5 EdTech trends changing the way we teach

November 2017


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ANNIE GRAHAM-RILEY looks at the EdTech trends that are changing the way we teach and learn in Aotearoa.

Edtech trends

LMS (Learning Management Systems)

Learning Management Systems aim to take the classroom online. Using Google Classrooms, a teacher can create, distribute and mark activities and assignments. Google Classroom combines Google Drive, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, Gmail, Google Calendar and Google search. Each ‘class’ that a student is part of is created as a separate folder in the student’s Google Drive. Mobile apps for Google Classroom are available on both iOS and Android devices.

Apple Classroom works in a similar way. Particularly relevant in classrooms where students are 1:1 with iPads, Apple Classroom has much the same properties as Google Classroom, but it also allows teachers to manage student devices – think the capability to immediately send all iPads to the ‘lock screen’, group students for differentiated learning and see what students see with the ‘screen view’ function.

Edmodo and Hapara are two more Learning Management Systems which enable teachers to share content, distribute quizzes, assignments, and manage communication with students, colleagues, and parents.

Edmodo synthesises Google Apps for Education and Microsoft Office. There’s no need for children to jump from app-to-app as Edmodo ensures they can all be accessed from within their app. It also alleviates the 21st century problem often faced by teachers: ‘I can’t remember my password’.

Created locally, Hapara is focused on **itals** The New Zealand Curriculum** and John Hattie’s research on Visible Learning. It was based on an idea to create a tool that would streamline teacher workflow and deepen student engagement. Hapara is now used in more than 40 countries and has 2.2 million users worldwide.


Gamification is an educational approach which uses video game tactics and game elements as a means to motivate students to learn. In simple gamification models students earn points through completing tasks, either in app or in class.

Classcraft, available free as a teaching platform and on mobile app, uses a system of real-life rewards and risks. Students collaborate and work in teams depending on their strengths and weaknesses.

Heretaunga Intermediate teacher Karla Hinton has found Classcraft a successful addition to her classroom.

“I have found it hugely beneficial on so many levels. The team element encourages collaboration, teamwork, manaakitanga and tautoko. The gamification aspect (avatars, powers, pets, points and upgrades) provides a cultural relevance for instant buy-in. There is no slacking off as they must upload their evidence each lesson,” she said.

She adds that having extra points allocated when parents sign up to the parent portal added an extra element to the experience, connecting school and the classroom on an accessible level.

Class Dojo and Banqer can be used in a similar manner. With teachers allocating Dojo points, or ‘money’ for positive work ethic, good behaviour or completing set tasks and challenges. Banqer can be used concurrently when teaching financial literacy.

Online Portfolios

In recent years, simple forums such as Blogger and Googlesites have been utilised by schools as a way to collate work and display it in an online portfolio. More recently, forums such as SeeSaw have changed the game, offering teachers a simple and accessible way to create a learning portfolio for each student.

SeeSaw, available as an app, enables children to create a digital portfolio and share their learning with both teachers and parents. With simple features to upload multimedia – pictures, videos, texts, links to documents and websites – the app enables even young children to share their work. Teachers and and students can comment on each other’s work, providing instant feedback. It also can help facilitate student reflection as they view their own learning, understand their needs, and access it from home with their whānau.

SeeSaw have recently introduced an update which allows teachers to easily assign ‘activities’ to be completed by students and has a library of resources for teachers to choose from.


Coding is essentially any computer programme where children are giving a computer step-by-step commands to tell it what to do. According to the Ministry of Education, coding can include making websites, games and apps. With an emphasis on being future-focused, the Ministry’s TKI website now states that coding is important and necessary for future-focused literacy.

Coding can be integrated simply into any classroom and applications and tools to support the teaching and learning of coding have become more prevalent.

Websites such as Gamefroot, Scratch and Scratchjnr allow students to create stories, games and applications using simple coding techniques.

With the required technology, schools are also embracing robotics. iPads and tablets can be used to digitally programme commands which translate directly to a robot in front of them, providing a stimulating learning experience for the children.

Online social networking

Many schools now have social media pages to give messages to parents and add photos of sporting events, competitions and cultural performances. In future, our tamariki will need to safely navigate forums like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

While there is a focus on teaching children literacy skills, such as letter writing, there is also to be a focus on how to construct a tweet, or Facebook post, and communicate safely in the 21st century.  

Teachers can use websites such as Fakebook to help students construct a post. Edublogs, Kidblog and Edmodo also help teachers and students explore social media competencies and writing techniques.

A class Twitter account allows children to simply take a photo of their learning, or upload a screenshot or video, and reflect on it by writing a caption before sharing it to Twitter. Class YouTube channels and Podcasts can also be used to promote oral literacy and share learning in a creative way.

Twitter has been embraced as a forum to connect with learners nationwide and globally. Chapter Chat utilises Twitter as a forum for Kiwi kids to connect with each other as they read a shared novel in their classroom, then share their learning and respond to questions about the text during a weekly ‘Twitter Chat’ session while teachers connect on Facebook about the weekly reading and teaching.


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