The Report of the E-Learning Advisory Group March 2002 8/14Steve Maharey Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)
The Report of the E-Learning Advisory Group March 2002 8/14
Maori and E-learning
It is vital that Maori are able to fully
participate in and achieve success in e-learning.
The Advisory Group has already stated its view that the implications of the
Treaty of Waitangi, including selfdetermination, partnership and equitable
participation and access, should underpin the evolution of e-learning in New
Zealand. This means providing opportunities for Maori to determine what form
this participation should take and what processes and structures Maori would
like to establish to achieve these goals.
It is in the interests of the country as a whole that New Zealand's
e-learning environment enables Maori to participate equally at all levels of
e-learning. This applies not only to the numbers of Maori participating, but
also to the quality of outcomes they achieve. Throughout this report the
Advisory Group has focussed on the learning needs of students and how e-learning
can support their learning experience.
This is particularly important for Maori. Such an approach requires a clear
understanding of the characteristics of Maori learners as particular course
options are developed. We must ensure that Maori learners can access e-learning
that best meets their needs as individuals.
In particular, New Zealand's e-learning environment must provide a setting
where Maori approaches to life and learning can be fully realised. For example,
Maori educational aspirations often tend towards advancing communities, rather
than individualistic goals. We must ensure that e-learning developments enable
this to happen.
Anecdotal evidence to the Advisory Group also suggests that a significant
number of Maori may prefer e-learning options to traditional contact class
situations. If this is the case then it is vital that e-learning opportunities
for Maori are maximised.1 Further anecdotal evidence suggests that many Maori
students find they are heard on-line in ways they have never experienced before
and this makes them feel valued. They also have much more choice over when and
how they participate.
The following excerpt from research done for The Open Polytechnic provides
one possible framework for looking at what the different needs might be.
1 From a lifelong learning perspective, it is notable that The Open
Polytechnic, without implementing any particular strategies to do so, has
attracted 4,000 Maori enrolments. The Polytechnic reports that research into why
these students chose to study with The Open Polytechnic reveals some quite
Convenience was critical, as nearly all students were juggling significant
numbers of roles as well as study. However, a further feature was an apparent
predisposition towards distance education because it affords a level of
anonymity. 'Some Maori students who lack confidence in their ability to study
favour distance education because in the event of failure it preserves their
pride and avoids embarrassment (whakama) before family, friends, tutors,
workmates and potential detractors.' The study also showed that for many of
these students an e-learning environment would increase positive aspects of the
particular mode of study without introducing any of the negative aspects of
attending a campus.
2 The dimensions of this map and the attributes of each group (segment) have
been drawn from research conducted by Nan Wehipeihana for Te Puni Kokiri
Factors facilitating Maori participation and entry into professional occupations
in July 1995. This research conducted with Maori students of The Open
Polytechnic further confirms the broad typologies in relation to the diversity
of what it means to be Maori.
'Alongside the motivations to study and the barriers that Maori
students face, there is a need to understand how Maori students perceive Maori
culture and what it means to be Maori, acknowledging that Maori culture itself
can take a wide range of forms. The following map2 is one way to represent Maori
students' perceptions and feelings about 'being' Maori.
The vertical axis shows students who have or have had a close or distant
relationship with things Maori. Students who have a close cultural connection
with things Maori are those students who describe themselves as having been
brought up and/or immersed in Maori culture/cultural practices.
I was brought up by my nanny in and around the marae...
going to land meetings. I knew all of the old people.
Students who have a distant cultural connection are those who describe
themselves as having had little or no involvement or exposure to Maori cultural
practices and values.
My dad was Maori but I was brought up by my mum (Pakeha
). I don' t know my dad's side of the family and we didn' t have much to do with
cultural things... It's only this year that I learnt what a 'boil up'
The horizontal axis shows how students feel about being Maori. That is,
whether they are positively or negativelydisposed to Maori cultural practices
Those who are at the positive end of the horizontal axis feel positive about
My whole sense of being, purpose comes from being Maori.
It's who I am.
Those who are at the negatively-disposed end feel that being Maori, or the
images of being Maori, are negative. Consequently, they will reject the negative
image of being Maori by not being Maori themselves.
The image of being Maori is all negative gangs,
unemployed, on the DPB. That's not me.
Using these dimensions, there are four main typologies that emerge in
relation to Maori students' disposition to and feelings about being Maori. These
- culture inheritors
- culture dissenters
- culture seekers
- culture (Image) rejectors. '
Case Study Te Rau Puawai
Te Rau Pu- a-wai is a Maori mental health workforce development programme
established as a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health and Massey
University. The programme began in early 1999 and currently provides financial
and learning support to 123 undergraduate and postgraduate Maori students. As
the majority of Te Rau Pu- a-wai students are mature Maori who are studying
part-time from a distance, distance learning support is integral to Te Rau Pu-
a-wai's learning support model. The wealth of knowledge, academic and employment
experience among students has led to an exploration of ways to assist Te Rau Pu-
a-wai students to access each other, communicate and participate in collective
learning at an affordable cost.
The Te Rau Pu- a-wai website is designed to provide secure Web CT access to
the Te Rau Pu- a-wai support team, graduates and students through electronic
introductions, photos and email contacts, discussion groups and learning support
material. Several design factors have been incorporated, including a virtual
whare or meeting house and group photo features, to ensure that the site
reflects the student body and reinforces the notion of a designated 'meeting
place' which belongs to Te Rau Puawai.
The on-line support however has not been developed in isolation. In
recognition of the importance of kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face contact) and
whakawhanaungatanga (the importance of building relationships). Te Rau Puawai
has developed the online support avenue as one aspect of a complete learning
support package which includes: compulsory biannual hui; a monthly newsletter;
an 0800 number; peer mentoring through a weekly call centre and regional visits
twice a year. Developing a whanau or community of Maori students on-line must be
a part of a wider learning support package for maximum utilisation and
A recent evaluation revealed that 78% of students found the electronic
introductions useful and 79% found the discussion groups useful. However only
50% said they used the website regularly, primarily due to lack of time,
computer access and familiarity with the Internet.
This outcome is consistent with the year 2000 annual student evaluation,
conducted by the Te Rau Puawai office, where only 50% of students reported the
website to be useful all or most of the time. Based on these indications, Te Rau
Pu- a-wai is currently implementing a range of strategies to increase
participation including the provision of group and individual tutorials and the
distribution of a userfriendly guide to the website.
The experience of the Te Rau Puawai programme in developing a community and
whanau on-line has reinforced that as a tool, the Internet has enormous
potential in bringing Maori students together and encouraging the utilisation of
collective learning strategies and support. However to maximise that potential,
a number of factors need to be considered from the outset and built into a
continuing development process.
This group of Maori
students embrace Maori culture, and being Maori gives meaning to their life,
which in turn shapes their thoughts, feelings and beliefs. They feel confident
about being Maori and, for the most part, it is indistinguishable from their
sense of self.
Being Maori, it's who I am, it's what I am, it's what I
believe in and it shapes my thoughts and words and actions. It makes me,
Some Maori feel that
certain aspects of Maori culture do not support the pursuit of education. They
cite whakahihi, which in this context they see as broadly equivalent to the
'tall poppy' syndrome discussed previously. It is important to note that they do
not reject being Maori. However, they selectively reject certain aspects of
Maori cultural values and practices which they perceive as negative.
I am Maori, and I' m proud to be Maori, but there are some
parts of Maori culture which don' t support success or being successful. It's not
always seen as okay to stand out. You' ve got to know your place.
This group of Maori
students have had limited exposure to Maori culture. 'Being' Maori and Maori
cultural practices have not featured strongly in their upbringing. They seek to
understand and be part of Maori culture, but experience feelings of inadequacy
and of not belonging and not fitting in. This is for one or a number of the
following reasons. Namely, they:
- Don' t speak te reo (Maori language)
- May not understand customs and cultural practices e.g. marae
- May not be perceived as 'being' Maori because they don' t physically appear
to be Maori or don' t fit the negative stereotypes of being Maori.
People in my position won' t go to tangi for fear of doing
something wrong, ' cause I' ve never been told; but it's part of my heritage and I
feel I should know.
Culture (Image) Rejectors
The rejection of negative Maori
cultural images and stereotypes often involves the 'sidelining' of many aspects
of Maori culture. Negative images such as being low achievers or gang members
can, for some Maori, act as a catalyst to not be like the stereotype.
This group, therefore, will play down being Maori (and possibly pass
themselves off as Pakeha ). They will choose not to be associated with Maori
people/activities in order to feel that they do not fit the stereotypical image.
The image of being Maori is all negative gangs,
unemployed, on the DPB/WB. That's not me.
The framework highlights that approaches used must recognise the diversity
that exists within the Maori community and not attempt to impose a uniform
Not only must we enhance Maori participation in e-learning, we must ensure
that the e-learning experience reflects the richness and diversity of Maori
tikanga and reo. To achieve these goals educational providers/facilitators must
engage with Maori communities and develop meaningful responses to their needs
The development of e-learning in New Zealand must take account of trends such
as the demand for cultural authenticity and identity by Maori learners and the
emergence of dynamic Maori language and Kaupapa Maori learning environments. In
terms of provision,
Maori tertiary providers too face challenges. There are few Maori providers
with the knowledge or capacity to deliver e-learning. The growth and demand for
Maori tertiary provision is placing pressure on Maori providers which may reduce
their ability to make progress in this area. It is also critical that there is
collaboration between non-Maori and Maori-based TEIs (Wananga) so that scarce
resource is best utilised and duplication is avoided.
Te Whanau a Apanui learning on-line
Wha-nau a- Apanui is a rural tribe. Sixty-three percent of its members are under
30 and 80% live outside the tribal rohe. The tribe is using e-learning
programmes as a cost-effective means of upskilling people and helping them
'pathway' into the IT industry.
The tribe sees that on-line training solutions enable people to easily
refresh and update their skills, gain additional certifications and learn about
new advances in technology. They can learn at their own pace when they have time
and make progress in manageable amounts. Their vision is to exist as a tribe in
the 'knowledge economy' and be in control of their own destiny. The tribe has
developed relations with Cisco systems and has academies operating in two
low-decile high schools in the Taira-whiti. An Academy was recently launched at
Tangaroa College (South Auckland). The tribe's main task at present is
investigating deployment options and delivery costing models into other areas.
The e-learning model it is developing will allow them to deliver up to 1,300
IT and Desktop courses and 200 business e-learning courses to any Te Wha-nau a-
Apanui member (or others) anywhere in the world so long as they have access to
Bridging the digital divide
As mentioned earlier in this report,
there is a significant gap between Maori and non-Maori in Internet access and
participation. This reflects a number of factors, including:
- lack of economic resources
- lower levels of educational achievement
- fear of technology
- high cost of digital technology
- lack of phone connections within Maori homes
- preference for face-to-face contact
- lack of appropriate Maori digital material
- lack of Maori providers offering a culturallyappropriate learning
While Maori enrolments in IT courses and the number of computers in Maori
homes have increased, this has not led to high levels of technological literacy
or achievement among Maori. A key point therefore is that participation alone is
not a barometer of success. Strategies for involving Maori in e-learning must
focus on the quality of learning taking place and outcomes achieved.
Research relating to the experience of indigenous learners in other countries
will be important to identify useful parallels and lessons to be learned. There
is opportunity here, too, for Maori to develop a leadership role internationally
through sharing and possibly promoting successful approaches.
The Advisory Group recommends a number of initiatives to enhance Maori
participation and achievement. In particular, a Kaupapa Maori group to work with
Kaupapa Maori-based programmes. (Recommendation 2)
This group would have a mandate to draw on the best expertise here and abroad
and establish good practice guidelines and performance measures.
At the same time Government must challenge tertiary education providers to
act proactively in this area and improve access to technology for local Maori
communities. There may be potential here to involve sponsors and technology
suppliers, as has happened with the SeniorNet nationwide programme.
Other initiatives might include mobile e-learning units, community classes in
e-learning with a Maori focus and flexible use of institutional resources during
the weekend and in the evening.
The Advisory Group recommends developing Internet resources and other
digital material for a Maori audience. For example, the nationwide portal
proposed earlier must have a Maori presence, including a Maori cultural
component and a full Maori language environment. The Ministry of Education's Te
Kete Ipurangi site could also be expanded to provide material for Maori adults.
This would involve expanding its current brief as a site for primary and
secondary learners. (Recommendation 2)
More must be done to assist Maori to participate in e-learning. It is
recommended that entry-level computer classes be run to get them started. Fees
should be minimal or not be charged. It will be important that secondary schools
and tertiary education providers involve themselves in developing these
programmes so there is the potential for students to carry on to higher levels
The Advisory Group recommends that research be commissioned into key areas
of Maori development in the field of e-learning. This would encourage
much-needed innovation and research in the field to determine what works for
Maori and why. (Recommendation 2)
Steps also need to be taken to meet the professional development needs of
Maori involved in e-learning education and development so that these
practitioners have the capacity to develop e-learning in the way that best suits
The Advisory Group recommends that Government recognises its obligations
within the Treaty of Waitangi as they pertain to the e-learning environment.
Building the capacity of Maori to participate in e-learning
(NZ) Limited is involved in the following ICT professional development with
Maori at the schools level. These examples might also provide useful reference
point for tertiary developments since each one of these Ministry of Education
interventions uses some form of distance or flexible learning technology.
- Professional Development Lead Schools are working in partnership with
cluster schools in Tu-hoe, Wairoa, Nga- Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Puku o te Ika
and Te Taitokerau to design and deliver professional development programmes that
take into account their unique features and experiences.
- Access to ICT is a problem faced by New Zealand Teachers. Te Hiringa i te
Mahara ICT is a national project that seeks to address this problem by supplying
participants of the programme with laptops, technical services and professional
development support. EDUCA has supported the Ministry of Education programme
with professional development interventions.
- Kaupapa ara Whakawhiti Ma-tauranga is a Ministry of Education information
and communications technologies programme aimed at improving outcomes for Maori
learners in targeted geographical regions as well as in Wharekura and Maori
Boarding Schools. The programme has adopted the training models of Te Hiringa i
te Mahara, and also includes a video-conferencing component.