The term educational technology (EdTech) is used in several government documents, including the 2020 Digital and Data for Learning Brief. Many government documents use the term information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as the 2022 Digital Strategy for Aotearoa.
The 2022 Digital Strategy for Aotearoa defines ‘digital’ as a varied ecosystem, which includes computer hardware and software; infrastructure and data; applications and uses of hardware, software and data; rules and policies governing digital technologies and their applications; and the wider socio-economic systems that digital technologies sit within.
The 2020 Education and Training Act defines a distance school as a “school for the time being designated under section 196 as a distance school”. According to Section 196, the Minister of Education may, when establishing a school, or at any other time, designate a state school that is not a state integrated school as a distance school. According to the Ministry of Education’s e-Learning website (Enabling e-Learning), e-Learning is defined as “learning and teaching that is facilitated by or supported through the appropriate use of information and communication technologies (ICTs)”. e-Learning can cover a spectrum of activities from supporting learning to blended learning (the combination of traditional and e-learning practices), to learning that is delivered entirely online.
Constitution and laws: The 2020 Education and Training Act includes provisions for distance schools which “may deliver education through any medium, including digital technology” (Article 196). The Act additionally contains provisions that are directly relevant to how schools should manage an incident involving digital technology when it is involved in an incident, which are based on the Guidelines for the Surrender and Retention of Property and Searches and accompanying rules that the Secretary for Education released in 2014. The legislation provides teachers and authorised staff with certain powers when they have reasonable grounds to believe that: a student has digital information stored on their digital device or other digital technology that Is endangering the emotional or physical safety of other students, or detrimentally affecting the learning environment (Article 106).
New Zealand’s 1852 Constitution (as amended in 2014) does not include any provisions on education technology. The 2001 Telecommunications Act regulates telecommunications services in New Zealand, which includes universal access to basic telecommunications services for all.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2015-20 Education System Digital Strategy (under revision) provided the framework for the integration of digital technology in New Zealand’s education system. The aims of the Strategy were to: 1) create a connected, secure student-centred online ecosystem; 2) provide equitable access to high-quality educational opportunities for learners and ākonga of all ages (irrespective of their location or learning needs); 3) improve the use, quality, security and accessibility of learner data; and 4) reduce burdensome administrative tasks.
Connected Ako: Digital and Data for Learning is a 10 year strategy releaded in June 2023 by the government education agencies to guide the digital and data direction of their work. The strategy draws on the government's 2022 Digital Strategy for Aotearoa and associated work to explore the opportunities and challenges for the education sector. The vision of the digital and data strategy is threefold:
- Learners and educators can thrive - live, learn and work - in the digital world
- People are digital and data capable, contributing to personal, community and New Zealand's growth
- Learning teaching assessment and research make best use of data and digital
The strategy is built on three foundations:
- Te Tiriti - giving effect to the Treaty of Waitangi anchors the strategy to benefit all New Zealanders
- Equity - trusted digital and data services can help all learners, whanau, educators and providers to flourish
- Agencies working together - by identifying long term aims and outcomes, education agencies can help educators, learners and providers reap the benefits digital and data
There are three key areas of focus (te aronui): connection, commitment and capability and six important areas of work (mahi) with associated actions.
- Te Ao Maori in digital design
- Engaging widely and effectively
- Using data to make a difference
- Future focused leadership
- Safe and effective digital leadership
- Transformed learning, teaching, assessment and research
The 2022 Digital Strategy for Aotearoa is underpinned by a strong focus on skills and education, sustainability, and digital infrastructure.
The 2021 Digital Skills for our Digital Future report was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment with NZTech, to help inform the direction of the skills workstream within the Government’s Digital Technology Industry Transformation Plan. It promotes the upskilling of digital skills throughout New Zealand, including digital technology to students, parents and whanau; increased investment in educators confidence and upskilling; and development of clearer pathways into digital roles.
The 2020 Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities supports the implementation of the digital technologies/hangarau matihiko curriculum.
The 2021-26 Ministry of Education’s Statement of Intent aims to improve digital access to help reduce the digital divide in schools.
The 2020-30 Action Plan for Pacific Education supports the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Digital competency frameworks: The 2018 Teacher standards include e-learning standards and competencies, while the digital technologies learning area includes digital competencies, learning pathways, achievement objectives, and progress outcomes for each level, with technological knowledge expected for each level. The indicators of progression, which define the learning objectives at each level of the curriculum, also include digital competencies expected at each level.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The 2020 Education and Training Act includes directions relating to COVID-19 (Schedule 25), giving the Secretary of Education power to direct education entities in relation to COVID-19 measures to provide education or instruction in any specified ways (for example, through distance or online learning) (Schedule 25: Article 3).
The 2020 Digital and Data for Learning Brief aims to “build on the momentum gained during COVID-19” and shift to digital to create a resilient education system and broaden educational opportunities for learners of all ages in both face-to-face and virtual learning settings. As part of this objective, the government supports the revision of the Education System Digital Strategy, and expanding its scope to address barriers to access, build a trusted data ecosystem, and promote digital innovation. As stated in the brief, “we have the potential to leverage what we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to make blended and distance learning an integral part of our education system”.
The 2022-30 New Zealand International Education Strategy further supports sustainable, resilient education provision and strengthening the information technology sector.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The regulation, supply and use of electricity in New Zealand is governed by the 1992 Electricity Act, although there is no explicit mention of schools. All electrical work in schools must comply with the Ministry of Education’s electrical installation standard and the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules. The 2015 Electrical Installations: Standards for Schools aim to ensure schools’ electrical infrastructure meets minimum standards for safety, design, installation and maintenance support. School compliance with these standards, the 2010 Electrical (Safety) Regulations and relevant New Zealand Codes of Practice is a mandatory requirement. All electrical work in schools must comply with standards in installation of new electrical infrastructure, alterations of existing electrical infrastructure, and repair or maintenance of existing electrical infrastructure.
The 2030 School Property Strategy (Te Rautaki Rawa Kura) further includes guidelines for energy consumption in schools, while the Ministry of Education has been improving the lighting and energy efficiency of up to 600 small or remote state schools, which includes reducing their daily operating costs, e.g. electricity usage. The programme is part of the Government’s wider target of all schools having quality learning environments by 2030. State schools receive operational funding by the Ministry to pay for electricity.
Computers and devices: The 2015-20 Education System Digital Strategy aimed to address the digital divide by providing devices to schools for learners who do not own a device. The 2021-26 Ministry of Education’s Statement of Intent similarly aims to provide children and young people with devices in schools to “help reduce the digital divide”. The burden on schools aims to be reduced though the delivery of a managed, safe, and secure ICT network, in addition to laptop and software leasing programmes. The Ministry also funds software for state and state-integrated schools and kura, negotiates for special education pricing, and took additional steps to provide schools with devices during COVID-19.
Schools can choose to fund devices, ask that students bring their own device (BYOD) to school or do a mixture of both. The Ministry does not allow schools to use operational funding to subsidise the cost of devices that students will keep. All New Zealand Schools are eligible to join the All of Government purchasing scheme. Schools are encouraged to consider the AoG scheme because suppliers are contractually obliged to ensure that their products are not available at a cheaper price through any other channel.
Some schools ask students to bring their own digital devices (BYOD). The two options are: parents/students purchase a device specified from a school list or to meet school specifications or students bring a device of their choice. The Circular 2018/01 – Payments by parents of students in schools advises on the rights of parents, students, boards of trustees, proprietors, and sponsors about requests for donations and other forms of payment in schools. Schools adopt BYOD schemes to increase the digital technology available for student use at school. Typically BYOD ownership models involve devices being either purchased by parents and whānau, leased to parents and whānau through a master lease agreement held by the school, or directly leased by parents and whānau. In all cases, the devices are either the property of the student or the leasing company, not the school. According to the 2020 Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities, the government supports reducing non-fee costs, including costs associated with BYOD policies, taking advantage of policies to reduce financial dependence on families and whānau.
The 2022 Literacy & Communication and Maths Action Plans additionally aims to advise whānau, schools, and early learning settings on digital technology (targeted) and assistive technologies (individual) provisions to support literacy & communication learning.
The New Zealand Government Procurement website provides guidelines on the procurement and leasing of digital devices, ICT equipment and assistive technology for schools or kura. The Ministry of Education also has a dedicated page on the procurement of good and services for schools.
TELA+ is a digital device leasing scheme for eligible teaching staff in state and state integrated schools. All permanent full-time and part-time teachers in state and integrated schools can lease selected digital devices for a three-year period. The range of devices includes laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks. The Ministry pays up to two-thirds of the cost and teachers or schools cover the remaining third.
Internet connectivity: Schools or kura can either use the government-funded Network for Learning (N4L) broadband connection service that is tailored for state and state-integrated schools or choose to pay for a different retail service provider (RSP). In the latter case, it is each school’s responsibility to ensure its network is protected against risks such as hacking, spam and access to inappropriate content. Te Mana Tūhono (the power of connectivity) is the government’s long-term programme to support schools monitor, maintain and manage their networks. In September 2020, the Government announced a $49 million expansion of the Te Mana Tūhono programme, allowing the Ministry to offer all state and state-integrated schools the opportunity to upgrade their ICT network equipment and access cybersecurity support by 2024. Schools can also seek out a potential fit within the Ministry’s Equitable Digital Access for Students (EDA4S) initiative, which is aimed at giving more students access to the internet at home.
As part of the 2015-20 Education System Digital Strategy, education agencies have been implementing Te Mana Tūhono through the Network for Learning, which includes connecting school classrooms to next-generation WiFi (WiFi-6) to support more devices on the schools’ network, bandwidth-demanding apps like video, and online programs. The Ministry has also connected various households to the internet as part of the strategy and its COVID-19 response. The provision of internet connectivity to children and young people is also one of the focus areas of the 2021-26 Ministry of Education’s Statement of Intent.
Schools, often in rural and remote areas, can choose to leverage their ICT infrastructure to become a ‘digital hub’ for their community.
Universal service obligations are included in the Telecommunications Services Obligations regulatory framework, which was introduced by the 2001 Telecommunications Act. The Act provides for universal access to basic telecommunications services, which include internet access services. The Remote Users Scheme (within the $60 million rural connectivity package) aims to equip households, Kiwis in particular, with infrastructure allowing broadband connectivity. The Rural Broadband connectivity (phased 2) initiative has enhanced connectivity for over 75,000 rural homes and businesses and 591 marae. The Government has allocated $150 million to be invested in improving broadband and mobile coverage in rural and remote areas, with the aim to enhance broadband availability to approximately 99.8% of the population.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
Virtual learning has been taking place in New Zealand schools since the early 1990s, with an even longer history of using correspondence courses and radio during the 1948 emergency polio epidemic.
According to the Ministry of Education’s e-Learning website, e-learning (i.e. learning supported by or facilitated by ICT) has considerable potential to support teacher actions promoting student learning. It can assist the making of connections by enabling students to enter and explore new learning environments, overcoming barriers of distance and time; facilitate shared learning by enabling students to join or create communities of learners that extend well beyond the classroom; assist in the creation of supportive learning environments by offering resources that take account of individual, cultural, or developmental differences; and enhance opportunities to learn by offering students virtual experiences and tools that save them time, allowing them to take their learning further. Schools are expected to explore how ICT can supplement traditional ways of teaching but also how it can open up new and different ways of learning.
The e-Learning Planning Framework (eLPF) and Māori-medium eLPF are tools to help schools and teachers reflect on, and evaluate, their e-learning capability. The phases describe development in technology integration and pedagogical development, from teacher-directed to collaborative, co-constructed learning, which have been aligned with a number of international frameworks. The framework provides schools and teachers with a self-review tool for schools to gather evidence about practice; processes and practices for building e-learning capability; a tool to evaluate the effectiveness of e-learning programmes; and resources and services to support schools as they build capability.
The 2020 Education and Training Act includes provisions for distance schools which may deliver education through “any medium, including digital technology” (Article 196). The 2020 Digital and Data for Learning Brief supports making blended and distance learning an integral part of the education system through a strong pedagogical framework to guide best practices in a flexible/online learning environment.
During the COVID-19 school closures, the Ministry of Education provided distance-learning resources to be accessible to all students in New Zealand, including educational television, online learning platforms, computers, and packs of printed learning material. The Minister of Education additionally announced a long-term recovery plan for the international education sector, which included a $51.6 million investment from the COVID-19 recovery and response fund to help reset New Zealand’s international education sector. The Plan consisted of three concurrent workstreams that focus on stabilising the international education sector, strengthening the system, and accelerating the transformation of the sector as signalled in the 2018 International Education Strategy. The Ministry of Education strongly recommends that education providers prepare a pandemic plan, expecting early learning services, schools and tertiary organisations to develop their own pandemic plans to protect students and staff during a possible pandemic.
The 2022 Literacy & Communication and Maths Strategy takes a wider view of literacy to actively include digital literacy alongside reading and writing. The strategy actively recognises the importance of digital literacy, which is defined as “the ability to effectively and critically interpret, manage, and create meaning through a range of evolving digital communication channels”. This includes the operational skills to retrieve and understand information on the internet, and create and share quality content online. One of the strategy’s focus areas aims to refresh literacy learning in the New Zealand Curriculum, including strengthening communication and digital literacy, which is further highlighted in the 2022 Literacy & Communication and Maths Action Plans. Similarly, in the 2020 Digital and Data for Learning Brief, digital literacy is recognized as a necessary foundational skill for success in life, learning and work, alongside literacy and numeracy.
The technology learning area was revised and all schools were expected to fully integrate it into their curriculum by the start of the 2020 school year. This included the mandatory teaching of digital technologies (Hangarau Matihiko), to ensure that “all learners have the opportunity to become digitally capable individuals”. There is a greater focus on students building skills to be innovative creators of digital solutions, moving beyond simply being users and consumers of digital technologies. The 2018 Revised Technology Learning Area has three strands: Technological Practice, Technological Knowledge, and Nature of Technology. These three strands are embedded within each of five technological areas: computational thinking for digital technologies; designing and developing digital, materials and processed outcomes; and design and visual communication. The digital technologies learning area includes digital competencies, learning pathways, achievement objectives, and progress outcomes for each level, with technological knowledge expected for each level. The indicators of progression, which define the learning objectives at each level of the curriculum, also include eight components within the technology curriculum (at levels 1-8) and learning objectives for the specialist areas of technology (at levels 6-8). The Digital technologies implementation support tool supports schools with teaching the revised technology learning area, while the 2017 Technology Curriculum Guide (Teaching and Learning Guide for Digital Technologies) guides the teaching and learning of technology in the curriculum. The technology learning area is currently being revised as part of the refresh of the New Zealand Curriculum. It will be released in 2024 and will be required to be taught from the beginning of 2027.
The 2022 Digital Strategy for Aotearoa additionally supports the provision of digital learning as part of the national education curriculum, stating that digital technology should be integrated into learning across the curriculum to support youth become digital leaders.
The 2022–23 Action Plan for the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa supports digital technology standards in secondary school, and science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) subjects in tertiary education. The action plan additionally aims to launch a cyber security skills programme for intermediate and secondary schools. The Ministry of Education strongly supports STEAM education as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking, with various resources designed to help teachers establish and strengthen STEM programs. The increase of womens’ participation in STEM education and training has also been a government policy priority.
The 2019 Digital Inclusion Blueprint identifies groups in the education system who could benefit from increased digital skills, including students without access to digital technologies in their homes; teachers without access to professional learning and development for teaching with digital technologies; school leavers without a digital technology qualification; and tertiary students without the advanced digital skills required for study.
The Pre-Service Technology Education Framework provides the foundational elements for pre-service technology teacher education in New Zealand, as well as a framework for ongoing technology teacher education. The framework consists of four key elements considered foundational to technology teacher education programmes: Philosophy of Technology; Rationale for Technology; Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum; and Teaching Technology. The 2018 Teacher standards, which include e-learning standards and competencies, are applicable for every teacher who holds a Practising Certificate, regardless of role or teaching context. All teachers, schools, kura, and centres must use the new Standards for appraisal.
The 2020 Digital and Data for Learning Brief aims to build teacher competence to incorporate digital technologies into their teaching practices. This requires teachers to have pedagogical and curriculum design and delivery skills specific to online learning; well-designed curriculum resources; and a trusted, safe and secure digital learning environment. The brief additionally aims to review the initial teaching education program to ensure it is appropriately preparing teachers to deliver teaching remotely. According to the 2020 Education and Training Act, one of the main functions of the Teaching Council is to foster the education profession’s continued development in light of research and evidence of changes in society and technology (Article 479).
Between 2018-2020, there were supports available to help teachers and kaiako implement technology into their teaching and learning programmes. These included Digital Fluency and the Nationwide Digital Readiness programme. Digital Fluency is a national Professional Learning and Development priority and is designed to enable teachers and kaiako to confidently use digital technologies, programmes and devices to support their teaching and learning programmes across all curriculum areas and Ngā Wāhanga Ako. Digital fluency encompasses digital capabilities, digital principles, and digital literacies for teachers. Digital citizenship modules are also available for staff professional development, covering areas in digital citizenship, cybersafety, and copyright. An informal national learning exchange has operated for well over a decade supported by the Ministry of Education - the Virtual Learning Network community. This network of various clusters across Aotearoa ensures a national backbone of online curriculum that all participating schools can access. In 2023 this network now consists of two organisations - NetNZ and Kotui Ako and is available to both primary and secondary schools.
The Nationwide Digital Readiness Programme (Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko) introduces teachers, kaiako and principals to the new Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko curriculum content and teaching strategies.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2020 Privacy Act and Privacy Codes of Practice regulate data privacy in New Zealand. All schools and early learning services are required to comply with its provisions, with personal information managed in accordance with the Act and the Ministry of Education website privacy statement. Any personal information collected under the Te Mana Tūhono programme is used by the Ministry to help maintain and upgrade school ICT infrastructure, support school in using ICT infrastructure (including responding to issues raised with us by schools), and as otherwise permitted by the 2020 Privacy Act or other legal authority. Personal information is only disclosed to third parties when related to the purpose for which it was collected (e.g. to N4L to help resolve network issues), as authorised by the person concerned, or where otherwise consistent with the 2020 Privacy Act or other legal authority.
The 2020 Digital and Data for Learning Brief additionally aims to improve online safety for learners, which includes protecting data from misuse, and investing in cyber safety and security capabilities and awareness. Specific objectives include providing clearer guidance on the safe and appropriate use of technology, such as when it is appropriate to introduce technologies for children’s learning, how to manage screen-time, and how to best protect children and young people from digital harm.
The 2019 Cybersecurity Strategy outlines the areas where the government prioritises action to ensure that New Zealand is “confident and secure in the digital world”. One of its objectives includes the protection of online privacy and security.
Kura and schools are largely responsible for managing their own digital environments, but their capacity and capability to do so is greatly variable and often less than is needed, particularly in the context of escalating risk. Improving cyber security and data privacy in the education sector is a priority for the Ministry of Education, particularly in the schooling sector. The Ministry of Education has established a Cyber Security and Digital Support for Kura and Schools programme to combat the increasing risks and challenges in the online space. The Ministry has created awareness and guidance resources to support school protect their data online. The programme has created two fully-funded services, an email filtering service and a domain name registration and hosting service to support schools.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
According to the 2015 Harmful Digital Communications Act, it is an offence to send messages and post material online that deliberately cause serious emotional distress. The Act also applies to students and cyberbullying incidents in schools. Schools should ensure that staff are familiar with the Act, help students understand the options available to them and the potential implications. School Boards of Trustees are also responsible for ensuring cyber safety under the National Administration Guideline 5, which aims to provide a ‘cyber safe’ learning environment. The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association Safety in Schools Toolkit explains the implications of many Acts for schools.
The purpose of the 2015 Digital Technology: Safe and Responsible Use in Schools Guide is to support schools in the management of safe and responsible use of digital technology for learning, with reference to cyberbullying and abuse. According to the 2017 Safety in Technology Education: A Guidance Manual for New Zealand Schools, schools need to have policies in place that deal with online safety, which include cyberbullying, copyright, accessibility, and managing BYOD in schools. Acceptable use policies are an agreement between the school, teachers, and students to adhere to guidelines when they use digital technologies, which should include provisions for data privacy violation and cyberbullying (among others). The 2020 Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities additionally states that schools need to ensure places of learning are safe, inclusive and free from racism, discrimination and bullying.
The Bullying-Free NZ website provides guidance, resources and tools to schools to review, plan, and implement evidence-informed bullying prevention approaches in accordance with the Bullying-Free NZ School Framework.
Netsafe is the approved agency for the 2015 Harmful Digital Communications Act. Netsafe offers guidance, toolkits, advice and training for schools on how to protect young people online.
The Ministry of Education’s ICT Helpdesk assists schools with digital technology and is responsible for providing Ministry policies on the use of ICT in schools, school administration of ICT products, ICT policy, and the use of ICT products. The ICT helpdesk for schools also provides first level support for all schools about hardware and software issues. All teachers and administrators in New Zealand registered schools can use the Ministry’s ICT Helpdesk. It also supports users of Student Management Systems, Learning Management Systems, and Student Transfer Systems.
Enabling e-Learning is the Ministry of Education’s online ‘hub’ for ICT-related education resources and programmes in New Zealand, bringing together everything that school leaders and teachers need to improve their e-learning practice. This is currently under review.
Technology online provides resources supporting schools and kura implement the technology learning area and the digital technologies, hangarau matihiko whenu.
The Government established N4L as a Crown-owned company to develop and operate a managed network for schools. The Managed Network provides all schools with Government funded access to reliable, fast, safe internet connections with uncapped data.
The New Zealand Ministry of Education is responsible for the development of inclusive, accessible and integrated national, digital and physical infrastructure and transport services to the education system. This includes managing the school property portfolio.
The 2020 Education and Training Act contains provisions that are directly relevant to how schools should manage an incident involving digital technology when it is involved in an incident, outlining steps and processes that deal with the surrender and retention of students' digital devices. The legislation defines a digital technology item as any tangible item such as a computer or mobile phone, or any digital information stored on a computer and other electronic device.
According to the 2015 Digital Technology: Safe and Responsible Use in Schools Guide, school and student property are managed differently so a sound understanding of the ownership of digital technology and the content generated by students in curriculum delivery is necessary. Generally, the devices in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes are either the property of the student or the leasing company, not the school and students own the copyright of any original work they create at school regardless of who owns the device it was created on.
This profile has been reviewed by the Ministry of Education (New Zealand).