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Keeping up with digital natives

By Geoff Vause

[email protected]

Classrooms now are filled with the first generation of digital natives.

Today’s students accept the digital and online world the way we all accept electricity.

It’s part of their lives, an extension of their sense of who they are.

Masterton’s Fab Lab has won a collaboration with Unitec’s Mind Lab – a learning facility helping teachers and students make creative sense of education in an increasingly digital, global and specialised world.

On September 22 Mind Lab boss Fee McLeod will visit Masterton to introduce their Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning) which has already helped more than 1,400 teachers across the country shape the problem solving, collaboration and adaptability skills they need to meet the needs of the digital natives filling their classrooms.

Wairarapa Times-Age talked to some of them to see what the course offered our teachers.

Gareth Haddon is a geography, social sciences and robotics teacher at Auckland’s Aorere College. He’s been teaching three years.

Since completing The Mind Lab’s postgraduate qualification, Gareth said his approach to teaching had changed.

Rather than relying on explaining processes to his students explicitly he supports more active and self-directed learning in an environment where learning takes on a variety of forms.

“We often think our mind is the one students should be downloading from. But that’s not the case. Everybody brings something to the table and in a collaborative environment like a classroom, we need to capitalise on that.”

Innovative Learning Spaces (ILS) are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand schools, taking the traditional classroom approach up a notch.

Gisborne’s Waikirikiri School teachers Lisa Olsen-Brown, Manny Horua, Teia Koopu and Kim Pewhairangi used the Mind Lab postgrad course to research innovative learning spaces ahead of setting up their own space in 2017.

“I was nervous about the introduction of such a modern space and teaching practices, but Mind Lab has vastly increased my confidence and improved my ability to teach in a 21st Century environment,” Ms Olsen-Brown said.

The course allowed the four Waikirikiri teachers to reflect on teaching practices, relating their study, research and assignments on the course to everyday life at their own school.

Linda Chong has been teaching for 25 years and now manages innovation at St Margaret’s College at Christchurch.

Linda enrolled in the Mind Lab programme in March because she “needed to be immersed in a pedagogy of innovation, collaboration and technology” for her new role.

“I now work with teachers from pre-school all the way through to high school. I help them embed technology into their current curriculum and develop the skills they need to use it.”

FabLab’s Kirsten Browne says the postgrad course is a coup for Wairarapa. PHOTO/GEOFF VAUSE
FabLab’s Kirsten Browne says the postgrad course is a coup for Wairarapa. PHOTO/GEOFF VAUSE

Fab Lab’s Kirsten Browne said having the programme available for Wairarapa teachers was a major coup.

“The tyranny of distance has made it hard for our teachers to get this type of course,” Ms Browne said.

“Now we have it coming right here. This is a call to action. It needs to be supported. Mind Lab only gets to three regions each year.”

Wairarapa teachers can have $2000 of the $2750 fee for the 32-week course covered by a scholarship from NEXT Foundation, but this is guaranteed for 2016 only at this stage.

Decile 1-3 teachers can have all the fees paid. There are 35 spots for each intake of the 32-week course.

The postgrad course information session with Mind Lab staff on September 22 starts at Fab Lab in Chapel Street Masterton at 4pm and is open to all.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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