Why are teachers heading back to school?

(Last Updated On: May 6, 2016)

As momentum continues to grow around The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning), two schools share their experiences of this innovative and exciting programme.

IMG_1695The Gardens School, Auckland

When Principal Susannah Fowler offered teachers the chance to participate in the postgraduate course as a part of their professional development, Carly Kidd and Kate Reid-Watson put up their hands. They’ve recently completed their studies and admit to feeling more confident in their abilities to use technology in the classroom, as well as enjoying having peers with them on The Mind Lab journey.

“It’s been great to bounce ideas off Kate and other colleagues about how we’re applying our learnings to the classroom,” said Carly.

“We’ve also found the course great for our students,” added Kate. “For example I conducted a survey last year with my Year 1 and 2 students about learning. When asked who decides what they learn, the majority of students answered ‘teachers’. But the way I see it, students should have a far greater say in how and what they choose to learn, and teachers should simply facilitate.

“The Mind Lab encouraged us to connect, share and collaborate with our students, so they can become better self-directed learners.”

Range of new technologies

The hands-on, practical classes used a range of new technologies, looked at a number of different theories and practices. Both Carly and Kate thought the technology interaction should be syndicated across other teaching degrees.

“The content you get out of the course is so much more than expected,” said Kate. “It offers much more than technology, providing research, self-reflection, collaborative teaching and community engagement aspects.”

Sixteen teachers from The Gardens School are now studying towards the same qualification after positive reviews from their colleagues.


IMG_5572Hinds School, Ashburton

McIntyre and six, full-time teachers are currently studying, having first learned about the course at last year’s INTERFACE Xpo in Christchurch. And the team are already reaping the benefits of having taking up the Postgrad PD challenge.

Vicki believes that the course is challenging them as learners, and reminding them of the importance of stepping outside their comfort zone, embracing change and new experiences, and collaborating and working together.

“It’s made us reflect on our current teaching practices and make changes to our curriculum to improve student learning,” she said.

Hinds School places value on teaching students a diverse range of skills that will remain relevant for their future.

“Our students are growing up in a world very different from that of their parents and teachers,” explained teacher Kathryn. “Through our studies with The Mind Lab, we are prepping our students for a future that will be considerably different from today. Our teaching practice needs to reflect this.”

Developing skills and strategies

Vicki added: “Our students need to develop the skills and strategies to be lifelong learners, critical thinkers, problem solvers, and strong, thoughtful and resilient people. To achieve this, we need to scaffold these skills in an engaging, purposeful and multi-levelled learning context.”

The teachers at Hinds School enjoy the collaboration component of the course and were surprised at how simple yet effective the concept really is.

“I love how we can collaborate and network with other teachers to see what they’re doing in their classrooms and learn how we could apply this into our practice,” said Kathryn.

The seven staff members of Hinds School are excited for the remainder of their time at The Mind Lab by Unitec.

“The learning and development won’t stop with completion of the course but rather continue on in 2016 and beyond,” added Principal Vicki McIntyre.


The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) is a part-time, 32-week programme that offers a ‘hands-on, progressive and blended qualification’. Courses are available in eight locations across New Zealand: Auckland Central, South Auckland, Gisborne, Wellington, Christchurch, Rotorua, Whangarei, and Whanganui, with further locations opening later this year. The remaining 2016 intakes are in July and November.

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