21st Century Learning: Themes of Submissions to the Productivity Commission


The New Zealand Productivity Commission inquiry into 21st century learning futures has provided some interesting insights into provider’s positions on digital learning technologies.

This article is cross-posted from ReGear Learning

Two key themes are repeated in various forms throughout the submissions: the use of technology in teaching and learning is growing and has inherent benefits and challenges, and the model of teaching and learning is moving towards acceptance of a more authentic, long term development of the student as an individual.

How this manifests in New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Strategy is yet to be seen. The more confronting aspects for the sector appear to be the growing need for a digitally fluent faculty and the challenge authentic learning poses for traditional delivery institutions.

The use of technology in teaching and learning

Many submissions agree that whatever the learning and teaching context, digital technologies are having an impact on the way teaching and learning happens. For both students and teaching staff, there is a significant challenge dealing with learning technologies.

There is growing awareness that the relationship between student, and knowledge expert and resources is growing. As information is commoditised and costs of institution-based study increase digital technologies, and in particular communication technologies, play an increasingly important role in student success.

Teaching and learning increasingly involves digital technologies as the basis for communication, the source of tools for creation of, and involvement in, learning activities, and as a source of data involved in quality enhancement, renewal, monitoring and review.

Authentic learning journeys

Long-term study objectives and part time study while working is likely to enhance decision-making as well as reduce debt carried by learners. The 2011 – 2015 New Zealand Tertiary Education Strategy emphasis on encouraging school-leavers into tertiary study, particularly at degree-level, has proven costly for students and for completion rates.

Balancing work and study over longer periods is more effective preparation for many jobs and for learning in general because of the relevance and authenticity of the learning this can bring and the learning capability that develops in the learner.

Face-to-face and hands-on learning combined with remote learning experiences focussed on up-skilling within ongoing employment are likely to attract a premium status due to the efficiency of the workplace blended model balancing costs and responsibilities across provider, workplace and student.

Authentic learning experiences – especially those that are closely linked to workplaces, actual practice and application – are more able to promote and support the development of ‘work ready’ graduates or, more broadly, contribute to the development of employability skills and capabilities.

Read more about the Productivity Commission inquiry and read the sector submissions here.

By Ralph Springett


FLANZ Submission   PDF, 552.6 KB