Taitokerau Education Trust has come together with supporting agencies to roll out the Digital Immersion Programme in schools around Northland.
The Digital Immersion Programme allows students from lower-income households to benefit from equal access to online learning through making accessible personal-use digital devices. These devices will be in the care of the student while learning in the classroom, and will remain in their care within their own homes. The student will have the ability to study after school hours, and will have access to online tuition from qualified educators while studying at home.
The intention with this programme is to raise student achievement levels through increasing student engagement, and developing a set of independent learning skills that are relevant in today’s environment.
The Taitokerau Digital Immersion Programme is based on the highly successful Auckland-based Manaiakalani System, which has shown large achievement gains in the students involved during a period of more than 11 years. The ability for these students to be actively engaged with their learning using a personal digital device has empowered them, offering a sense of ownership: ownership of their device, ownership of their learning pace, ownership of their learning pathways and ultimately, ownership of their futures. A secondary outcome, but one that is equally as important in this process, is the engagement of whanau and educators in the student learning journey.
Students, Whanau, Educators: the three-pronged approach
The Digital Immersion Programme presents a three-pronged approach to successful e-learning, engaging not only the students themselves, but their core learning networks: their whanau and their educators.
The foundations for success with this programme lie in the students, the whanau, and the educators coming together to participate, collaborate and engage fully with the curriculum. A key directive of the Taitokerau Digital Immersion Programme is the acknowledgment that a student’s learning environment shapes their ability – this is why the whanau and the educators are involved from the very beginning.
The student must take full responsibility for the care of his or her own personal device: this is an integral part of the Digital Immersion Programme. With the burden of care comes a level of responsibility which increases the personal engagement of the student with this programme. These devices are theirs, just as the learning pathways are theirs, and the outcomes are theirs – the Digital Immersion Programme offers a unique level of control to these students, who are now able to interact with their learning world in a whole new way. Students must receive support and encouragement from their educators and their whanau, which is why the Digital Immersion Programme places an emphasis on both whanau and educator support networks.
This programme relies heavily on the student’s whanau engaging with the digital learning pedagogy. Our Whanau Support Coordinator offers information workshops to the whanau of involved students, covering areas such as the Tikanga of Care, staying safe online with the cybersmart safety net, caring for the device, correct use of the device, and the whanau responsibility of engagement with the student’s learning.
The Taitokerau Digital Immersion Programme recognises the importance of ensuring the educators involved in the programme are fully trained in and supported with the digital learning environment. The e-learning curriculum is unique, and teacher support is essential for this programme to achieve full effect. Educators will be given training through ongoing collaborative workshops and support networks, both online and in a physical location. All online educators will achieve certification specifically for this role, and will continue to upskill throughout the e-learning curriculum.