

She talked about students that at the start of a week would go and pick their own learning objectives. Of course some Maths and Literacy is mandatory, but the students have free reign to plan their week. Some like to work with a friend on something fun in the beginning to brighten their Monday. While others will try to slog through the tough ones early to free themselves up later in the week.

In Nikki’s classrooms the teachers act as facilitators. They draw conversation out of students and remove blockers to help students get on with their autodidacticism. The students have a wealth of learning material and utilise tools like Khan Academy, Mathletics and Literacy Shed. The students just provide some evidence of their learning and they can move onto their next challenge.

Preparing the next generation for something that doesn’t yet exist

Right now we are in a time of rapid change and crazy growth. There was a lot of discussion about how to best prepare students for what is ahead. More than 65% of todays children will work in jobs that are yet to be created.

Nick Pattison at Kauri Flats School is preparing for this by teaching real world skills. The students at Kauri Flats turn their learning objectives into projects for the community. They use design thinking to work with their community and iterate to make something that can add value.

These students learn to empathise and define their customers needs. Then use those insights to ideate, prototype and test their ideas. It is important to teach that their is success in failure. You can’t expect to get it right on the first try. And that every failure is a crucial lesson that they learn through first hand experience. Practical knowledge of Stanford’s Design Thinking is sort after in the job market today. These kids half my age have a better looking CV than I do.

In Summary

I don’t know if it was my rose tinted lenses or something else. But everything people were saying was “Agile, we need more Agile”. And I’m not saying that it is the solution to everything. But pretty much everyone there was saying something like “Technology alone won’t solve the problems in the classroom”.

Thanks for reading.