NZ post grad programme in digital learning for teachers to become nationwide

Frances Valintine, founder of The Mind Lab, states that if 15 per cent of NZ teachers are taught to implement digital learning, it can bring about transformative change in industry

The postgraduate programme in digital and collaborative learning run by The Mind Lab and Unitec has been growing in strength and is to be taken nationwide.

“We work directly alongside teachers to help them understand and adopt new contemporary teaching practices and build confidence with digital technologies. We offer a postgraduate part time programme in digital and collaborative learning for primary and secondary teachers that will teach more than 2000 teachers over the next couple of years," says Frances Valintine, founder of The Mind Lab

Valintine said there is currently 100 teachers undertaking the program, with a further 150 teachers starting in November. The Mind Lab program will roll out the program all across New Zealand over the next few years to provide access to all teachers looking to develop their skills.

“Over the next 5 plus years we hope 10,000 teachers will complete our postgraduate programme enabling change and progress to be driven by our teachers. If 15 per cent of NZ teachers are taught how to implement digital and collaborative learning in their classroom, transformational change will be shaped and informed from within our schools and our communities,” she adds.

In parallel, there has been steady growth in the number of students accessing the science and technology classes offered by the organisation, Valintine said.

“Everyday we have school groups attending class at The Mind Lab from Year 1 through to Year 13. There are greater numbers of primary and intermediate students due to the greater flexibility of the curriculum in the earlier years of education.

“While we have expansion plans underway to increase access to our programs in locations around the country, we are also encouraged to see other organisations and schools offering contemporary ‘make-a-space’ environments and new community-based opportunities."

Around 80 per cent of the teachers who participate in classes attend The Mind Lab as part of a school group. These teachers generally spend two to four hours focused on a specific area based upon the individual requirements of the class.

“These students each pay $6 per hour with a minimum of 10 students. Small group classes are also offered after hours and during the school holidays at a rate of between $15 to $35 dollars per hour depending on the number of hours booked,” says Valintine.

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She adds that she would love to see the subject areas and teaching methodologies used at The Mind Lab be adopted more widely.

“If in the future The Mind Lab is no longer needed because of wide adoption of new teaching methodologies in classrooms, I would be thrilled. I see The Mind Lab as serving an important and urgent education need that is critical to the immediate education environment firstly as a catalyst for progress and secondly as a tangible environment where education innovation can be evidenced.

“I would also like to see the idea of ICT as a standalone subject removed from education and much broader adoption of technology across all subject areas. Many countries have already embraced new subjects such as coding as a compulsory subject from the age of five, most recently in the UK.

“We don’t see education as a competitive product but rather a social enterprise driven by the universal goal of increasing student achievement and engagement that should be embraced by many,” says Valintine.

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