Since then, the Ministry of Education has announced some of the broader package of curriculum support for schools, including an initiative which sees education and digital technologies providers with ideas for engaging projects, able to bid for $1 million.

For mathematics e-teacher and administrator at Kaitaia College in the Far North Clarence Yates, formally integrating the subject digital technology into the NZ Curriculum could not have come at a better time. 

For a number of years, Yates has also worked as mentor for the Virtual Professional Learning Development team led by Hazel Owen, looking at the impact of digital technologies as one of its strands and objectives.

“We have used video conferencing as one of our foundation tools for over 10 years now and we had a saying then that we were flying the plane and adding the wings at the same time,” Yates says.

It has made sense and seemed like a natural progression to use digital technologies.

“We became leaders in this field to use and to provide professional development for colleagues at the school and the over-arching theme has always been the pedagogy of teacher practice over the learning of technology and its tools, whether that be hardware or software,” Yates says.

Currently, digital technologies at the present time in schools seems to resemble a series of “waves”.

“Interestingly, we think we are at the cutting edge yet we are struggling to keep up with some major parts of using digital technologies and it is leaving teachers, students and parents behind such is the pace and expansion of digital technologies.

“Even with good planning and leadership it is difficult to keep up with the significant increase of the growth, demands and expectations of multimedia digital technology.”

While there are some obvious reasons for this, Yates says the recent announcement or “acknowledgement” from the Minister of Education is timely.

“Importantly it could go some way to alleviate the obstacles as well as create more awareness to using digital technologies for our students learning.”

Digital technology is currently taught at Kaitaia College with differing outcomes, expectations and levels, with Chromebooks as the device of choice.

“It is taught as an option subject digital technologies from Year 9 through to Year 13.

“There are  ICT, film and media courses that provide in their own way for the learning and use of digital technologies and in many classrooms digital technologies at varying levels is taught and used for learning, but it depends mainly on the individual teacher.”

The use of digital technologies will benefit students’ learning, teachers’ professional growth, and therefore the community, particularly as Kaitaia College is so isolated geographically.  

However, there will always be pros and cons to its use, Yates adds, and it is important students learn how to balance between when to use digital technologies and to simply switch them off.

“Digital technologies does not stand alone and neither is it expected to do so to improve the learning and achievement of our students.

“It is both supported and supports the other initiatives within the school such as PB4L, Te Kotahitanga and Differentiated Learning.”

Kaitaia College has removed streaming in the junior school and importantly, digital technologies can play a significant role with differentiated learning and cater for different learning styles.

“From experience we have found that many students have a limited and narrow knowledge and use only a few strands such as social media and even here probably only use Facebook for example. 

“Using digital technologies to unlock the wealth of knowledge and how to use it will surely impact in a positive way for our students - teachers are much the same way.

Time will tell about whether this initiative will impact and influence the students, their learning, achievements and future pathways.

“But in the end, if we develop students who create rather than just consume then it has all been worthwhile,” Yates says.