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by Susana Tomaz | STEAM Coordinator Westlake Girls High School | Across School Lead – Pupuke Kāhui Ako at Ministry of Education of New Zealand
As an Across School Educational Leader and STEAM Coordinator, I have witnessed the value and benefits of integrating technology in education for both learners and educators. However, complex barriers still hinder access to technology by both students and teachers.
The onset of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown highlighted the digital divide in our country, with thousands of students lacking internet access at home and many more lacking devices beyond their mobile phones. Although there has been improvement, mainly due to MoE initiatives, access to quality technology can vary widely between schools with some still limited in the availability of device access to students.
Another barrier, which I would like to focus on today is the lack of awareness and low adoption of edtech developed in New Zealand by our schools. This presents a significant barrier to the effective integration of edtech into classrooms and our Kura.
After joining the Aotearoa EdTech Excellence Whitepaper Official Release webinar where I came across the EdTechNZ directory, I was surprised to realise that a significant number of edtech products developed in New Zealand were unknown to me. As a STEAM Coordinator, I actively seek innovative technology to integrate into teaching and learning, ranging from robotics and coding to AR and VR. This led me to investigate the awareness of other educators and leaders. I conducted a survey at a recent Kāhui Ako conference attended by 350 educators and educational leaders across ECE, primary, intermediate and secondary education. The survey listed the EdTechNZ directory as found in the Aotearoa EdTech Excellence Whitepaper, and respondents were asked to indicate the edtech products they had heard about or used.
The survey results identified 14 edtech resources known by teachers across from ECE to secondary in the following categories:
- Assessment and verification: 2
- Education management: 6
- Experiencing learning: 3
- Knowledge and content: 1
- New delivery models: 1
- Skills and jobs: 0
- Learning support: 1
Per sector maximum of six edtechs were identified and that was at intermediate school and by a technology teacher.
It is important to note that the survey undertaken was limited to our community of schools located in Auckland’s North Shore, comprising of nine schools and supporting approximately 7,500 learners. The findings of this survey reveal a significant lack of awareness among educators and education leaders in our community, especially on the experiencing learning and skills and jobs categories. It would be interesting to find out if the same lack of awareness is replicated in schools across the country and beyond our community. Could the lack of awareness of the variety of educational innovative technology developed in New Zealand, some successfully adopted by schools around the world, be a cause for concern? And could our students and educators in our Kura/New Zealand be missing out?
Join the conversation during Techweek?
Educational technology offers several benefits, such as increased engagement and motivation, personalised learning, improved accessibility, and enhanced collaboration. However, realising these benefits requires ensuring that educators and education leaders are aware of the available technology and how to use it. Conversely, understanding learning priorities and challenges in our Kura equally as important.
There is a disconnect between teachers, the educational community and the edtech community as to the provision and enablement of educational technologies in schools.
Why not join this kōrero during Techweek? How can we effectively identify ways to connect educators and EdTech members, thereby facilitating the successful integration of edtech into New Zealand schools to empower learning with technology that embodies our unique Aotearoa New Zealand identity?