From January 2024, digital technologies resources will now be available free of charge to every student, teacher and homeschooling parent in New Zealand.
The resource is run on not-for-profit Grok Academy’s online platform and is made specifically for the New Zealand context. There are hundreds of courses covering coding, web-design and more. It aligns with the New Zealand curriculum for Years 4 – 13, and they support delivery of digital technologies for educators of all experience and skill.
Resources are available for educators now to plan their 2024 curriculum.
Programmes include courses such as Python for Beginners, web-design, block coding and more. Students move through a series of teaching slides and progress through activities to complete a course. Teachers can assign courses to whole classes or to individual students, and monitor their progress through the teacher dashboard.
On the dashboard, teachers can also access information such as when a student was last working through a lesson, and which teaching and activity slides they’ve completed. Teachers also have access to sample solutions and comprehensive teacher notes, which support teachers of all levels and ability to deliver digital technologies content.
Julie McMahon, New Zealand’s lead educator at Grok Academy, previously HOD of Technology at St Hilda’s Collegiate in Dunedin and Curriculum Specialist in Digital Technologies at the Ministry of Education says that the programme is also good PLD for teachers looking to upskill in digital technologies.
“If we have a teacher that’s new to digital technologies, they can work through the courses themselves. Teachers have access to all the sample solutions so it’s good PLD. But they don’t have to be an expert, because it’s all here. [The resource] does the marking and guide the teacher through what the students might have issues with.”
Ruth Davey, Assistant Head of Learning Area: Technology (Design Tech) at Lincoln High School | Te Kura Tuarua o Waihora is an experienced technology teacher who has been using Grok for years. She says that it’s been an invaluable resource in her classroom.
“Grok presents the information in such a way that kids, from my juniors all the way to seniors, will get involved. They don’t give up, they chat to each other. Sometimes they need support, but they happily consult with each other, and when they don’t, they’ll ask me and it’s very easy to support them to use the material and resources.”
Davey also praised the flexibility of the platform, noting that Grok doesn’t lock students into sequential lessons. This enables students to be challenged and extended and keeps them engaged.
“When things are dull and boring kids don’t want to do it. Grok have made [digital technologies] interesting to investigate, they use puzzles well and hide the information all over. They ask questions in such a way students are intrigued.”
Being an experienced technology teacher, Davey says she’s impressed by the results Grok delivers. Davey says that after the courses, she often assigns a project or a paper-based test for students to demonstrate their learning. She finds that students perform well and can apply the knowledge imparted from Grok courses.
Additionally, the platform being tailored for New Zealand audiences makes the content even more engaging, says Davey.
“The resources are tailored for New Zealand schools. It uses New Zealand place names and New Zealand English as well as te reo Māori. This makes it a lot more accessible and easier for our students to understand what’s going on.”