The move to modern learning environments in New Zealand secondary schools : step forward or smokescreen?
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Citation:Bisset, J.A. (2014) The move to modern learning environments in New Zealand secondary schools : step forward or smokescreen? An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Management and Leadership Unitec Institute of Technology
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/2700
To prepare 21st century learners for what has become known as the ‘knowledge age’ the New Zealand government is recognising the need to provide the flexibility of modern learning environments (MLEs), rather than investing in older school buildings (Ministry of Education, 2014b). In conjunction with the tangible elements of buildings, furniture and technology, there is also a major shift in educational practices and pedagogy integral to MLEs (Ministry of Education, 2007). Despite this major change to New Zealand schools, there is a paucity of literature into the perceived benefits, or otherwise, of the introduction of MLEs to secondary schools in the New Zealand context. This study examines the shift towards MLEs in three secondary schools and the changes in pedagogy that are occurring as a result of this change. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, focusing on three New Zealand secondary schools, all MLEs. Across the three research sites, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with seven senior leaders and focus group discussions were carried out with three focus groups. The major findings from this study indicate that a MLE is primarily concerned with intangible changes, enabled by the tangible shift to new, open, spacious buildings with on-going access to technology. The tangible changes alone do not define a MLE. The effectiveness of the MLE is largely determined by the ability of the staff and community to support and enact the intangible, pedagogical changes that are needed to establish their vision. This research emphasises the monumental change that is occurring in education and highlights the need for further research pertaining to New Zealand secondary school contexts. It also reveals the need for professional development of school leaders and staff so that they can manage, understand and implement such a significant change in their school communities.