The Report of the E-Learning Advisory Group March 2002 6/14<Steve Maharey Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)
The Report of the E-Learning Advisory Group March 2002 6/14
Developing a Vision
A Treaty-Based Approach to E-Learning
There are five Treaty-based
principles which should underpin New Zealand's e-learning strategy.
- The Kawanatanga Principle (Government principle) is based on Article
1 of the Treaty and recognises the right and obligation of the Crown to govern
and make laws for the common good.
In the light of this, the Advisory Group believes any legislative framework
or regulations developed for e-learning needs to explicitly address how
e-learning will benefit Maori. For example, this could be a requirement for
Tertiary Education Institutions (TEIs) to include in their Charters and
- The Tino Rangatiratanga Principle (Selfdetermination) is based on
Article 2 of the Treaty and guarantees to Maori their rangatiratanga over all
they possess for as long as they wish to retain it. It recognises the right of
iwi to manage their own affairs. It affirms the rights of Maori to development
in the widest sense.
This principle could be translated into action through, for example,
appropriate Maori advisory structures and processes and specific funds for
development of Maori e-learning resources.
- The Partnership Principle refers to the notion of good faith and is
based on the Treaty as a whole as signed between Maori and the Crown. The
partnership principle is important in developing a greater sense of mutuality
between the partners.
The notion of mutuality is critical for the success of e-learning in this
country. There are many opportunities for institutions to work together in
e-learning for the benefit of students and for the institutions.
- The Protection Principle refers to the sense of active protection for
Ma-tauranga Maori, Te Reo Maori and Tikanga Maori, and other taonga or treasures
of the ancestors that have been handed down to and augmented by successive
generations. Within this principle is also a principle of redress.
An example of putting this principle into practice would be resourcing the
development of Learning Objects in Maori language along with acknowledgement and
implementation of appropriate processes for managing that Maori intellectual
property. Another area is research into Maori uptake and use of e-learning.
- The Participation Principle refers to the rights of citizenship and
equality. In education, generally this principle means such things as the right
to equitable access and educational opportunity.
The Advisory Groups sees that any strategy must improve participation, and
more importantly, increase success for Maori. Specific projects could focus on
piloting new opportunities for Maori.
(The principles identified in this section are based on material obtained
from the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission and the published work of R
Bishop and S Graham (1997), Implementing Treaty of Waitangi Charter Goals in
Tertiary Institutions; A Case Study, D Crengle (1993) Taking into Account
the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Ideas for the Implementation of
Section 8 Resource Management Act 1991, Ministry for the Environment,
Wellington; M Durie Te Mana, Te Kawanatanga. The Politics of
Self-Determination. Oxford University Press (1998), Auckland; I Kawharu (ed)
(1989) Waitangi. Maori and Pakeha Perspectives of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Oxford University Press, Auckland.)
Need for vision and strategy
While many tertiary education providers are
making significant progress in advancing e-learning opportunities, New Zealand
lacks a coherent, national e-learning strategy. This is not surprising since
Government policy in the 1990s encouraged a competitive market-driven approach
to education, resulting in institutions working to a large extent in isolation.
The challenge now is to find ways to achieve an overall, integrated approach
without sacrificing institutional autonomy. Participation must be voluntary. The
concepts of competition and collaboration must not be seen as mutually-exclusive
and a balance will need to be struck to encourage a responsive, innovative
At the same time, it is recognised that given the current limited
capabilities and resources of tertiary education providers, the formation of
strategic alliances will be essential to fully develop New Zealand's e-learning
Learning from overseas experience
Many countries around the world are
striving to create their own e-learning environments as part of their efforts to
develop a more highly-skilled and qualified population. Some nations have
attempted to develop national e-learning strategies; other have taken a more ad
hoc approach. Whatever the approach, the most compelling motivation appears to
have been the need to move swiftly so as not to be left behind.
In its research to date, the Advisory Group has found very little evidence of
evaluation of strategies that might inform New Zealand's strategic vision. We
have found it useful however to examine the underlying approaches taken by other
countries seeking to develop an effective e-learning environment. While New
Zealand can learn much from these examples, the overwhelming conclusion is that
New Zealand must forge its own e-learning vision, with a confident indigenous
For example, the Advisory Group notes overseas examples in developing
bilingual e-learning approaches and believes there is exciting potential to
explore the possibility of using Maori language, culture and concepts in
developing on-line learning content and services. These themes are expanded on
in the chapter relating to Maori and e-learning.
Overall, international developments highlight the dynamic potential of
e-learning as a tool, but also reveal that sound pedagogy, policies and
approaches must underpin it. The fundamentals of quality teaching, learning,
assessment and certification still apply along with basic business models of
investment. The challenge is to fulfill the potential of this exciting learning
tool without compromise to the learning process itself. It is clear from
international experience that this is far more likely to happen through
collaboration between Government, providers and business.
It is tempting to treat e-learning as an add-on to existing learning methods.
However, overseas experience reinforces the need to take a much bigger picture.
We need to view e-learning as part of a total student experience with the
potential to revolutionise enrolment procedures, learning and teaching,
certification and student support. Overseas, e-learning is blurring the lines
between institutions and between learning and work. This evolution is occurring
because governments see it as a national priority to increase choice and access
to lifelong learning for all their citizens. Overseas experience also underlines
the importance of a collaborative tertiary environment with strong links between
New Zealand context
The Advisory Group sees that central government has
a key role in helping to facilitate this national strategy and providing
incentives for providers to further national goals. Aspects of a strategy might
involve all providers acting together but there must also be scope for
autonomous action at institutional and local level. It is extremely difficult to
predict what is the best single way forward. It is therefore very useful for the
strategy to include a sufficient range of options so that lessons can be learned
from the range of activity underway and the overall strategy adapted as this
Each institution must see their work as part of a wider tertiary learning
experience and enable their students to enhance their e-literacy while studying.
Students must be able to access a range of e-learning options, whether it be at
the institution or at home or in the workplace. The tertiary education system as
a whole needs to have the technical and human capacity to support this range of
e-learning options for students. This means having the capacity to provide
students with web-based information about courses and services. It also means a
full range of on-line support services particularly for non-campus-based
students and learning venues. And, of course, it means the provision of
web-based courses and an integrated online learning service such as enrolments
All of this will offer a significant opportunity for specialisation and
cooperation across existing and new tertiary alliances and boundaries. It is
envisaged that institutions will contribute to this system to different degrees,
according to their capabilities and resources. The fundamental assumption is
that wherever students are learning they will have access to an integrated
quality e-learning system with appropriate connections and support.
This strategy is not just
about doing more of the same. To be successful, it must usher in new approaches
and fresh contributions. For example the Advisory Group is excited about the
potential of e-learning, with its emphasis on participatory and interactive
learning, to be a powerful education tool for Maori. This will require effective
partnerships with iwi and Maori providers to develop Maori learning objects. The
Advisory Group believes it is vital that the Treaty of Waitangi inform the
development of an e-learning strategy and ensure its success for all New
Zealanders. The implications of a Treaty-based approach are highlighted in the
sidebar panel. There is potential for e-learning to give Maori greater control
over their learning and reduce current disparities in achievement.
There are other exciting gains to be made in areas such as workplace and
adult learning or in regions where people are geographically isolated. And, as
we have noted, there are opportunities for enhancing the quality of learning in
campus-based institutions. The potential gains, however, will only be realised
if there is a common vision of what an e-learning future can offer and
institutions prepare their own strategies in ways that contribute to the
tertiary system as a whole.
The Advisory Group believes that over time, this collaborative approach will
work to considerably strengthen the position and capacity of participating
institutions in terms of teaching, learning, staff development and technological
Our vision for e-learning
The Advisory Group shares a vision where all New Zealanders will access:
- Learner-centred e-learning opportunities that maximise choice and
- E-learning of world-class quality, that draws on the best offerings, from
here and overseas
- E-learning that reflects New Zealand's unique cultures, Treaty-based
responsibilities and the special strengths of its teachers and educators
- A cost-effective system that benefits from the involvement of both public
education providers and private enterprise.
There are a number of e-learning
opportunities that need to be explored within the context of an overall national
strategy. Building on the vision outlined above, these might be summarised as
- Build scaleable delivery options that will enable responses to the
increasing demands of domestic and international markets in a lifelong learning
- Develop infrastructure, particularly bandwidth, human resource capability
and adaptive systems to support e-learning developments.
Maximise choice and flexibility
- Provide New Zealanders with comprehensive information about learning
opportunities in New Zealand.
- Develop systems of mutual accreditation for agreed
- Provide assistance to tertiary education institutions collaborating in the
development and delivery of e-learning.
- Foster and fund e-learning quality assurance systems ensuring world class
New Zealand's uniqueness
- Foster e-learning based on New Zealand research and best practice.
- Encourage research and practice-based teaching strategies using electronic
- Encourage Maori language learning opportunities through
- Ensure funding regimes do not penalise the adoption of e-learning and
distance education strategies.
- Create reward systems for tertiary education providers undertaking effective
collaboration in e-learning with industry.
- Contribute to the development of an innovative, e-learning nation through
local, national and international provider alliances and by partnering with
industry and science organisations.
In the chapters that follow, the Advisory Group addresses these opportunities by
focusing on the key educational components that make up the 'value chain' for
delivery of learning options. To gain full advantage from our strategy, New
Zealand must make sure that it covers all aspects of the value chain.
As the diagram below illustrates, the components are market analysis,
curriculum design, course development, enrolment, delivery, teaching, assessment
and credentialling. Spanning this whole process are the three supporting
functions of leadership, quality assurance and capability development.
The Advisory Group has found this to be a useful model in evaluating what
might happen with e-learning. Overseas experience shows that one of the
characteristics of e-learning is the potential it offers for providers to
develop new products and services at each step of the value chain. At the same
time, many institutions will be involved in enhancing their services by focusing
on all aspects of the value chain.
The overall aim is to maximise the benefits for learners and providers
through both options. While it is vital that cost-effective decisions are made
in implementing an e-learning strategy for New Zealand, the Advisory Group is
strongly of the view that e-learning must not become a vehicle for cutting costs
and diminishing the learning options.
With e-learning as with all kinds of learning, the needs of the student must
take priority and shape our thinking as we consider the investment options for
using technology to create a quality learning experience.