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Teachers share how they’re embracing the digital future with The Mind Lab

With only four months to go until digital technology is integrated into the New Zealand curriculum, many teachers are thinking about how they’ll bring 21st century tools into the classroom.

Minister of Education Nikki Kaye announced in June that the government made an investment of about $40 million in the education sector to enhance digital fluency among young people.

The funding will be spread over three years, with more than half the money ($24 million) going towards helping upskill New Zealand’s teachers. Digital Technologies will be a compulsory subject from years 1 to 10 by 2020 and new NCEA credits will also be developed for years 11 to 13.

Many in the digital and tech sectors have voiced their views on the need to prepare the next generation for the changing working world, such as OMGTech! co-founder and Vend founder Vaughan Rowsell. He said in a column for Idealog that more needs to be done to equip the future generations so they can flourish in the tech industry.

Seeing as the World Economic Forum report predicts that 65 percent of jobs for primary school aged kids will have as adults don’t actually exist yet, he says it’s essential digital technologies and a strong knowledge of tech are taught to the youth of today.

“Many young New Zealanders don’t believe they can have a career in these [creative and tech] sectors and that is just dumb,” Rowsell says.

“How we have taught for the last 150 years is not going to be right for our kids. We should be able to give each kid a customised learning journey and empower teachers to facilitate. Technology can do this. We just need to help the teachers out first. It’s a scary new world.”

This provoked a fiery response or two on Twitter. 

The voice of the teachers hasn’t been front and centre of the conversation – until now.

The Mind Lab, an offshoot of Unitec that is headed up by Francis Valintine, has launched a Faces of Change video campaign that shares how educators are planning on helping others find their footing towards the unpredictable future.

The Mind Lab founder Francis Valintine says education in New Zealand is undergoing a seismic shift based on the changing needs of the workforce, new emerging industries and the need for students to have high levels of digital capability.

“We must prepare our students for this new world. Teachers hold the key,” Valintine says.

Teachers across the country have submitted their videos already detailing how they’re changing education, and the initiative is open for anyone to submit their own video.

Examples include helping students to collaborate, teaching kids how to code, and giving students flexibility around when and how they learn. 

One teacher, Nick Shaw, an associate principal at decile two Prospect School in Glen Eden, explains how he’s helping teachers help kids to be more innovative.

“We ask so much of our children and we know it’s such an important 21st century skill to learn and develop, but as teachers ourselves we’re probably not the best at it,” he says. “Not just the technical stuff, the robotics and the coding and the 21st century digital stuff, it’s a real shift in thinking and that’s been the most important.”

In a recent Q&A with Idealog, Valintine said she personally fields calls from well-meaning parents that would rather have their children learn using analogue teaching practices, rather than accept the future of work will require high levels of digital literacy, regardless of the career.

“As parents, employers or leaders, we need to ensure we don’t hold on to dated concepts purely because new alternatives are unfamiliar or intimidating. This is the era of transformation and at the heart of this change is our own ability to accept progress and to open our minds to new concepts,” she said.

“If we encourage our kids to be confident using technology to create and collaborate they will be far more likely to be excited about the very broad opportunities that technology and digital expertise can bring.”

See all of the educators featured on the Faces of Change on its website.

Elly is Idealog's editor and resident dog enthusiast. She enjoys travelling, tea, good books, and writing about exciting ideas and cool entrepreneurs.

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