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Future-focused learning in connected communities | What does this mean for us?

The Future-focused learning in connected communities report from Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye's 21st Century Learning Reference Group was released on Friday 30 May 2014. If you haven't already, you can download the full version of this report from the Ministry's website:



I’ve finally dived into this report and phrases like, maximising the potential of “… transforming teaching and learning, enabled by technologies that are now widespread in our society” (p4) and “A strategy for learning with digital technologies is critically important for New Zealand's future economic and social prosperity” (p2) makes sense when,

“There is a growing body of evidence that the thoughtful integration of digital technologies with effective teaching practices can significantly improve learning outcomes (Greaves et al., 2010).” (p6)


This report has a nationwide perspective, with recommendations from the reference group - for those at the policy level. In addition to this, some of the key ideas could translate as useful reminders to us all - as we make headway in our own school/kura contexts. 

Here are some tentative questions to consider, that align to the ten strategic priorities for 21st Century skills and digital competencies. You might be interested to see how far your own school/kura has progressed towards achieving these goals already. 

We can ask ourselves:

1. Commit to meeting the needs of 21st century learners

  • Are we actively supporting students to develop digital literacy and information skills and to make wise, responsible and calculated decisions when using technologies?
  • Have we defined deliberate acts of teaching to support and model Digital Citizenship?
  • Do we provide opportunities for students to develop technological literacy skills, such as programming and coding skills?

2. Achieve equitable access to digital devices for every learner

  • Are we making the most of the access to ultra-fast broadband and mobile technologies?
  • Have we taken into consideration; inclusive, safe access to suitable digital technologies, regardless of location, background, abilities or socio-economic status for all our learners?
  • Have we actively sought to address the digital divide – between those who can afford devices and those who can’t?

3. Invest in people and innovation

  • Do we model PLD that supports a focus on effective e-learning pedagogy/practice for all teachers in our school (including support staff, part time staff and relievers)?
  • Does our school culture encourage, acknowledge and celebrate innovative practices and practitioners?
  • Do our compliance procedures (appraisal, RTC) have clear expectations around effective e-learning practice for teachers?
  • Do we encourage collaborative practice within and beyond our school?

4. Create future-focused learning environments

  • Are we providing technology-rich, cyber-safe learning environments, flexible enough to serve multiple learning contexts, including one-to-one, small groups, collaborative and community learning, regardless of time and place (flexible learning spaces, smart libraries)?
  • Are we providing digital access beyond the classroom – to whānau and the wider community?
  • If we have ultra fast broadband or are part of the N4L managed network rollout, are we making the most of these opportunities?

5. Invest in high-quality digital content and systems to make content easily accessible

  • Are we aware of the many NZ digital resources and content available and are we using these resources regularly in the classroom?
  • Do we have a smart way of collating these resources (LMS, web spaces, Intranet) and making them readily available within (or beyond) our school?
  • Are we active in creating or collaborating with other educators to on-share valuable resources across local and global networks (VLN)?

6. Build regional capability through collaboration

  • Do we as educators invest in local and regional networks to create, foster and spread innovative practice?
  • Do we cluster and pool resources to address common issues/trends locally and wider afield?
  • Can we celebrate leaders in our schools - who are proactive about building networks and being professionally visible online?

7. Build a robust evidence base

  • Do we actively reflect on 'teaching as inquiry' with an e-learning lens?
  • Have we put ourselves forward (visibly) as exemplars of effective teaching (digital stories, case study, research, e-fellowships, online professional learning network)?

8. Implement a coordinated, system-wide effort to align curriculum, digital technologies, property, infrastructure, funding and legislation

  • Are we happy we integrate the core elements of digital learning in safe, authentic ways throughout the curriculum?
  • Do our future-focused environments demonstrate an effective use of technologies, property and infrastructure?
  • Are we confident effective teaching and leadership practices enable technologies to make a difference and an impact on our students’ learning?

9. Design a coherent, flexible and robust funding structure to support 21st century learning

  • Have we sought all funding opportunities and partnerships (mass procurement, clustering) to enable #1-8 to come to fruition?

10. Implement a comprehensive five-year plan from 2014

  • Do we have a strategic policy in place, so that an implementation plan or action plan is underway for these digital learning opportunities to come to fruition?
  • Do we have the tools to map where we are, where we’re going to in the future and measure our success?
  • Do we have access to additional resources (experts, networks, MoE) to support us in this journey?

What do you think? Anything else to consider, rethink, add?

If you have any queries or want to dive into these questions further, there's a labyrinth of valuable resources across the VLN/Enabling e-Learning Community groups and in Enabling e-Learning (TKI).


Images sourced from Flickr (1), (2)


  • Leigh Hynes

    Love these self review questions, Tessa!  I am going to forward the link to as many principals as I can.  Thank you for these.

  • Tessa Gray

    Thanks Leigh, I'd love to know how schools might go about discussing these questions too.

    EG: As a staff, do we believe...

    1. these questions are relevant and true?
    2. addressing these 10 key areas will help improve learning outcomes for students?
    3. this will help to improve outcomes at a nationwide level?

    ...next steps...