Digital Technologies in New Zealand Secondary Schools - a Case Study of an Auckland School
One of the most rapid and far-reaching developments in contemporary secondary schools in New Zealand is the adoption of recent curriculum innovations in the application of digital technologies across curriculum areas. Building on the New Zealand government’s 2014 report, Future-focused learning in connected communities, came the revamping of Technology Learning Areas in 2017, along with the Digital Visual Literacies recommendations to be adopted across all learning areas. In light of these specific and far-reaching shifts in educational focus and delivery, this Master of Philosophy research investigates the extent to which secondary schools in New Zealand understand these changes, and are prepared for their introduction. Commensurate with the scope of Master’s level undertakings, the research develops a ‘snapshot’ understanding, in the context of one Auckland low-decile secondary school, of how digital technologies are currently deployed across subject areas.
The thesis comprises six chapters, including an Introduction that establishes the research aims, and a Conclusion that reiterates the research journey and emphasises outcomes. Chapter Two engages literature relevant to the research field, placing particular emphasis on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) literature on digital technology developments in secondary education within international contexts. When we look at the New Zealand Ministry of Education (MOE) literature on twenty-first century learning, on new facilities design, and on digital literacies, it is clear the extent of influence of OECD policies on New Zealand education. Further literature includes international and national researchers in the educational field engaging questions of innovations in curricula, driven by digital technological change. Chapter Three engages with the thesis methodology. Within an interpretative phenomenological, qualitative approach, the research undertakes participant interviews of five secondary school educators from one Auckland school. The participants comprise four subject heads and a deputy-principal. Chapter Four presents the findings from the participant interviews. Interview data was coded and themed, with the aim of determining where themes have convergences and divergences, thereby defining, within terms developed from participant responses, how this case-study school is currently managing digital technology curriculum innovations.
Chapter Five comprises the discussion chapter, where findings from the empirical research are brought into conversation with understanding developed from the literature search. My research discussion finds there are clear gaps between understandings, expectations and readiness on the part of experienced secondary teachers, and current perspectives offered by the MOE or OECD. The thesis makes suggestions concerning how to address more directly secondary teacher needs. It also recognises that a larger study is required, with a broader range of schools, to consolidate the genuine needs that educators are facing with rapidly changing learning environments, driven by digital technology innovations.