Category Archives: MindLab Reflections

Tangongitanga – innovation


TPACK is the acronym for the Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge model that can support our development of modern teaching practice. Most teachers have developed a certain amount of content knowledge, or understanding of “what to teach”, as well as a range of pedagogical skills, or “how to teach”, the final aspect of the model is technological integration. What technological tools effectively enhance teaching and learning in that context?

A teacher with access to multiple devices and technological interventions may make different about what and how to teach to their unique group of learners. Confidence in using the technology available will also affect those choices. Where these three aspects meet is the modern teaching ‘sweet-spot’ – a balance of relevant content, good pedagogy, and integrated technology creates an engaging and effective modern learning context.

Gauging the impact of the technological integration is where the SAMR model comes in…


Six constructs identified by the literature to be relevant to technology integration: technology proficiency, computer anxiety, attitudes and beliefs toward technology in education, previous and planned professional uses of technology, pedagogical styles, and [understanding of social dynamics]”.

“The study confirmed the assumption that teachers’ technology proficiency plays a major role in classroom technology innovations. Moreover, it added a new dimension to the variable. Traditionally, technology proficiency has been understood as the ability to operate a piece of equipment or use a software application. However, our observations suggested that an additional dimension of technology proficiency plays an equally important part: knowledge of the enabling conditions for a technology—that is, knowing what else is necessary to use a specific technology in teaching.”

“Among the qualities of a teacher that appeared to make a project more or less successful was her or his understanding of and ability to negotiate the social aspects of the school culture. Our analyses suggest that socially savvy teachers were more likely to implement their projects successfully. These teachers knew the social dynamics of the school, were aware of where to go for what type of support, and were attentive to their peers.”

Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon, Byers; 2002. “Conditions for Classroom Technology Innovations”


Technological integration in education is important because tomorrow’s economy is reliant on careers that utilise diverse technologies. From food production to fashion design, the dream jobs of the future will have a technology component, possibly even one that we haven’t imagined yet! Molly Schroeder, a global digital age learning specialist, stated earlier this year, in her opening keynote address at GAfE summit Christchurch, that the technology we are using today, is the worst our students will ever have.

There has been a lot of learning over the last few weeks:

  • Developing an understanding of ‘knowledge’ as a verb
  • Cognitosphere, Co-Presence & Thought Leadership
  • Key Competencies & 21st Century Skills

All these ideas will help me identify, justify and plan a digital and collaborative learning innovation that can be applied to a specific area of my teaching practice.


Pūnaha hauropi – ecosystem


Schools can be adaptive, creative, innovative spaces. They can embrace all the vital characteristics of a successful ecosystem: creative, adaptive, permeable, dynamic, systemic, and self-correcting – truly out-of-the-box thinking removed from the past industrial model.

Grant Lichtman describes the cognitosphere – reminiscent of William Gibson’s “post geographical meta-country” description of the internet. Lichtman believes schools should harness their access to the cognitosphere, or shared and responsive knowledge platforms, by working together in collaborative clusters; an initiative that many New Zealand schools have already embraced Communities of Learning introduced in 2014 as part of the IES initiative. Positives of the CoL school networks – problems at one school have most likely already been solved at another, networking enables us to share solutions. The cluster model helps promote the imagery of schools as connected ecosystems. This big idea brings in the next question though – how do we get better at working together, so that our ecosystems thrive?

Developing Co-Presence

Essential to a healthy ecosystem, are innovative leaders. Confident communication, and encouragement in groups, is how ‘leaders’ emerge. People with positive social skills tend to support and encourage others to step outside their comfort zones and try something new. How does this play out in online forums where the physical aspect of ‘co-presence’ is negated? Online social skills and leadership is becoming increasingly important as more of our networking and interactions take place in the ‘cognitosphere’, where immediate feedback via body language and voice tone are invisible. Intrapersonal and interpersonal skills for face to face and online collaboration are crucial, so how do we foster their development in ourselves and our learners?

Practising focused, mindful presence, during face-to-face situations and while online networking will attune learners to the nuance and idiosyncrasies of both situations and support them to engage in deep learning, as well as develop productive relationships.

In my current learning environment my co-teacher and I have regular citizenship sessions. We hold face-to-face circle times and speak openly, and we also hold digital citizenship discussions and tutorials. I believe both are equally important and am proud that my co-teacher and I recognised the need to explicitly teach mindful interactions and have responded to it.

Thought Leadership

Exploration and discovery in this time of change and technological development is going to require embracing some challenges with enthusiasm and overcoming obstacles with positivity and perseverance. Understanding self and appreciating the diverse perspectives of others is fundamental to innovative ‘thought leadership’ and followership.
The NZC Key Competencies are important to learner development and this week we were given an additional framework of 21st Century Skills alongside them to inspire fresh thinking and re-inspiration about how the KC’s can be interpreted and developed.

Key Competencies: ITL Research 21st Century Skills:
Thinking Knowledge Construction
Understanding language, symbols, texts Problem Solving and Innovation
Relating to Others Skilled Communication
Participating and Contributing Collaboration
Managing Self Self-Regulation
Use of ICT for Learning

How might teachers’ and students strengths in developing capabilities in thinking, using language, symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing, be recognised and celebrated?

  • Role-modelling Key Competencies in the classroom, encouraging them as skills in our learners.
  • Utilising the cluster model as a network and opportunity to practice the Key Competencies as a professional.
  • Awareness of cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal strengths and areas for development and seeking out ways to refine and reflect on practice and purpose.

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.

Mōhio – knowledge

Possible dream jobs of the future: organic fashion designer, robot rights lawyer, rainforest reconstructor, dinosaur breeder, or even solar plane racer… As a teacher today, I am preparing learners for an uncertain future, full of unimagined possibilities!

The rate of technological change is at an exponential rate.
As a child, I would imagine being able to access knowledge anywhere and anytime (I wanted limitless books – a library on demand!)… I had no idea that would become reality in my lifetime. We cannot predict now what will be available in our world in 2025… or 2035?!

The future options available are unimaginable to us now…
The rate of technological change has an impact on us in small ways – recently the first AI robotic lawyer, ROSS, was hired; and a self-driving vehicle caused the first fatal accident of its kind leaving us to wonder who was at fault; man or machine? As the world as we know it becomes more like the dystopic Sprawl imagined by William Gibson, there are questions raised about what is important to teach the youth of today about the possibilities of tomorrow?

What is knowledge? Is it an idea, or an action?

Knowledge as Informative / Noun: Blocks of facts (who, what, when, where) and ideas (how, why) that help us navigate the world.

Knowledge as Transformative / Verb: A process of becoming (rather than being) that is specific and unique to each person.

Knowledge definition is impacted by your view of reality. Here we encounter metaphysics and two differing ontological views:

  1. that perception is reality (external and same for all)
  2. that process is reality (internal and uniquely constructed)

So, how do we know things at all?

In a nutshell, humans use reason and evidence to construct knowledge and understanding. Even then there is an element of choice – we must choose to believe that what we discover is true, and fits with our developing theories and assumptions about the world.

How do we decide what is valuable to know? Who decides? Why?

  • Enculturation of people as a social purpose for education, so that we share similar values and belief as a community, and can live harmoniously.
  • Qualification or gaining useful skills and knowledge which has value as a commodity, can be quantified, measured and exchanged for a fee.
  • Subjectification of individuals, or the self-directed growth in areas of interest and critical thinking that keep us satisfied as individuals.

The intent to create a predictable and measurable education outcome (treating schools as enculturation or qualification factories, churning nameless masses into ‘ideal’ citizen workers) takes away the spontaneous and innovative development opportunities of individuals. Personalised flexible learning pathways are increasingly important, yet education cannot be a sovereign or chaotic system without constraint either. There needs to be an option that balances structured, predictable intents with personalisation.

Knowledge is what empowers us to be, to create, to dream, to act, to achieve, and to connect; and the purpose of education is to learn how to learn, to communicate, to unlearn and re-learn, to create, to question, to apply, and to challenge and be challenged… 


What what assumptions about teaching and learning underlie my teaching practice?

  • A supportive environment recognizes and promotes the acceptance of diverse individuals. Learners need to feel a sense of belonging and safety.
  • Quality learning occurs within a collaborative and constructive community. Learners who work together and encourage each other can focus their combined strengths towards achieving outcomes greater than could be achieved alone.
  • High learning-focused expectations should be clearly communicated. Learners should feel challenged and empowered to strive for their own success.
  • Learners should be encouraged to develop relevant knowledge, flexible skills, and a mindset that enables their active participation in their community and the wider world.
  • The teaching and learning environment is influenced by the relationships developed with the wider community, particularly learners family/whānau.