Unitec Institute of Technology

New Zealand’s “Digital Collaborative Learning” for training teachers

When it comes to teaching with technology, it’s not about what you use, it’s about how you use it. And the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand is dedicated to plumbing the depths of technology-enhanced education through its innovative MIND Lab postgraduate certificate program in Digital and Collaborative Learning.

As New Zealand’s schools become increasingly more tech-savvy with BYOD programs and other technology-infused classroom learning strategies the government there has made a solid commitment to giving its teachers the skills, confidence, and experience they need to make the most of these digital enhancements. In addressing this challenge, Unitec created its MIND Lab postgraduate certificate program with the help of philanthropic funding and an ambitious goal in mind to certify ten thousand teachers in the art of digital and collaborative Learning.

This trailblazing 32-week hybrid program combines face-to-face with online learning in a way that is active, authentic, and customized by providing plenty of opportunities for students to experiment with a wide range of learning technologies from 3D printing to augmented reality.

At the same time, classroom assignments and activities are based on real-world practice in that they require students to apply newfound knowledge and skills right in their own classrooms. Likewise, program assessments go well beyond traditional approaches like tests and papers to incorporate videography, photography, blogs, and visual diaries that actually capture and demonstrate the proficiency with which these students apply what they have learned.

And Unitec has made this postgraduate certificate extremely affordable having received a sizable grant from the NEXT Foundation to offset more than seventy percent of the program’s tuition cost.

Certainly an innovative and student-centered approach to teacher education, which as one MIND Lab student put it, breaks all the stereotypical boxes of what a postgraduate course looks like [to create something that’s] super fun and engaging.

Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, NZ has developed The MIND Lab to provide a postgraduate certificate in applied practice in Digital Collaborative Learning.

Reflecting on the new theoretical and practical frameworks of contemporary education, the MIND Lab, offers new teaching technologies for active class engagement and emerging pedagogical practices for today’s learner.

With a goal of certifying 10K teachers through the program, the Lab has garnered philanthropic funders, NEXT Foundation, to cover $2,000 AUD of the $2750 tuition for each student. Teachers pay only $750.

The class includes professional development in many learning technologies including 3D printing, coding, augmented reality and more. Rather than essay assessments, video projects provide evidence of learning. Google Hangouts, owned by the students themselves provide a highly collaborative environment.

The 32-week program is mostly online with some evenings. There are two 4-hour face-to-face sessions on site required. These 4 hour sessions provide active hands-on learning activities with those technologies not accessible online such as 3D printers. Learners can take the online synchronous sessions when available. Twelve evening sessions a week of same class are conducted to provide flexibility.

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