Mapping out your strategic thinking

(Last Updated On: February 9, 2017)

Need help coming up with an action plan for developing your digital technology? The Connected Learning Advisory’s ‘Strategic Thinking Roadmap’ is designed to help schools implement a strategic direction that ensures technologies are integrated into effective teaching and learning.

“How can I put together a strong, strategic case to help our board understand why we need additional devices?”

“How do we make sure we’re choosing the right technology, and not just jumping on the latest cool tool bandwagon?”

“How can I support our teachers to make the best use of digital technologies?”

“How can we connect with our families and whanau using digital technologies?”

These are examples of what the Connected Learning Advisory (CLA) hears from teachers and leaders, and they’re the reason for creating the ‘Strategic Thinking Roadmap’ – a process to help make sense of the complex challenges behind using digital technology to support future-focused learning.


How does it work?

The planning process begins with an overview of the roadmap and how to use it. This usually involves getting in touch with the CLA and speaking to the local advisor, who will follow up with a visit or video call. A free half-day strategic thinking workshop can also provide an overview or schools can work through the online guide, which includes short, introductory video clips and steps to get started.

Step 1: Assemble a diverse lead team. Don’t just include the ‘tech savvy’ early adopters, think about the curriculum leaders who can help others see a way forward.

Step 2: Determine where you are at right now, what’s going well with the use of digital technologies (the enablers) and what’s causing concern (the blockers)? Consider how you can leverage the enablers and address the blockers.

Step 3: Focus on where you want your school to be.

To help you determine and develop this vision, the roadmap draws upon five key concepts:

  • Always start with your purpose and principles;
  • Link your planning to teaching and impact on learners;
  • Champion inquiry and innovation;
  • Planning needs to be informed by research and data; and
  • Ensure a schoolwide commitment to continual professional growth.

Ask two key questions

Based on the work of Julia Atkin, in her paper ‘Learning to Know – Learning by Design’, the roadmap asks two key questions:

  • What is powerful for our students to learn now and for the future?
  • What does powerful learning and therefore powerful teaching look like?

You’ll notice they have nothing to do with technology … and rightly so! As Michael Fullan puts it in his book, ‘The New Meaning of Educational Change’: “Make pedagogy the driver and technology the accelerator”.

Planning your digital technologies journey is inextricably linked to your planning for teaching and learning: you must first agree the purpose, values, and beliefs that underpin how you work as a learning community.

Only when your school or kura can clearly articulate its purpose and principles should the decisions about “what to do” with digital technologies be addressed. The roadmap process revolves around helping you to explore this and only then determining how digital technologies can help to support, enhance or amplify your vision for learning.

Weaving the strands

weaving-the-strandsOnce the vision has been clarified, the lead team considers eight key planning strands they need to weave into their strategic thinking:

  • Intentional leadership
  • Genuine learning partnerships
  • Powerful pedagogy
  • Purposeful curriculum
  • Expanded teacher capacity
  • Innovative learning environments
  • Robust digital infrastructure
  • Cohesive digital services

In the online guide, each strand is underpinned by research and supported by resources, such as school stories and reflective questions that are useful as discussion starters.

Typically, discussions should take place with wider consultation of students, staff, wha-nau, iwi and community, as the lead team gathers its evidence and develops its goals. Templates are available to record and share discussions, as well as the goals and actions that form the plan itself. Together, these provide a concise, accessible document to share and revisit as the plan is enacted, revised and continues to be developed.

Compiled by Clive Francis, a Connected Learning Advisor.

For more on the Strategic Thinking Roadmap go to

Free Workshops in 2017

For more face-to- face support, throughout 2017 the advisory is offering free professional learning opportunities for teachers and leaders to come together and explore effective ways to manage and plan how your school or CoL use digital technologies for learning.

Regional Workshops: Choose two morning breakout sessions from topics like Digital Fluency, Digital Citizenship, Using Social Media and Using Digital Technology for Literacy Support. Stay for the afternoon if you’d like to spend time with your colleagues or working with a CLA facilitator.

Strategic Thinking Roadmap: Half-day workshops aimed at supporting schools and kura with their planning for the use of digital technologies

Digital Technologies in CoLs: Support for cross-school leaders to use digital technologies to work towards achievement targets.

Using digital technologies to support learning in a senior secondary context: Support specifically for secondary schools.

The first of these will be held on 14 and 16 March in Auckland and Tauranga. For more details about all workshops and to register for Auckland and Tauranga visit

Connected Learning Advisory’s Free Services

The Ministry of Education’s Connected Learning Advisory – Te Ara Whi-tiki is committed to supporting schools and communities as they plan for, manage and use digital technologies for learning. The Ma-ori name for the service — Te Ara Whi-tiki — draws on the idea of connecting people and expertise as they plan pathways for learning.

CLA advisors are based regionally from Otago/Southland to Tai Tokerau and have a wealth of first-hand educational experience, including school leadership, classroom teaching, online learning and technical support. They understand the challenges and opportunities presented by technology in education and have the expertise to support schools no matter the stage of their e-learning journey.

Over the past 18 months, it has answered hundreds of queries covering a range of technology-related topics, including:

  • using digital technologies in the classroom;
  • developing an e-learning action plan;
  • engaging your community through digital technologies;
  • adopting cloud services;
  • procurement of ICT devices and other equipment;
  • digital citizenship; and
  • preparing for BYOD.

Making contact

To contact the Connected Learning Advisory call 0800 700 400, email, or complete the online form in English or te reo Ma-ori at or

If you’re not quite sure how to phrase your question, that’s no problem. Just submit a query to say that you need some help and your local advisor will give you a call to pinpoint the support you need.
An advisor will work together with you in a friendly, supportive way. Whether you need a quick answer or ongoing support we can work within your timeframes. When necessary, it can coordinate responses across a number of the organisations that schools deal with, such as N4L, NetSafe and the SNUP team.

Help yourself to a guide

In addition to providing support through the advisory team, there’s also up-to-date, practical guides on a range topics, such as:

  • Using digital technologies to support learning in a senior secondary context;
  • The strategic thinking roadmap – supporting the development of your digital technologies action plan;
  • Making the best use of your student data;
  • Planning for and managing 1:1 digital devices in your school;
  • Using social media to connect with your community; and
  • Planning for a cloud migration.

The CLA’s complete library of how-to guides, webinar recordings and other resources based on FAQs can be found at

Source: Connected Learning Advisory


Categories: Article