Skip to main content

The #gigatown phoenix

It was devastating to miss out on winning the Gigatown competition by 0.2%, especially as this was due to a social media element which Gisborne was completely disadvantaged in due to our smaller population compared to Dunedin (the overall winner).  It was even more frustrating to hear that our 'plan for success' was a clear winner with all judges agreeing that it was the strongest proposal.  I believe the investment that Chorus and many other companies would have put into our region had the potential for the most radical transformation out of all of the final contenders.

The discussions that arose from all the hard work that so many people in the Gisborne community invested in have recently come back into the limelight as a steering group has been formed to action many of the ideas proposed in our original plan, this is extremely exciting as the momentum that was built around the competition bought together large groups of people from different sectors that would not have usually worked together.  Here are my original thoughts around how the 'gig' would have benefitted education in Gisborne, I must also relay many thanks to the amazing and thoughtful Maurice Alford who worked on reducing it to the stipulated word count and had brilliant insight into how many of the ideas overlapped and supported each other...  To have a look at the final plan follow this link.

Education plays a key role in our plan for our future. Well before the Gigatown competition began, the Eastland Community Trust commissioned research to identify ways in which to improve our local education scene and establish a pathway towards making Gisborne a Learning City.  There is a clear recognition that investing in strengthening education in our community will produce the best medium and long-term results for our local economy, social cohesiveness, and general quality of life for all our citizens and enable confident, connected, actively involved life-long learners.

We recognise that technology alone cannot produce the changes required, because our goal is to enable sustainable transformation in Tairawhiti, taking advantage of the rich cultural diversity in our region and  enabling a more inclusive approach for all learners.  Gigabit services will contribute to improving  education in our communities by:

●      enabling more equitable online access;
●      allowing us to more actively promote digital literacy and digital citizenship;
●      allowing schools to better share inclusive culturally-responsive approaches;
●      promoting modern learning practices;
●      encouraging the development of modern learning environments; and
●      enhancing collaborative, connected learning communities.

Equitable Access

To strengthen and extend learning in Tairāwhiti and to make the most of the gigabit services we must provide equitable access for the whole community, consistent with an ethic of caring (manaakitanga). There will be subsidised device costs for learners, as well as regional wifi access.  ‘Gig-up-your-home’ will apply what has been learned from the Manaiakalani initiative to ensure every Gisborne home can access gigabit internet and has the hardware to use the services.  Since half of our schools are rated as decile 1-3, the GigConnect team has the goal of providing affordable access and training for 1000 families in Deprivation 9 & 10 meshblocks to enable greater participation in digital learning.
The Manaiakalani Trust and its partners are keen to provide Gisborne schools with research and resources to encourage the professional development of teachers in a mutually beneficial reciprocal learning relationship with the Tamaki/Pt England communities and schools.

The rollout of N4L and Pond will also support our schools by providing a fast and filtered portal to managed online services, reducing technical support costs through integrated infrastructure. Gigabit connectivity will also allow us to develop better connectedness between our schools and local providers, enhancing such activities as our city library providing e-book access.

Digital Literacy

Communities need access to physical devices, but they also need to know how to use these tools to their greatest advantage.   Work will continue with the TaiTech Trust offering Computers-in-Homes, ICDL and Cisco Academy courses, extended by REAP Tairāwhiti, Literacy Aotearoa, the HB Williams Memorial Library, as well as our tertiary education providers: EIT Tairāwhiti, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa — Whirikoka, and Turanga Ararau. Digital literacy programmes will cater for pre-schoolers to pensioners, from basic skills and surface understandings to higher-level.

A fundamental element of digital literacy is digital citizenship, expressed in Māori by aroha (love in the broadest sense, including mutuality), awhi (helpfulness), manaaki (hospitality), and tiaki (guidance). These values underpin all our GigEducation projects.  By becoming more being digitally adept, our people can better participate in society as well as celebrate and share our traditions, knowledge and tikanga (customs) with the rest of the country while we motivate learners with the support of global partners.

Inclusive culturally responsive learning experiences
Gigabit connectedness will enable our students to have access to richer, more authentic, collaborative learning experiences with students in other schools worldwide. Teachers will be able to use a greater variety of ways to connect our learners with opportunities such as telepresence that are made possible by Gigconnect.

Greater connectedness will remove some of the obstacles to equity and inclusion, allowing teachers to be more reflexive and focused on the learner rather than the content or access issues, programmes that are developed around individual learner needs and abilities resulting in improvements with student achievement.

Modern Learning Practices 

Educators and other adults supporting young people need to learn how to focus on future‐oriented learning, maximising the opportunities of gigabit connectivity.
Rangatiratanga (teacher effectiveness) will be strengthened by a consolidated, community-wide approach to providing professional learning.  GigEducation will work with Mindlab (Unitec) to help our teachers understand how traditional practices are challenged by new technologies and how to adapt. Teachers who attend Mindlab will have opportunities to synthesise their learning by presenting at events such as the Tairāwhiti TeachExpo.  This cycle of learning and sharing will become an integral part of professional development and will showcase the progress we are making.

In 2015 MindLab will establish its first regional hub using gigabit technology.
MindLab integrates technology and new teaching approaches into classrooms and creates a learning environment to contextualise education in a 21st century setting with an innovative approach to learning, inspiring students in creativity, science and technology - teachers participate in a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (digital and collaborative learning).
Mindlab have agreed to invest $150k, providing the computers and programmes.  and the ECT will fund the GigShed fit out.

Modern Learning Environments

To embed transformational pedagogy and enhance modern learning practices we will continue to develop flexible, well resourced, collaborative state‐of‐the-art facilities.  Community hubs, including the GigaShed, MindLab, the HB Williams Memorial Library and MakerSpaces will support learners of all ages beyond the traditional hours of schooling.
Mindlab will provide after-school and holiday programmes targeting 4 – 14 year-olds, fostering their interest in digital learning, ECT will subsidise the hourly rate for attendance, making it affordable and accessible to all.  MindLab will also work with the Mozilla Hive Learning Centre: a collaborative global education network. Investing in new education spaces will complement the facilities currently available.
The GigaShed will provide education opportunities with incubator access to social enterprise projects in partnership with the Ākina Foundation.  Aspiring entrepreneurs wishing to develop projects will find guidance, support, and resources through this programme, supported by fast access to open networked communities elsewhere.

Connected communities of learners

Although education is often characterised by competition rather than collaboration,  significant events such as the 2012 & 2013 TechXpos and the 2015 TeachXpo are based on a collaborative ethos instead. Many new partnerships are being created and fostered. GigEd would help maximise the ways to collaborate by using community hubs to allow both face-to-face learning experiences and participation in virtual networks. With better connectedness, parents, caregivers, families and whanau can participate more as partners in their children’s learning.

Connected communities of teachers will also be celebrated, sharing successes, resources and pedagogical approaches that work with our learners in Tairāwhiti across all sectors.  Shared language, understandings and experiences will better connect our teachers and tutors with current education research findings.  Collaborative partnerships with other sectors will promote not only authentic learning opportunities, but also challenge the dynamics of separateness.

What role could research institutes, polytechnics or universities play in the success of your plan?

GigEducation and GigBusiness will work with tertiary providers to develop programmes that will thrive in the economic and social landscape of Gisborne. Many of the projects outlined in the Plan for Gig Success integrate with tertiary providers such as Unitec and EIT, the partnerships with organisations and tertiary education enhance the diversity of educational approaches, and build on the skills, knowledge and expertise that is already present in the region.  Gigabit services will enable them to facilitate these programmes without needing to have a physical presence in Gisborne.

Agri-innovate will coordinate with the Food Innovation Network, Massey University and Lincoln University, to establish a Gisborne campus to accelerate research and development in the agri-business industry, thereby creating strong business networks, a world-leading agriculture innovation hub and strong employment links and career development for specialists.

GigEducation will work with tertiary providers and research institutes in applied learning environments to provide students with practical experience and employment opportunities, while addressing areas of skills shortage in specific sectors in Gisborne.  In this context schools are part of a network of provision within the community.The linking between these agencies will provide a ‘seamless’ learning experience for students.

The GigEducation plan has its roots in tikanga Maori and supports notions of whakawhanaungatanga (the process of establishing relationships of connectedness), manaakitanga (showing respect and care for others), tino rangatiratanga (being responsible and taking care of managing our local affairs), and kotahitanga (working together). Our educators recognise that learners have been shaped by their prior experiences — the basis on which further learning is to be built. This is why traditions are valued.

Our goal is local education that is more morally, socially and economically aware, that enables our communities to prosper in the post-industrial world. Winning the Gigatown competition will be a catalyst for some truly transformational approaches that will have a wide range of positive effects on the Tairawhiti region.  Gaining the Gig would enable us to be better connected — to each other, to our past, and to our future with the rest of the world. We have the passion, the ideas, the people — we only need the technology.


Popular posts from this blog

How to collaborate with ChatGPT in the research process and actually learn something

If you have used chatGPT before, it can sometimes feel like talking with someone who has done too much of their 'research on Facebook', filling in gaps with random facts marginally related to the topic just so they can respond and keep the conversation going. However, if applied or 'prompted' correctly, with the user utterly aware of the limitations and ethical considerations, chatGPT can be a helpful research assistant. There is already a wide range of tools available that are built on chatGPT that can support many of the things described below; however, I am still a bit hesitant to rush in with most of them being 'freemium' or asking you to upload your own research and other details or data into their database, I'm happy to stick with the open version of chatGPT as it is what our students have access to. Image created with AI The following guide highlights some prompts, some follow-up questions and most importantly, what you need to do next to follow up a

Motivation and homework follow up...

Last week I wrote about setting a homework challenge to learn muscles of the body as an online game - the students then had to post screen grabs on google+ to show they had done it and to be in contention for the hallowed prize of 'King of the Muscles' and a cafe voucher. I wasn't quite sure how it was going to go, but by Thursday the buzz in all my senior classes was about ' poke-a-muscle '.  The boys were so excited about it they'd post a score, and then find out that someone had beaten them, and then rush out of the class at interval to get to a computer and beat the top score.  I even had an email on Saturday (two days after the due date) from two boys who had been practicing and spent the afternoon working together to try and beat the original high scores they had submitted with the homework!!!

Group email parents with Kamar and Gmail

After # EdChatNZ on Thursday night I was really determined to make digital contact with parents and share with them the great work their sons were doing!  At our school we use Kamar to collect absences, store student data and report back to parents.  It has a handy function where you can click on a student and email the parents directly, but I wanted to email all the parents of classes at once.  After a bit of playing around I managed to find a way to do it, here's what I did!!! 1) In Kamar select 'Printing' then select 'Export'  This will save the file so you can copy the addresses into gmail, rather than printing it out. 2) Now you need to select your class - as I wanted to email one class at a time I need to select a single class, but you have to option to select multiple groups.  Click on 'Option Subject' and then type your teacher code into the box.  Your classes should all appear and then when you select the class it will copy into the bo