Stu­dents’ learn­ing takes off

Te Puke Times - - NEWS - By ZOE HUNTER

Te Puke High School stu­dents have im­pressed Google’s Aus­tralia and New Zealand head of ed­u­ca­tion Suan Yeo with how they use drones and vir­tual re­al­ity in the class­room.

Yeo flew across the ditch last week to see how Te Puke High School in­te­grates tech­nol­ogy into its “au­then­tic” learn­ing cur­ricu­lum.

Head of sci­ence and act­ing deputy prin­ci­pal Matthew Park re­jigged the ju­nior school cur­ricu­lum in 2015 to al­low Years 9 and 10 stu­dents to en­gage in learn­ing with­out assess­ment.

“Kids were do­ing things they wouldn’t nor­mally do,” he said.

But Park, who has a mas­ters in ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship, said all cre­ativ­ity was lost when the ju­nior stu­dents were fun­nelled down the NCEA sys­tem.

So prin­ci­pal Alan Lid­dle sup­ported a Steam (Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, Art and Maths) sys­tem for se­nior stu­dents with an in­ter­est in drones and vir­tual re­al­ity, where stu­dents could earn credit to­wards their NCEA.

“It is more about the learn­ing, about con­nect­ing to the world around them . . . so the kids are ac­tu­ally en­gag­ing with the em­ploy­ers and ter­tiary providers,” Park said.

He said stu­dents had since had meet­ings with Trevelyan’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor James Trevelyan to see if drones could be used in the ki­wifruit in­dus­try.

“I think it is key for that au­then­tic learn­ing for kids, con­nect­ing them with what’s go­ing on, what’s go­ing to be needed and with in­dus­try connections,” Park said.

The school’s ITC man­ager, Ar­mand de Vil­liers, said the Steam cur­ricu­lum was not funded by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, so the prin­ci­pal’s sup­port had been key.

Yeo said tech­nol­ogy en­hanced what hap­pened in­side a class­room, but it was just a tool.

“It be­comes mag­i­cal when ed­u­ca­tion is not in­volved in tech­nol­ogy but more about learn­ing and the process and the jour­ney to get you there,” he said.

“When you can in­volve the com­mu­nity, lo­cal busi­nesses around the area I think that is when it truly tran­scends what hap­pens al­ready in a class­room.”

Yeo said the role of ed­u­ca­tion was to pre­pare chil­dren for their fu­ture. “And ev­ery kid’s fu­ture looks dif­fer­ent,” he said. “The more you can per­son­alise learn­ing, that is the Holy Grail of ed­u­ca­tion.”

Blair Beech­ing, 16, learned how to fly a drone in Year 9 and had since gained his drone li­cence.

The Te Puke High School stu­dent used the school drones to cre­ate a three-di­men­sional map of the school. He also filmed rugby and foot­ball matches on week­ends, as well as school ath­let­ics days.

“For me, it leaves me with an­other ca­reer op­por­tu­nity,” Beech­ing said.

“I just like that it gives you a new way to look at things.

“When you’re on the ground you can’t re­ally see much but if you’re up in the air you get this whole new per­spec­tive.”


James de Lange, 16, and Blair Beech­ing, 16, show off their drones to Google’s head of ed­u­ca­tion Suan Yeo.

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