When these teachers upskilled their tech knowledge, their students surprised them

Tech training for teachers at a tiny Waikato school made a big impact on their students

For one tiny rural school in north Waikato, the leap to online delivery has had some surprising results. Now that the teachers have upskilled in tech, their students are responding by producing knowledge instead of consuming it.

When New Zealand schools had to leap to online learning as classrooms closed across the country during COVID-19, there was an urgent need to upskill teachers to deliver education in ways they hadn’t anticipated before.

Malcolm Roberts is a former primary school deputy principal who is part of the Professional Development and Adult Learning team at Wintec. He coordinates the Graduate Diploma in Information Technology in Education for practising teachers.

He loves tech and knows the value of it for teachers who he says just need the confidence to use applications that will enhance student’s learning.

So he welcomed the chance, along with colleagues Jacira de Hoog and Shona Poppe to deliver training through a Ministry of Education contract to help teachers at Pukemiro School take their delivery into cyberspace and beyond.

Tech and teachers during COVID-19 says Roberts, are an essential partnership.

“Like many teachers they were using Google applications but during the COVID-19 lockdown we were able to upskill them to a level which saw them continue the development of their unfinished website, which they used to communicate with their community, and use their class iPads in new ways.

“When teachers become more confident with tech it has a flow on effect for their students. Their students went from consuming tech to producing it. For example, they are now using the class iPads to create art and animation, and solve problems instead of using them for entertainment.”

The Wintec team used Zoom conferences to deliver training over five weeks with three one-hour sessions per week.  The contract enabled the school to have 40 hours of tech training which Roberts says is invaluable in empowering teachers.

“With tech, you don’t know what you don’t know," says Roberts.

The Wintec team used an applied learning approach, alternating teaching sessions with a session for the teachers to demonstrate what they had learned.

Pukemiro School Principal, Pat Ross says it was a great way to receive professional development as the content was personally tailored to suit their needs.

“The tutors were a great source of knowledge and their expertise and support ensured we learnt a lot in a short amount of time. We enjoyed the personal approach and the content which will be a great help for future teaching and learning, both in the classroom and for distance learning." 

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