SAMR & Google Apps – an infographic

SAMRJust on-sharing this infographic below based on SAMR and Google Apps for Education.

The jump between modification and redefinition is very big in my opinion. In some ways I think it should be, but there really is nothing much going on between substitution to modification (ie. I don’t see “significant task redesign” in the modification part).


Google Apps and the SAMR Framework Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics


SAMR Image source: Dr Ruben R. Puentedura CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0

A day at Puniho Marae

This post is cross-posted from the Virtual Learning Network, Enabling e-Learning group Beyond the Classroom blog.

I had the privilege, on Monday, to be able to spend the day with Jason Ruakere on his marae. This was very much a step outside of the comfort zone for this city lover. For me it really was like being in another world. I was out of the city. The pace was slower. It was more relaxed. I was introduced to eating Pūhā – which Jason had collected and cooked with pork bones – and immersed (at least in a small way) into Māori culture.

Reflecting on this it makes me sad that it was outside of my comfort zone and that of many other New Zealanders because it should be a part of what makes us Kiwi. The Māori culture may not specifically be my culture but it is part of my Kiwi-ness. Speaking for myself (although I’m confident this is the case for many Pākehā), I am quick to embrace some parts of Te Ao Māori when it suits me (the haka as a part of our rugby and sporting culture, for example) but other parts I tend to shy away from. I know this is due to a lack of understanding on my part – understanding of what is being said or done and why it is happening.

Puniho Marae


As a part of my inquiry this year I really want to find ways to connect with and engage with parents, whānau, and the school community. From my perspective, this is an area that many schools struggle with. By getting the opportunity to spend time with Jason, and the boys he has been teaching on the marae, I was able to experience a way of learning that is relatively unfamiliar to me but is quite normal for a large number of families in New Zealand.


On arrival I was welcomed onto the marae with a karanga from one of the “aunties” and a hongi with all present. I have to say I was grateful that is was just a small affair, which included the 5 boys that Jason has been teaching, as I think if everyone had been asked to come to the pōwhiri I might have felt a bit more uncomfortable. Jason gave a short mihi and I responded with a mihi that I had managed to learn (and get all the way through without checking my notes!) in the three days leading up to the visit. We then went around the group sharing our pepeha, starting with Jason and ending with me. This was a good chance for the boys and me to practice our pepeha.

Kōrero tuku iho

A quick break for morning tea before it was time to hear some of the stories of the marae and local area. I found this fascinating and really wished I had a better memory to recall all that was shared! Jason had been sharing the stories with the boys and continued the tradition of oral storytelling by encouraging the boys to share the stories with me. And they did well! It was great to see them supporting each other as they shared how Rauhoto, the rock that placed on the marae, came to be there. How Taranaki maunga had followed the rock from the central North Island area after losing a battle with Tongariro maunga over the beautiful Pihanga.

It was great to see the boys’ fascination and interest in the photos of people within the various whare. They were interested in the stories about them, and how they fit within the history of the area. It helped reinforce to me the importance of whanaungatanga.

Between the dining room and whare we passed a couple of mill stones. It amazed me that the boys would likely have walked past them many times but they had never asked what they were or where they came from, but then I realised I probably would’ve done the same if Jason hadn’t pointed them out to me! Jason shared that there used to be a number of factories in the area and the marae used to be a very busy place with many more houses situated around it. There were a number of dairy factories as well as a flour mill. The mill stones came from the nearby flour mill next to Werekino stream at the end of Komene road.

Mill stones at Puniho Marae

Te Reo and technology

Before the boys had to head back to school at lunchtime, they showed me some of the work they had been doing on the iPads. This included drawing and telling the story that I shared above of Taranaki maunga’s journey to where it is today. The purpose of this was for the boys to retell the story of the maunga in their own words. One of the boys told me he didn’t like writing with a pen because his writing wasn’t very neat and he found it difficult, but was happy to type stories on the iPad. They all said it was fun but they were confident they were learning.

I was also shown some of videos they had made using rākau (Cuisenaire rods). The boys had Te Reo lessons, after which they photographed each stage of their learning and recording their voice to help with pronunciation. Using Educreations they were able to revisit the lesson to reinforce their learning.

Jason then took us through a quick lesson in Te Reo using the rākau. Although a simple lesson, I found it a little challenging having to listen carefully for the words I did recognise (numbers and colours) and pick up the correct number rākau of a certain colour. Then Jason changed the words slightly to something he had taught the boys recently and I had to listen carefully to what he was saying to the boys and what they were doing as a result. Instead of saying a particular number, he was saying “tētehi” meaning “one of” and “ētehi” meaning ”some of”. I was not familiar with these words at all and had to interpret their meaning as he was talking to the boys.

As a teacher of science in my past life, this was a good reminder that we can sometimes speak another language (in my case scientific vocabulary) that our students have to pay close attention to, in order to understand! Teachers/educators/academics often speak another language too!


After lunch, Jason took me to Parihaka – a significant site during the land wars in the latter half of the 1800s. He explained his connection to Parihaka and also the stories of the main leaders of the various marae. While I don’t remember all of the details, I really came away with a sense of community and belonging for those of the area. There is so much history and meaning for the families living there and those from the area.

Beyond the classroom—engaging the community

From a school perspective, the trip to Puniho emphasised to me the importance in making connections beyond the classroom with the local community, whānau and marae. As a school we should be aware of the history and tikanga of the community in which we are situated. Connections to this knowledge can be made through the learning that occurs in the classroom.

Schools are busy places. As a result it can be easy, sometimes, to fall into the trap of “ticking the box” in regards to community consultation and engagement. Schools are a part of the community in which they are situated. Instead of having a hui at the marae – taking school-specific business to the marae – what if you decided as a school to build partnerships with the community without a set agenda? What if you took your staff and/or students to sit amongst the koroua, kuia and others gathered at the marae and let them tell their story? This may help the school to develop an understanding of its place within the community as well as helping the wider community feel comfortable to speak into the life, goals and plans of the school.

Monday Mentions: 11 August 2014

BlogCheck out my favourite blog posts from the past week.

  1. Managing change in your school – What is missing? by Leigh Hynes from the blog Hynessight. This post highlights some of the challenges that come about due to change in a school (or anywhere). If you haven’t considered each of the five parts of change management then stress can easily build amongst staff.
  2. Pond and Copyright: negotiating the waters by Chris South from the N4L Blog. I’m sharing this post for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as Pond continues to develop, it’s useful to know how N4L/Pond is dealing with copyright infringements and what our responsibility as educators is. Secondly, the N4L blog is a useful one to follow to keep up-to-date with what is going on with N4L, the Managed Network and of course Pond.
  3. Five Good Resources for Teaching Digital Safety and Citizenship to Elementary School Students by Richard Byrne from the blog Free Technology for Teachers. Richard shares a range of useful digital citizenship resources for you to use with your students.

Should the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?

TNG combadge
In education, especially when you’re involved with technologies and e-learning there seems to be a constant barrier in place trying to hold things back. I often hear about the lack of connectivity of many of our students or their families. Or I hear about the issue of money or affordability. These are all valid concerns, but for how long should we hold back before we decide to do something that would benefit a great number of students.

So often in education we look at the few that can’t do something and that holds us back. Yes, I understand we want equity across all, but surely we also want to offer a better quality education. How long should we stay where we are just so we’re not leaving anyone behind? What about looking for ways to help those who cannot access or cannot afford the technology?

To quote Star Trek… Should “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

Personally, I think they should.

At some point, we need to say, we’re going to move forward because we don’t want to leave everyone behind. The world is changing at a very rapid pace. If we don’t jump on-board, what we offer is going to become meaningless or perhaps obsolete.

We live in a world where people are collaborating, creating, sharing, presenting, innovating, interacting and socialising more than ever. These skills were already necessary, but are seemingly even more necessary. These skills need to be taught, not just in face-to-face situations but also virtually. The skills are at least a little different in both situations but our students need to be able to manage in both situations.

At my workplace, I meet with staff in meeting rooms face-to-face, and at the same time I might be meeting with staff in several other offices either through Video Conferencing, Adobe Connect or similar. I imagine this is going to get more and more common as time goes on.

I’m not saying we leave those who can’t access or afford things behind, but let’s also not disadvantage the future lives of those who can. Let’s educate our students to be successful citizens of the time they live in and try to prepare them to be successful citizens in their future.

Modern learning spaces & collaboration

Albany Senior High School (1)

I read this blog post from the CORE Education blog Modern Learning Environments: Not ‘any colour as long as it’s black’ and the second part of it headed up Teacher learning really got me thinking.

Firstly, a disclaimer: I have never taught in a modern learning space. These are simply my thoughts and observations from what I have seen, read and heard.

I imagine, although I cannot be certain that probably 95% or more of schools in New Zealand do not have modern learning spaces (I would love someone to tell me that I’m very wrong about this!). There could be a number of reasons for this, but I imagine that the most likely is that most of our schools are aging, and the funding that they receive for building and maintenance does not enable them to modernise across the school very quickly – they either have to do one or two classrooms or a block at a time, or try to do a little bit across all/many classrooms. I have a little bit of experience as a Board of Trustees member and when it comes to buildings there seems to be a balancing act between these classrooms must be replaced now and let’s be fair across everyone and upgrade a part of every classroom so that it’s consistent across the school. I believe many of our schools simply haven’t been given a real opportunity to update themselves, so unless you’re in a brand new school, chances are high that you’re teaching or learning in silos – in individual classrooms separated from one another by four walls.

It has been my observation that sometimes (certainly not always the case) these classrooms become a certain teachers domain, and although some are willing to collaborate, often collaboration does not occur at the level perhaps needed/desired.

Interestingly, I have also observed in online “classrooms”, in what could be considered a modern learning space, that we talk a lot about how collaboration and interaction can occur with students but seem to do little of it with teachers. The technology we are using to run these online classes is set up for communication and interaction but it appears often that only goes as far as our students. Yes, I am generalising, and I’m sure those that are reading this blog are collaborating with other teachers in a variety of ways, however I know this is not always the case.

I strongly believe that if we have these expectations of our students, then we as teachers need to be doing it too. We need to collaborate with teachers in our schools and build professional networks to learn, to grow and to inspire us. We need to do what we can to move out of the comfortable silos that we we have grown accustomed to and share our experiences with our colleagues.

This year I have started team-teaching online with two other teachers. It’s going to be an interesting journey as we bare all in how we teach and interact online. I think it will be good for all of us because we are having to be open and because we are able to learn from each other. We have no choice but to work together.


BTW: The CORE Ed blog is well worth following if you don’t already.

Image: Albany Senior High School By 4nitsirkKristina D.C. Hoeppner –

E-learning or learning?

I’ve heard quite a few people say that there is, or should not be, e-learning. It is just learning. While I agree with them in principle I believe it is important at this stage that we keep the ‘e’. Yes, while our job as educators is to teach / facilitate / guide (whatever term you prefer) students in their learning, and no, it’s not – or shouldn’t be – about the tools that we use, I believe that technology should be integrated into teaching and learning. The problem I see, is that although there are some teachers and schools doing this well, there are many others that have not even begun this journey.

There are probably many reasons why some have not taken up integrating technology into their teaching. Perhaps they are scared of it, or scared of doing something wrong/breaking it. Perhaps they don’t have time to learn it. Maybe they don’t believe it is necessary. It could be that getting through ‘the curriculum’ is most important to them. Personally, I believe (and I mentioned this in a recent post) if we don’t integrate technology, we’re disadvantaging our students.

Until it’s the norm for teachers to integrate technology into their teaching, then the ‘e’ needs to stay there. We need to show teachers that integrating e-learning/technology into their teaching is just a standard part of the job now. I think we also need to demonstrate to our wider school communities that e-learning does not mean our students, our children will be sitting in front of a screen all day, effectively cut off from the rest of the world. I believe this is a common misconception about e-learning (although it’s possibly legitimate in some circumstances). It’s about using technology to enhance the learning experience. It’s about using the tools we now have to expand our students creativity, their imagination. It’s about showing our students that with some of these tools that can do and be things they never imagined.

Yes, we need to drop the ‘e’ from e-learning. But not yet. For a while longer it needs to be separated to show what can be done with technology and to encourage more to jump in.

Is technology important in a classroom?

I firstly need to clear something up… Technology has always been used as a teaching tool. Eg. papyrus, slates, blackboards, overhead projectors (remember those? – Many teachers still use them!). Technology is dependent on what we know and understand at the time. Just because we have access to laptops, iPads, interactive whiteboards/projectors, mobile phones etc now, does not mean that technology in the classroom is a new idea. We’re just using different technology that has been used in the past.

Of course I’m specifically talking about computers, tablets, mobile phones and any other modern device you might be able to think of.

If we are not allowing/using at least some of these devices in the classroom as a part of learning then I think we’re disadvantaging our students.

Perhaps that’s a big statement to make, as there are many excellent teachers in schools teaching without using this technology, however I struggle to think of any jobs that does not require the use of this type of technology at some point.

I’m not talking about using these devices for word processing or simply publishing their work. We are beyond the age of typewriters. Teachers and students need to use these devices to be creative! Rather than sitting at a desk and writing by pen a draft story to then be edited before being typed up on a computer, our students could be writing and editing on the computer (that’s what they’re for). Or the student might not ‘publish it’ as a written story at all. Perhaps they will video themselves reading their story and share it on YouTube? Or maybe they will share it through an animation site?

When used to the full potential, our students are able to be creative and innovative and share their ideas they’ve come up with or created using technology, with a wide audience via the internet. They can receive feedback from this wide audience on their ideas/compositions/whatever they’ve done – both positive and negative – and can use that to learn and to improve on what they have done. It’s not just limited to feedback from one teacher, or their classmates.

There are so many tools available for students to show off their creativity, their innovation, their brilliance – both online or through apps and other software. Many of these tools are free! Yes, teachers will need to learn about some of them, but perhaps once some carefully thought through transfer of skills has occurred, our students will firstly learn to find new tools that suit their needs, and some of our students will create tools that suit their needs for others to also use!

If schools and teachers do not allow technology into their classrooms, we’re going to remain stuck in an age that the rest of the world is well beyond.

I know there are many many things that teachers and students can do using these devices that I have not mentioned – enjoy discovering them! And yes – many schools are embracing technology in teaching and learning. I think you’ve taken an exciting and needed step. Will it take time, patience and effort? For sure! But I truly believe it will be worth it.

Technology in schools vs the media

This morning I saw this headline on NZ news site Stuff:


I clicked on it and the actual headline read:

iPods in classroom inspiring young minds


There was nothing in the article that was actually against iPod use in primary schools or even questioning it, so it intrigues me that Stuff would have the headline like this on their main page.

My guess here is that the media is trying to create some controversy from this headline.

In my view, if technology is being used to enhance teaching and learning and to engage students then why would we not want it to be used. It’s about schools and teachers picking appropriate technology for the situation and not simply using technology for technology’s sake.

Is technology leaving kids behind?

I have just read this post (Is education technology doomed?) on In it, it suggests that by pushing the barriers in education with using technology we may be leaving kids behind. Kids from families that cannot afford high-end computers/tablets/mobile phones and connections to the internet. In essence, this is true. These families are disadvantaged. However, I think, instead of seeing this as a problem that means educating kids in this way is not a good idea (I don’t believe that is what the post was saying, but it could be read into it), we need to look at ways to overcome this problem so that we can continue to bring our education systems/practices into the world of today.

A couple of years ago, I bought an old computer for about $12. This included the monitor, keyboard, mouse and CPU. It was definitely not a high-spec computer. It wouldn’t run the latest version of windows on it. It wasn’t fast and it didn’t have a large hard-disk. I installed Ubuntu Linux on it, and it ran like a dream. How much did Ubuntu cost? Nothing. What came with it? A stack of different programs to do pretty much anything you wanted! And I could download many more free programs.

Why am I writing about this? I’m wanting to get across the idea that perhaps schools need to re-evaluate what technology they use. No, not everyone can buy the latest computer with the most up-to-date software on it. But, I could do just as much on the computer that cost me $12 as I could on my $1000 desktop PC. The physical machine wasn’t as flash, but it worked, and worked well. If schools could consider these types of options (and I know this is happening already), then technology can become more accessible to those who cannot afford it.

As for the internet. Well, the cheapest dial-up plans I know of in New Zealand are about $10 a month. Not too difficult for most to scrape up. Yes, I know not everyone will be able to, but many can. I also no that dial-up is not great for watching videos etc online, however a lot of other things can be done. Remember also, that if you’ve never had the internet before, then dial-up is a lot faster than nothing! I spent many years on a dial-up connection quite happily. It’s hard to go back, but to move forward from no connection, dial-up is fine.

The cheapest broadband plan I know of in NZ is about $25 a month. Again, quite a few people will be able to find this in their budget.

So, my suggestion is that schools think about their clientele – their students and families. What can they access? What can they afford? Come up with a plan or strategy that will benefit those families where they are now. Perhaps you decide as a school to use open source (or free) software only. Perhaps you partner with computer firms to get good deals for your school and students? Perhaps you buy a few cheap computers with Linux installed and loan them to families?

Don’t give up on technology because not everyone has access. Work with your Board and community to find a way forward for all involved.