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Indigenous cultures and e-Learning

Started by Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu 05 Nov 2013 2:09pm () Replies (22)

Recently I've been having discussions with colleagues around their perspectives on Māori and e-Learning, and Pasifika and e-Learning.  

We've been wrestling with the ideas around how Māori or Pasifika learners see their cultural identities within their learning, if e-Learning is the vehicle/tool/framework through which to raise their academic achievement.

Some concerns were raised around potential loss of cultural identities through focusing too much on the fixation on technology (negative consequence) compared to using e-Learning and technology as a way to celebrate cultural identities.  

Too often the focus can be on the segregation/separation of indigenous cultures and everything associated with cultural identities (multi-ethnic, intra-ethnic, bi-cultural, multi-cultural) from e-Learning, because people see them as separate, or may even value one over the other.

What are your thoughts on what TRUE INTEGRATION would look like?

What would be the best of both worlds?

How can blended e-Learning be a way or an approach to assist Māori and Pasifika learners in navigating their way to success?

What type of success are we talking about here? 


  • Alana Madgwick (View all users posts) 05 Nov 2013 2:36pm ()

    Talofa lava,

    What a fabulous discussion Manu.  Thank you for starting it.  I am working in low decile secondary schools supporting teachers to raise student achievement.  I guess the first issue I have to raise is one of equity.  I definitely see technology as a valuable vehicle for accelerating student achievement and efficacy within secondary classrooms.  However the ability to have:

    1. access to technology in classrooms is not equal

    2. access to technology outside of classrooms is not equal.

    So access has to be equitable before we can analyse the effect it can have.

    The second discussion point would be teacher competency to use technology effectively in their classroom practice.  There is no doubt that if a teacher values students' identity, culture and language in their classroom practice then technology can add an extra (exciting and engaging) dimension to their toolbox (students and teachers and whanau).  However as with any quality resource- it is how you use it that is more important than what it is.  As seen in the English online resource "Differentiation in English', Tamaki College shows how technology can be used to personalise and differentiate programmes of learning that is successful for Pasifika learners.

    I see technology as a limitless resource for teachers and students to inquire into how it helps students build their self-efficacy, key competencies and enhance, value their cultural identity by opening global doors.  The opportunties are endless however we must reflect/ adapt and change as we use it.  Gather student voice- achievement data to ensure we are just not using technology for the sake of it. (That's assuming we have access).

    My two cents worth,


    Alana Madgwick

  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 05 Nov 2013 10:28pm ()

    Malo lava Alana,

    Thank you for the points you have raised.

    Equity is definitely an issue.  The technology and associated tools must be accessible for our learners at home and at school in all classrooms, (all day, every day for early childhood centres, primary and intermediate schools; in every period of every day for secondary school learners), as this is critical to creating learning successes for our students.

    If equity is an issue, what are some strategies that schools have used to "work around" the inequity?

    In my secondary teaching experience, access to technology was always problematic and teachers who valued the input of e-Learning would bring in their own tools to compensate for the equity.  Using the tools by structuring timetabled slots so that small groups in the class could get access or having the one tool for the whole class to view and access are just some examples of compensatory mechanisms. 

    I wonder how others feel about how we can continue to focus on meaningful learning for our indigenous learners  with equity still rearing its head?

  • Monika Kern (View all users posts) 07 Nov 2013 2:05pm ()

    Equity is a huge issue, but is this a cultural or a poverty issue? Meaning, too many Pasifika and Maori students are lacking the access because of poverty not because of their ethinicity? The cause of the poverty might well be ethnicity related of course, with the current or a past generation being treated in a way that disadvantages them because of their ethinicity.

    I have always found Kiwis very resourceful people that instead of a barrier see an opportunity in such challenges, and the Manaiakalani Cluster of schools is certainly a great example of how they have gone ahead with facilitating access to technology despite the inequity. A small cluster of schools in the Far North, the Kaikohekohe LCN Cluster, are now following in their footsteps and are very thankful for the support they are receiving from Manaiakalani. The 3 schools are deciles 1 and 2 with at least 75% or their combined rolls being Maori students, and like Manaiakalani they will be offering their senior students 21st century learning with 1-on-1 devices.

    I am not saying it is not hard work, but there are examples out there that make it possible to overcome inequity to a certain degree. How we use the technology to truly teach in a culturally responsive way is my big question...

  • Linda Brown (View all users posts) 07 Nov 2013 6:30pm ()

    I agree there are some fantastic examples of looking at the situation from a positive standpoint rather than the age old deficit theorising model which has been applied for several generations. As far as equity of resources go there is not always a need for a classroom to have a device for each student, with group teaching, student led inquiry and differentiated teaching and learning there would rarely be a time when all students would be on a device at the same time.  Using them as another tool in their learning toolkit rather than the only tool allows them to use the right tool for the job.  Learning to work collaboratively in class and across the school means that when you need them they are there but when you do not they can be used elsewhere in the school.  There are also opportunities to work with the technology they have until they can use it effectively for learning not just for social medial gossiping but real time collaborative learning.  I would be interested to know how many devices are being utilised fully when there is 1-1 available.

  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 08 Nov 2013 2:05am ()

    Equity is a huge issue, but I'm not sure if you could categorise it as being either cultural or poverty, as poverty in some cases may not be ethnicity-related (varying shades of this maybe...) but could be attributed to other factors that need not entertain a horse and cart, chicken and egg scenario - the fact that equity is an issue - is one that seems to be gaining consensus as a contributing factor to the disparity.  Equity is as equity does; and like Linda I would like to see more responses from those schools that do have that 1:1 ratio.

    How do we use technology to truly teach in a culturally responsive way?  There is still debate about what being culturally responsive looks like as some schools may struggle to know how to effectively engage or be responsive to the cultural needs of their learners.  Could it be as simple as seeing what strategies work for Māori and Pasifika  learners that stem from their home communities (iwi, hapu, whānau, fanau, kainga, aiga) and connecting it with similar approaches using technology to bring it to the 21st century?  Is it that simple?  Looking forward to more discussion!

  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 05 Nov 2013 2:48pm ()

    I have been grappling with how to enable Maori students to achieve as Maori in a blended environment.  I think that teachers (talking about myself here too) are somehow afraid to trial different blended strategies for fear of gettting it wrong and putting Maori students off.  I do believe we have to just jump in and trial these strategies and as well as collect data, ask for feedback from the students to know if we are on the right track.  The trick is not to be afraid of making mistakes. 

    I have written a couple of blogs of making visual mihi and flipping classes (making videos for learning) using a cultural context but don't really know if I am on the right track.  It just seems to be a good place to start, though.

  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 06 Nov 2013 2:52pm ()

    Meitaki maata Leigh!

    The links you provided are fantastic examples of how to use cultural context in the classroom.  I wonder how many teachers are able to think about adapting their pedagogy to embrace ako and reciprocal learning, being more of a facilitator focusing on student-centred and student-directed rather than the teacher as the fountain of knowledge.  The most powerful tool I have come across has been the use of student voice and allowing space and time in lessons to ask students, providing a platform for them to respond to questions about their learning and working on metacognition - how do they learn best, what subjects they love and why, how they learn in their favourite subjects and why they don't learn in their least favourite subjects.  As a teacher I have been able to take those answers and ask the entire class for their thoughts - a consensus approach creates a classroom culture that is able to respond to the integration of indigenous cultures and e-Learning.

  • Jason Ruakere (View all users posts) 05 Nov 2013 8:22pm ()

    Kia ora Manu for initiating this important kaupapa. We too are wrestling with this same issue in Taranaki. A number of people I have had kōrero with around e-learning have raised similar concerns raised by Alana around equity and access. Some of our whānau still struggle to meet the basic needs for school such as uniform, stationery, fees and extra-curricular costs. In some situations kids go without kai and don't have a pen or paper!

    In my previous role as a Kaiawhina for Māori boys I supported boys that were disengaged in school for various reasons and we experimented with blended learning approaches such as Moodle and mobile devices to find out if these could support the boys. What we discovered is that the boys were a lot more responsive and engaged in their learning through using these approaches. We tried to encourage the school to take this further and provide opportunities for the boys to participate in cultural activities outside the school to connect to their marae communities. But due to the established structure, time and costs this did not evetuate.

    Various iwi members and educators I have spoken to in Taranaki are both excited and cautious with the development of technology. They envisage the benefits for Māori achieving as Māori in educational spaces, community spaces and cultural spaces such as marae, hui and wānanga. But much more discussion is required around access, equity, cultural and safety implications. I would be interested to know what whānau and kaiako in Māori medium and mainstream schools think about this kaupapa?

    E mihi atu ana,


  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 07 Nov 2013 8:09pm ()

    Really enjoying this kōrero, everyone, and thank you to Manu for raising it. I concur with the previous points related to the importance of teacher value and belief driving the integration of technology. The issue of access and equity is one that many schools are facing - regardless of culture - although in places where the movement to BYOD is happening, there is no doubt that attention to disparity must be paid. There are, though, great examples across New Zealand of how strong leadership, genuine collaboration with iwi and community, and clear vision have put plans in place to overcome barriers created by wider social inequity.

    In terms of the effective use of technology that is woven into culturally responsive teaching, there is a growing set of resources in Enabling e-Learning on TKI, as well as here in the VLN, in relation to this kaupapa that some of the people in this thread have contributed to:

    Increasingly, when I work with teachers around e-learning, the conversations are moving away from the technology and back to the 'so what' and purpose of learning design. With students from all backgrounds increasingly having 'doors to the world' in the palms of their hands, the need for all of us to re-think how we design learning that is personalised, responsive and meaningful becomes ever more crucial, if we are not to miss amazing opportunities to extend learning pathways.

  • Alana Madgwick (View all users posts) 07 Nov 2013 8:54pm ()

    Thank you Karen for your links- what I love about these stories is at that the teachers show cased have a belief that they can and do value each individual's culture, language and identity & whānau. It is through this belief that then technology is used as one of the (exciting) vehicles to allow this.

    I don't think the question is 'How can we use technology to be culturally responsive?' I think the question should start with- How are you being culturally responsive in your teaching practice?  Once teachers have a belief that it is their job to do this- then how they do it- comes naturally. It is in how they talk, how they set tasks, how they set their classrooms up, how they greet students etc.

    Technology helps us explore how to do it but doesn't answer the Why should I?

  • Roimata Baker (View all users posts) 07 Nov 2013 11:16pm ()

    Equity - yes this is so important.  We are having conversations about devices and access so that students can enjoy the benefits of Ako-E at home as well as at kura.  I'd like to see this access extend to marae.  Here we have rooms and another building that I'd love to see being used as a study hub for our tamariki.  It's ideal as it is so central.  

    For Kura Kaupapa Māori - developing the content and ensuring that staff are well supported with PD is vital to the success of Ako-E.  

    Jason I too have seen wonderful progress with boys.  It started with Photobooth book chats posted on Edmodo and it continues now with students writing their own short stories, emailing me at night for directions on how to log in so they can crack on and while I'm wary of never clocking out, I'm loving the fact that they want to work at home.  

    We need more apps in Māori.  We need to keep talking about this,  we need more PD.  Kia kaha ki a tātou katoa.

  • Josie Peita (View all users posts) 08 Nov 2013 7:24am ()

    Roimata I love your ideas for the marae and whanau at home. It must be very exciting to have your tamariki engaging with you to learn more in their own time. What a thrill for koro, kuia, nga matua, and siblings to be able to lsupport and earn alongside in this way. Exciting! Totally agree about apps in Te Reo Maori and PLD for kaupapa Maori and rumaki reo Maori teachers and whanau.

  • Karl Vasau (View all users posts) 11 Nov 2013 12:35am ()

    Hi everyone...i am just thinking out loud here so please no haters lol...

    I believe that technology is just ONE tool we are encouraging our pupils to use to enhance thier learning opportunities...We have seen positive use and development but can technology be associated with achievement...how is it measured?

    I dont think schools have thought enough or AT ALL about how students will use technology to express or strengthen their cultural identity as we have traditional ways of doing this within our own cultures. Have we asked our parents or communities about using technology for this purpose...my school hasnt..."Culturally responsive" massive statement needs korero... 

    If a community of parents (any culture) can be convinced, assisted, educated or exposed to technology as a tool for enhancing their child/ren learning then they WILL invest. Barriers of affordability and access are a matter of priority for families and that if it is clear to them about their potential then it will happen...of course their a many situations of families who are struggling and experiencing poverty, but i am often inspired that some of these families within my own community are making that INVESTMENT...

    just some thoughts :):)


  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 12 Nov 2013 2:16am ()

    Fakaaue lahi Karl, there certainly needs to more korero around what being culturally responsive means.  I agree that although equity is an issue that parents can be supported in their move to invest time and money into their children's learning.  

    p.s. Not hating on any comments - just appreciating :-)

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 12 Nov 2013 2:41pm ()

    What a great question Manu, "How do we use technology to truly teach in a culturally responsive way?" Thank you for inviting the conversation.

    When we use technologies to explore, create, communicate (as part of the learning process), the challenge lies between what/where we access information and how we project ourselves locally and in the wider global context. This largely takes on a ‘eurocentric’ look and feel – mainly due to the digital resources available.

    Roimata touched on this when she comments, "We need more apps in Māori". There are a growing number of digital resources in/for Māori and Pasifika such as Digistore, (including Māori related resources) Facebook in Te Reo Māori, resources for Pasifika students and celebrating Te Reo Māori but throwing a set of digital resources to students in a cultural context won't necessarily amount to culturally responsive practice. It might mean the need for more defined learner set goals, with and through the use of technologies.

    If we want our children to access, process and construct knowledge that truly reflects cultural identity - what would this look like? Would it include representation of language, visuals and content/contexts in a digital format? What would we need to do as school leaders and teachers to enable this happen?

    As part of an on-going process to review/refine the e-Learning Planning Framework resources, some thinking is emerging about how schools, teachers, students, whānau and communities can use technologies effectively to reflect cultural responsive practices.

    In light of this, I've had a little play with the following shared Google Doc that tries to align aspects from the Leadership, Teaching and Beyond the Classroom dimensions of the eLPF with a cultural responsive lens.

    eLPF, cultural responsive practice and RTC

    I'm not sure if I'm on the right track or not and would love others to 'jump in' and add some specific goals for teachers/school/students as well as any ideas/examples/resources that might help address explicit ways of working with technologies that would truly reflect cultural responsiveness. Is that ok? Love to see how this grows. Smile


    Largely taken from Registered Teacher Criteria and e-learning

  • Lynda Stuart (View all users posts) 12 Nov 2013 6:55pm ()

    Re - e-learning and cultural responsiveness

    Hi everyone. Just a quick response. We are just beginning this journey as a cluster of 6 schools in the Mt Albert/ Mt Roskill area. We are working closely with Manaiakalani ( many of you will have heard of this cluster). Our name is Ako Hiko - which encompasses teaching and learning as a two way experience which can be enhanced by the use of modern information and communication devices. As schools we have large numbers of Pasifika and Maori students alongside students of many other ethnicities. Whanau in our schools have been an integral part of making the decision to move into leasing students individual devices from the beginning of 2014. They see that this is their children's present not their future and want to take every step possible to support their children's learning. Not easy for many of them but we are making it as affordable and well supported as we can. Two classrooms in each of the schools are moving into this. Professional learning development is happening for the teachers of the rooms and this is extremely exciting. The achievement challenge that is at the centre of our work is around writing and results will be shared and we are hoping that this will be a part of research also.
    Enjoy the week.

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