Low decile Northland schools succeed through digital learning

By Regan Paranihi

A report by the University of Auckland’s Woolf Fisher Research Centre shows low decile schools in Northland are making faster progress in learning than many higher decile schools around the country. 

The report is based on 394 students between Years 4 and 10 who took part in the Taitokerau Education Trust’s digital immersion programme last year.

Lead researcher, Dr Rebecca Jesson says, some of the students on the programme made more progress than the previous year. 

“All lines are pointing upwardly for all year levels for both genders and all ethnicities, which is huge."

Dr. Jesson says writing is an underperformed area in the programme, however, this intake was particularly strong in this area and also made faster than normal progress in maths.

The programme's facilitator, Beth Lamb, says a key element to the programme is the flipped learning model, which is being embedded in all digital classrooms.

This learning model allows teachers to be more hands-on with the students during classroom time as lessons can be made available to students prior and during class.

"The flipped learning model enables the learners to access the content as many times as they need to gain a complete understanding. This is at the forefront of digital immersion best practice and is having a significant impact on student engagement in learning."

Dr. Jesson says teachers are able to engage with each student because the rest of the class are using the online learning resources.

"Teachers can easily engage kids in discussion because rest of class is participating in meaningful online activities where they can share their learning. And the students are working together with high expectations for each other. We can see this coming through."

Taitokerau Education Trust executive officer Liz Cassidy-Nelson says the impressive results are due to more than digital immersion alone.

"It's a wonderful acknowledgment of the commitment by our teachers, who have upskilled to a new way of teaching, and whānau, who are investing in the resources to make the change."