The Taitokerau Digital Immersion Program has proven to be hugely successful from both the student and whanau perspective, and the online educator perspective. A recent survey of the program, conducted in 2016, highlighted specific areas of success and identified areas where further studies would be beneficial, allowing us to continue to grow and improve upon the existing framework. This article provides a snapshot of what we discovered from the information gathered through the Digital Learning Program Survey of 2016.
The schools involved in this survey were:
- Manaia View School: Roll 217 – 93% Maori
- Hikurangi Primary School: Roll 221 – 61% Maori
- Whau Valley Primary School : Roll 257- 73% Maori
- Te Kura O Otangarei: Roll 100 – 92% Maori
- Whangarei Intermediate Roll 610 – 48% Maori
- Tikipunga High School Roll 320 – 82% Maori
A total of 23 teachers were directly involved with the Digital Immersion Training, showing an increase of 91.67% from 2015-16, while a total of 50 non-targeted staff undertook training through a facilitator, showing an increase of 233.33% from 2015-16.
Teachers involved in this survey indicated that there were constant shifts in the pedagogy and practical knowledge, in keeping with the constantly developing digital world. They also felt that their students were more engaged, and that they were able to get more specific with their planning, while they were able to provide more instantaneous feedback, which benefited their students.
Teachers believed that their students were able to get onto tasks faster, with less distraction, and that the availability of online apps allowed their students to further their knowledge at their own pace, with the tools best suited to their style of learning. There was a general feeling that their students were more engaged and motivated than in a traditional classroom.
The teachers surveyed were asked to report on any challenges encountered, with many teachers responding that the practical task of upskilling caused some issues, while others responded that understanding the technical aspects of the eLearning environment took a lot of time. There were comments on student password retention, options for buying full versions of programmes, and a lack of devices for the amount of students. Teachers also reported on difficulties adjusting to the eLearning environment, in particular keeping students on-task, being contactable by parents 24/7, and keeping abreast of latest online trends, tools and applications.
190 students participated in this online survey, of these students, 50.5% had started at the beginning of the year, and 49.5% had the digital learning experience during the year before.
Approximate number of students in the Digital Immersion Classes: 575. This shows an increase of 91.67% from 2015-16.
- 93.2% of the students believed that they were learning a lot more than previously.
- 94.2% of the students surveyed loved being in a digital class, and would not want to learn any other way.
- 68.4% of the students surveyed felt confident enough in their work to provide a link to share their projects
The students who partook in our survey reported feeling an increased ease in learning, which came from their ability to access the curriculum, and their ability to achieve a higher standard of presentation. They were also appreciative of their ability to take their devices home, giving them the ability to complete tasks at their own pace in their own environments, asking their teacher for assistance without the fear of teasing from other students. Students reported an increased preference for the subject of writing due to their ability to type rather than handwrite, while also having the option to research using online searches rather than reference books.
Students did not report any negative experiences or challenges with their online learning experiences, consistently discussing positive outcomes.