All posts by kma307

New AI study

We at the UC DeFLab want to learn more about how you are or not engaging with generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) like ChatGPT, DALL.E and CoPilot in your tertiary studies. To help us learn more about how it is being used and how tertiary institutes can better support you, we want to hear from you!

Take a moment to voice your thoughts on GenAI in education! Your insights are crucial in steering the future of tech in academia. Plus, you’ll be in to win one of twelve $25 vouchers just for sharing your experience. Don’t miss out – every opinion counts! The survey should not take longer than 10 minutes.

To learn more about this study, please see the information sheet linked.

This study has been reviewed and approved by the University of Canterbury Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). If you have concerns or complaints about this research, please contact the Chair of the HREC at .

TechWeek 21

Interested in exploring innovative tech, like Augment/Virtual/Mixed Reality, Minecraft, Microbits, Internet of Things? What to learn how these technologies can be integrated into your teaching and across subjects?

The recent changes within the DT|MH areas of the curriculum has meant all teacher are required to integrate digital technologies into their teaching which focus on the construction rather than consumption of technology. 

This hands-on event is open to all educators interested in learning how you (and your students) can create their own experiences. The event will introduce a range of tools, which you can then apply in your own classes to support students learn across different learning areas.

This PLD event is targeted at all teachers (and pre-service), from Primary to Secondary, interested in starting their own journey into integrating the DT|HM and better linking this within a range of subjects.

The event doesn’t expect any prior experience, just an interest in learning and giving it a go.

The programme will be stretched over the day and you are invited to attend any session.

Day Session (8.45-3.30pm) a series of hands-on workshops around a range of topics, including VR, AR, Minecraft and Micro:Bit.

Evening Session (5-730pm – PLEASE NOTE THE NEW TIME) for those that can’t make it during the day this compressed session highlights some of the key activities that happened over the day.

Tentative Schedule

8.45-9.30Welcome and overview of the day
9.30-10.15Exploring the DT within the NZ curriculum
10.15-10.30Morning Tea (provided)
10.30-11.30Workshop A – Virtual tours
Workshop B – Basic introduction of Minecraft Education Edition (Digital Circus)
– how it works, teacher tools and the resources and ideas available.  Attendees will need to have Minecraft Edu downloaded onto their device to get the most out of the session. 
11.30-12.00Showcase A – PBL in STEM
Showcase B – Minecraft in Languages
12.00-12.45Lunch | Robotics Lab Launch
12.45-1.45Workshop A – AR with Merge Cube
Workshop B – CS Unplugged (Digital Circus)
1.45-2.00Afternoon Tea (provided)
2.00 – 3.00Workshop A – Micro Bits (The Mind Lab)
Workshop B – Scavenger hunts with AR
3.00-3.30Wrap up and end of the day session
5.00-7.30Approaches in MR (F:F and Streamed Online)

Event proudly supported by:

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hosting flanz2021 satellite hub

Day one of the FLANZ conference has seen some fantastic presentations from a range of academics around NZ and AUS. We have had two brilliant keynotes from Asha Kanwar and Derek Wenmoth, with another keynote by Gilly Salmon tomorrow.

Later today we will have our director Cheryl Brown presenting her work on Tertiary Students’ perspectives on the cost of textbooks. Tomorrow we have two students from the lab, Himasha Gunasekara presenting on Creativity in practice- Instagram as a divergent thinking tool in creative education and the recently graduated Carolyne Obonyo presenting on PhD thesis work – Re-Visioning Teaching in Initial Teacher Education Using Mobile Technologies.

DeFL is pleased to be hosting a satellite venue for this conference. We are the only hub for South Island! We have greatly enjoyed engaging with colleagues from the mainland coming together to discuss and share.

Looking forward to tomorrow, for more opportunities to learn and connect!

Getting your kids off screen and on board

An article that originally appeared on the UC Press Release and Scoop (6 January 2021)

 University of Canterbury Associate Professors Kathryn MacCallum & Cheryl Brown, Co-Directors of Te Puna Rangahau i-Ako | Digital Education Futures Lab discuss the pros and cons of our children’s increasing screen time, and how to deal with it this summer.
As parents of boys ranging from 7 to 19 years old, we often discuss and share the strains that technology places on us. Our work as researchers in digital technologies and education means we are often confronted with both the negatives and positives of technology. Research has emphasised the negatives of excessive screen time and has led to issues with eyesight, general wellbeing and often means the absence of more positive activities – like play. However research has also shown there are many positives. So this year as we approach the school holidays and the encroaching battleground around screen time, it is important that we take a step back and consider that screen time isn’t all bad, it’s about that old adage “moderation”. It is also about emphasising the benefits that technology has, which often are wider than just the time spent on the device. 

Kathryn’s sons aged 7 and 9 are currently in a Minecraft craze. While this obsession is centred around an online game, Kathryn has seen the obsession trigger a wider set of interests and skills, many spilling into the real world. Her boys are now avid readers of the many books written about the fantasy world of Minecraft, and have a renewed interest in their blocks and Lego. These toys have been hauled out to recreate and create Minecraft worlds offline. This offline/online play has also led to new discussions and new vocabulary. She has had some interesting conversations with her youngest about what exactly is a biome and the components of glass, concrete and fire fuses, as well as how to create an automatic drawbridge and crop irrigators. 

Since accepting the significant role this game now plays in her children’s lives, Kathryn has noticed other subtle positive influences. Her oldest, typically shy about engaging with others in a playground, now, with the simple mention of Minecraft, will spark great friendships with his peers and lead to new games around the swings and slides as they have their shared secret language and common interest. Wider gameplay has also taught her children wider social skills, like collaboration, problem-solving and creative play, but also how to handle losing and build resilience. 

Cheryl’s kids are a bit older and her 13-year-old is currently immersed in Roblox. This involves a myriad of games she can’t keep up with, but she was pleasantly surprised when she discovered he decided to learn Japanese at school and was inspired to play volleyball as a result of playing his anime games. Clearly games connect to passions and can extend beyond the screen. Her oldest (like many teenagers) has friends distributed across the country and world so gaming and devices keep them connected – something that’s been especially valuable in 2020. When Cheryl asked her 13-year-old son what he thought about the value of games for learning he immediately sent a link to a TikTok video on 7 reasons gaming is good. “But how do you achieve balance?” she asked. “That’s what parents are for,” was his response. Turns out he values the boundaries his parents set and even remembered when he had stricter time limits and how it taught him how to manage his time and maximise his gaming enjoyment.  

So while devices can draw on many positives, it is important we set boundaries and don’t let it run the household. Some advice to consider:
* The boundaries you set will depend on your family values and contexts.  
* Transparency is important so being purposeful about screen time and setting limits that everyone agrees and adopts (including we parents) is an important first step. 
* Create routine screen-free family time, for example: making family dinners a tech-free zone.  
* Consider not taking tech to bed – research has shown that screens can impair sleep (some families have a tech-basket in the hallway which everyone puts devices into before bed). 

This year as school holidays begin, Kathryn plans to set aside time to talk to her children about exactly what these tech limits will be. While she is optimistic that these rules will last the holidays she is also realistic that not all days will be equal. However the opportunity to discuss and set expectations mean her children will know what to expect and hopefully minimise the meltdowns but also be purposeful around planning for non-screen time.  

So while having daily timed limits is one way, it is also important to consider screen-free days – that doesn’t mean you need to go away to some remote location with no wifi or electricity. Rather have a day (or even part of a day) when devices are discouraged. Dig out those old family board games, find an old puzzle or play some frisbee. Be aware of what your children are watching or playing. Ask them about their games and get them to show you and talk about it. Encourage play which is less passive or has an element of creativity, collaboration or physical activity (you’d be amazed at how hard it is to play car racing while sitting still).  

The year has been especially fraught for everyone and so a little off-time is required and this might just mean not worrying so much about a little bit of screen time.
Image: “sisters-screen-time” by JeremyOK is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Research in action – An Education Gazette Article

Are schools ready to embrace new technology across learning? Digital EducationFutures expert Dr Kathryn MacCallum on the complex skillsets for integrating digital technology into all aspects of learning in Education Gazette NZ


This article explores some of the early outcomes of a current research project funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) and led by Associate Professor Kathryn MacCallum. This pilot action research project is a teacher-driven investigation into how innovative technologies can support cross-curriculum teaching. The study adopts a participatory design and research methodology to explore teachers’ experiences of how mixed reality (MR) can be incorporated across STEAM domains to drive diverse learning outcomes. The focus is to explore how creative digital technologies can help bridge the divide between digital technologies and other subject areas and focus on developing new learning opportunities that draw on a range of values, skills and learning through the development and creation of digital artefacts in authentic contexts.