Online learning has become the new norm for many students during lockdown and last year NZQA made an effort for students to start doing school exams digitally. To ensure Māori are equipped for the future, a computer expert from Waikato University is developing digital tools fo Māori students.
A reo spell check and speech synthesis could soon be available for students during exams. An initiative from NZQA and was handed over to Dr Te Taka Keegan and his team at Te Wānanga o Waikato. Dr Keegan says that they've started looking into this and is wanting to provide the first report within the next 6 months.
"I and a few of my colleagues within the Computer science department at Waikato Uni have begun looking at alternatives, ideas and possible ways on how we can get this project off the ground. It's an opportunity to provide resources for Māori students, as these types of learning tools have already been established for mainstream students."
Deputy Chief Executive, Digital Assessment Transformation for NZQA Andrea Gray says diversity is something that they've been striving for and is excited to see this project come to life.
"We're really fortunate to be working with Dr Te Taka Keegan and his team at UoW. With the te reo spell check and the te reo text to speech, that's been an initiative because we've been talking to Māori students and they would like to know and like to hear the questions and what they've written."
The resource will assist Māori students in preparation for digital exams. This is an area where NZQA is looking to boost its online offering.
"Last year NZQA offered 35 of the exams online there are about 90 exams in total and we had 200 schools and 14,000 students doing the exams online last year. This year we are offering 59 exams online."
Northland based kura Te Rāngi Āniwaniwa are already front footing the online learning space. Acting tumuaki Delanie Parangi says:
"Our homes have become our classrooms, and our digital devices such as our laptops and phones have become our books. The teachers are tasked to film themselves and what the topic of learning is for the day, it is then shared with the students where they choose when they are ready to learn. Because we are aware that at a home setting, the students are given other tasks to complete which is understandable."
Delanie says one benefit from lockdown has been the move by default to the digital space.