Blended learning and enhanced outcomes for Maori Learners

Final day of the DEANZ conference in Wellington today, and the final keynote speaker Was Professor Sir Mason Durie, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Massey University with an inspiring address titled “Blended learning and enhanced outcomes for Maori Learners.”

At the core of Prof. Durie’s talk was his assertion that the principles and practices of distance education should now regarded as the preferred option for education, rather than the default (ie after all other options have been exhausted). This isn’t to say he things all education will now be at a distance, rather, that the practices of DE that provide for such things as the personalisation of learning, flexibility in terms of place, pace and time of learning, and of approaches to assessment will be prevalent. He argues that DE as a preferred option provides:

  • a pathway to academic excellence
  • the opportunity to participate in learning networks
  • a complement to other modes of learning in a blended form
  • chance to engage through innovative use of ICTS

To illustrate what he meant, Prof Durie provided three case studies:

The Tutoa Charitable Trust – focusing on excellence in Sport and Education with a Maori context, providing an education for aspiring elite NZ Maori sports persons who might otherwise miss out as a result of balancing commitment to pursuing their sporting schedules as well as studying toward their academic qualifications.

Te Rau Puawai – focusing on building a Maori mental health workforce. This programme has seen some very encouraging results – with an 85% paper pass rate, B+ average on papers, 211 graduates since 1999 and 90% of graduates still employed in the Maori health sector!

Te Hononga Mātauranga Māori Doctoral Resource Portal – providing online support and information for Māori Doctoral students.

Prof Durie highlighted some of the challenges facing New Zealand in the future, arising from:

  • changing demography
  • technology transformation
  • global colonisation
  • blurred boundaries
  • the information avalanche

… noting that the economic, social and technological change will inevitably impact on learning, and that current learning arrangements are no long satisfactory. He proposed a framework to help guide us into the ‘blended learning’ future he promotes. This model is based on a set of three principles:

  • engagement
  • enlightenment
  • empowerment

supported by a set of five success catalysts:

  • extended entry
  • multiple learning sites and modes
  • cultural congruence
  • collegiality
  • whanau aspirations

And guided by a set of five goals:

  • academic achievement
  • vocational advancement
  • cultural integrity
  • lifelong learning
  • contributions to whanau and society

While the context of Prof Durie’s talk focused on the needs of Maori learners, what he had to say resonated well with everyone who attended, including the delegates from Australia, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

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