Activity 6 – Contemporary issues and trends

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) argues that current educational systems, structures and practices are not sufficient to address and support learning needs for all students in the 21st century. Changes are needed, but what kinds of change, and for what reasons?

International thinking about education has shifted to a new paradigm. This shift has been driven by an awareness of massive and ongoing social, economic and technological changes, and the exponentially increasing amount of human knowledge being generated as a result.

KPMG’s Future State 2030 – Global Megatrends, identifies some of the most important global trends that they believe will define our future. Two of these, especially poignant for the teaching profession are;

  1. Advances in global education, health and technology are empowering individuals like never before, leading to increased demands for transparency and participation in decision making.
  2. Information and communications technology (ICT) has transformed society over the last 30 years. A new wave of technological advances is now creating novel
    opportunities, begging the question, what work will my students be doing by 2030?


A key trend that has characterised the move away from the old paradigm is the move from teachers completely owning the learning process to learners owning more of it. When learners have the power to act in their learning, they have what is known as ‘agency’.

Agency can take many forms from being empowered to make decisions about which activity to move onto next through to learners being empowered to take positive social action in their communities. Providing choices in learning (whether to work individually or in a group; whether to evidence of learning using a piece of writing or a diagram) is an important factor in engagement, which is in turn a contributor to student learning and success.

What I can do is seek new ways to invite, honour and act on student voice, both in learning and across the wider life of school. This means gathering student views through surveys or focus groups and having students actively participating in classroom decision making. I can begin by exploring the perspectives on the wellbeing of students, by asking if they can say the following about themselves:

  1. I am valued and accepted and have opportunities to make a positive contribution to my learning and culture of my school.
  2. Learning is interesting and fun. I have a say in what I learn about and how.
  3. My language, culture and identity are acknowledged, valued and celebrated.
  4. My teacher respects, accepts and celebrates all the things that make me, me.
  5. My opinions matter.
  6. There are lots of options, groups and people at school that can help develop what I am good at.


The concept of digital convergence refers to the merging of previously discrete and separately used technologies, as well as the constant integration and use of technologies as a part of our everyday life. This brings both challenges and opportunities to those working in education. On the one hand, the proliferation of individually owned devices, be they smart phones or tablets for example, means that students can now access information at any time they wish – whether that be something that supports their learning, or something that may be a distraction to their learning. Engagement and motivation does not always translate to deeper understanding, but this has also changed the balance of power in our classrooms, where teachers have traditionally been the ones who have controlled the flow of knowledge and what is learned.

Another significant impact for my practice however, is the ability to now develop personalised learning pathways, that are more intuitive and responsive to the mix of the learners, level of progress and availability of support available to them. It is on this platform, (beginning in my case with GAFE) that a highly tailored set of outcomes and feedback can be established and monitored in my classroom.



Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning & teaching: A New Zealand perspective. Wellington: Ministry of Education. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from

CORE. (2015). CORE Education’s Ten Trends 2015. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from CORE Education:

Education Review Office. (2015). Wellbeing for Children’s Success at Primary School. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from ERO:

KPMG Australia. (2014). Future State 2030 – Global Megatrends. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from

Ministry of Education. (2014). How does New Zealand’s education system compare? Retrieved October 17, 2015, from Education Counts:


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