Monday, June 3, 2013

Scenario Planning for primary/secondary education in NZ

E-Learning is growing fast in New Zealand schools and has been one of the priorities of the Ministry of Education over the last few years.  Major disruptions in Canterbury schools, due to the 2010-2011 earthquakes have shown the potential of e-Learning to increase resilience (Davis, 2011). Schools’ involvement in the national Virtual Learning Network that enables students to enrol in online courses, regardless of their geographic area has further shown the potential of e-Learning to increase flexibility and student choice (Pratt & Trewern, 2011). The government’s initiative to implement Ultra Fast Broadband in Schools (UFBiS) with ongoing support from the Network 4 Learning ( and the enabling e-Learning website ( is expected to further increase the uptake of e-Learning in schools.

As a result of this, BYOD is one of the key trends in New Zealand primary/secondary education, which is also one of the key trends in the 2013 horizon report (NMC, 2013):
As the cost of technology drops and school districts revise and open up their access policies, it is becoming more common for students to bring their own mobile devices. (p.4)
In addition, the focus on 21st century teaching and learning is challenging the traditional role of students and teachers, a key trend that is also identified in the 2013 Horizon report (NMC, 2013):
The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is challenging us to revisit our roles as educators. (p.4)

These trends involve a range of uncertainties that can be placed on the two axes of the scenario matrix:  
Equity vs inequity: With regards to BYOD, it is normal to expect that, in conjunction with UFB, it will enable equitable access to information/resources/learning opportunities. On the other hand, the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ might become bigger. Therefore one of the key uncertainties is whether BYOD will increase educational equity or create inequity issues.
Traditional vs 21st century teaching & learning: 21st century teaching and learning involves the use of digital technologies in the classroom, but it also involves more learner control and less traditional direct instruction. Teachers’ needs for adequate PD will increase, not only in terms of how to use the new tools, but also in terms of  how to effectively implement them to facilitate (not direct) student learning. However, one of the key uncertainties is whether schools and teachers will eventually enable the 21st century learner or ICT will be used as a way to sustain traditional instruction with the teacher still being at the centre of the instruction.

Using the scenario matrix, the 4 scenarios for the future of primary/secondary education in New Zealand are:

1.  Traditional teaching & learning – equitable access: Schools are implementing BYOD with devices that are purchased by parents, with funding from other organizations where needed. Schools are connected and collaborating in clusters, depending on their needs/goals, often driven by the need to have access to more resources/content. Shared content is often copyrighted. Teachers are often involved in structured PD sessions within and beyond the school where the early adopters/experts share how to use new and existing tools. E-learning is implemented as a way to extend students’ learning experiences outside the classroom, with continuous guidance from teachers (online or onsite).

2. 21st century teaching & learning – equitable access: BYOD is funded by families/whānau or other bodies where needed. Teachers form their own communities of practice, with interest groups within and beyond the school, sharing educational practices and ideas. Student-centred, creative, collaborative learning is encouraged. Personal online learning environments are student-created, often shared with families/whānau, increasing the links between schools and the community. Collaboration between schools enables students and teachers to form their own learning communities, regardless of the geographic area of their school. Shared ownership of content and CC licensing is more prevalent.

3.  21st century teaching & learning – inequitable access: Schools provide a limited number of devices to students who don’t own one to use in school and/or to hire for use at home. Students who have and bring their devices in school are often sharing them with other students. Learning through collaboration is more prevalent. Teachers are engaged in PD within and beyond their school, often working in communities of practice, sharing open content/resources. Teachers and schools are more likely to join groups/communities that have similar access levels.

4. Traditional teaching & learning – inequitable access: Schools are working in silos depending on their access levels. Teachers are encouraged to engage in PD, mainly within the school. Links with other schools are seen as a way to increase access to resources and content. Schools are trying hard to protect the ownership of their resources/content. Students are encouraged to bring their own devices in class at times when a lesson is planned accordingly. These devices are often shared between students who are given direct instructions on how to use them.    

Reflecting on this attempt to use scenario planning for primary/secondary education in New Zealand, I find that this is a fascinating process, that engages the brain in constant thinking about the trends, uncertainties and involved implications. The more I engage with the scenario matrix, the more I have to face my own biases, which confirms to me that this needs to be a collaborative process. 

Davis, N. (2011). Online and blended learning rolling into New Zealand Schools. Computers in New Zealand Schools: Learning, teaching, technology, 23(1), 1-7. Retrieved from
New Media Consortium. (2013). Horizon Project Preview 2013 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from
Pratt, K., & Trewern, A. (2011). Students’ experiences of flexible learning options: What can they tell us about what they need for success? Computers in New Zealand Schools: Learning, Teaching, Technology, 23(2).


  1. Your scenario set is very good as it is but I think I might have made the contrast stronger, if only to be more provocative. For example, in scenario ‘3. 21st century teaching & learning – inequitable access’ high inequitable access may cause tension and disruption, which is a risk we may face in New Zealand and abroad when there is high bandwidth in highly populated high income areas, but low elsewhere.

    Excellent work at the postgraduate level Pinelopi given your relevant citations of quality sources. For 21st century skills a useful reference to add would be:
    Bolstad, R., & Gilbert, J. et al. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching - a New Zealand perspective. Retrieved June 3, 2013 from

  2. Thank you for your feedback Niki - you know how I like diplomacy, but I agree with you that sometimes being a bit more provocative helps! I will try and make the contrast clearer on the next post :-)

  3. Very interesting work Pinelopi. I'm interested in the tension between "21st C." and "Traditional Teaching and Learning." Your citation, "The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is challenging us to revisit our roles as educators" suggests that technology will somehow cause this change, but I didn't look at the source. So, I don't see how BYOD is going to result in a change in the roles of teachers and learners. Interaction has always been possible in a face to face environment but this possibility hasn't caused any change in the dominant, teacher / materials centered paradigm. Professional development can be part of this change, but this can't be a catalyst either - we have been doing this, too, for 80 years at least. For me this refocusing on learning will require a major change in the way teachers see education, and how they see themselves in this process.

  4. Thank you for your comment Mark – your point really made me think more about the presence of interaction in education and the role of the teacher. I agree with you – interaction has almost always been there but I would like to challenge the idea that it hasn't changed the role of the teacher. I am thinking about education in ancient times, before Socrates and the Socratic method that involves student-teacher interaction – what was the role of the teacher before that? Later, when group learning was introduced in schools, involving more interaction between students – how did that affect teacher and student roles?

    Today, new technologies enable more interaction within and mainly beyond the class, opening new windows to students and teachers. The students can interact with other people, share and collaborate beyond the four walls of their class. In addition, with the increased availability of information because of ICT, knowledge is no longer something that the teacher passes to students. It is something that students can easily research and find themselves or learn through interaction, with the teacher now helping them to develop the skills to assess that information, to critically reflect on it and generate new knowledge.

    One of the articles that I’ve read and really helped me to clarify this is Jane Gilbert’s Knowledge, the disciplines and learning in the digital age. You can find an open version here:

    I’m really interested to keep this dialogue going. Let me know what you think :-)

    Gilbert, J. (2007). Knowledge, the disciplines and learning in the digital age. Journal of Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 6(2), 115-122.