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Strategic Planning Vital For E-learning Success at Wānanga

In a report launched at the Innovation Partnership Forum, Ms Lindsay Baxter, Acting Tumutaumatua at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is calling for stronger strategic planning to ensure the successful implementation of e-learning at wānanga.

Wānanga are tertiary institutions that provide Māori-centred education. Programmes offered include kaupapa Māori studies, te reo Māori, Māori arts, education, social health, environmental studies, computing and business management. In 2015, there were approximately 37,000 learners at New Zealand’s three wānanga.

Ms Baxter’s study was undertaken as the Innovation Partnership Fellow, Digital Education. Dr Amanda Lynn, Chair of the Partnership Forum, says: “Digital fellowships focus on the development of people within organisations, where there is deeper understanding of the learning environment and an ability to stimulate innovation from within.”

This is important as change should empower the wānanga and, through that empowerment, enrich the student learning environment. Ensuring that the development potential of both teacher and student is supported is key to reducing fear of change and replacing fear with optimism.” Ms Baxter’s study was peer reviewed by Dr Maggie Hartnett of Massey University.

Ms Baxter’s report ‘E-learning and Wānanga – Opportunities for The Future discusses how wānanga can strategically plan and develop e-learning. The focus is on students being prepared for the future by wānanga that fully embrace e-learning opportunities.

Ms Baxter’s study explored the current use of e-learning at wānanga and identified barriers to e-learning. These included the need to tailor learning to the wānanga student demographic, the need to maintain culturally-rich programmes, to incorporate Māori values into the digital learning space, and the need to support teachers to develop their e-learning capability.

A challenge for the wānanga is to embrace e-learning while retaining their distinctiveness,” says Ms Baxter. “Any strategy needs to be supported by core Māori values and recognise the unique characteristics of each wānanga.”

Increasing the digital capability of the teachers will also be important to give them the confidence to guide students who are studying at foundation levels and have lower prior qualifications,” says Ms Baxter.

The key will be to focus on students and their success. If technology can be shown to support wānanga students and enhance the way they prefer to learn, then wānanga will be more likely to embrace e-learning.”

Dr Lynn says: Māori science and innovation makes a valuable contribution to the Aotearoa/New Zealand economy and society and is respected globally. E-learning provides further opportunity for the realisation of Māori potential.


Dr Amanda Lynn, PhD is an (applied) Economic and Social Anthropologist. Her work includes technology, organisational, industry, regional and national economic and social development.

Dr Lynn is the Managing Director of Mandolin Associates, a boutique outsourcing consultancy. A former CEO of BERL Economics, and executive at Victoria University School of Government, Dr Lynn is currently Chair of the Innovation Partnership Forum on the Digital Economy.

Dr Lynn has been engaged in policy and economic development since 2006 and is a former Top Exporter and Brand-New Zealand leader in advanced manufacturing of intelligent technologies.


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