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Raranga Matihiko: Design Thinking in action

Internationally recognised as one of the top innovative education programmes, Raranga Matihiko uses a Design Thinking approach for students.

As we have noted earlier, Inquiry Learning is quite common in classrooms around Aotearoa New Zealand. Some culture and heritage institutions are also utilising inquiry approaches in their programmes. In this step we are sharing experiences from Raranga Matihiko Weaving Digital Futures. This programme was led by Te Papa who partnered with a number of museums across the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, and made extensive use of Design Thinking.

About Raranga Matihiko | Weaving Digital Futures

The Raranga Matihiko programme ran from 2018 to 2021. Originally this programme was funded under Digital Technologies for All Equity Fund as PLD programme for teachers to support the roll-out of the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum content. Raranga Matihiko provided rich digital technology learning for ākonga from low socio-economic backgrounds, situated in a museum context. All participants – teachers, students and mātua awhi | parent helpers – are learners and supported. The key success of the programme is the strong co-design of programme with the schools, access to relevant exhibitions and taonga at the respective museums, and equity of access: The programme including transport was provided at no cost to schools, and at select locations, Eat my Lunch provided lunches for the classes. In 2021 Raranga Matihiko | Weaving Digital Futures was recognised as one of the 100 leading educational innovations from around the world.

Raranga Matihiko programme design and delivery

One of the core elements of this programme is co-designing bespoke programmes with the visiting teachers. The approach to this varies between in-person and online collaboration, but educators reported they often found it easier to build a productive relationship with visiting teachers after an initial in-person meeting. Programmes are usually built on classroom learning. With an average of two days spent together at the museum, students were able to inquire deeply into their questions, and they utilised digital tools to create their solutions to problems or to represent and share their learning experiences.

Raranga Matihiko programmes were always facilitated by two educators together (with one educator fluent in te reo Māori), modelling innovative learning practises. As a PLD programme, this also allowed for one of the educators to support the teacher as they observed learning in action, while the other educator worked with the students.

The learning

With a bespoke programme, no two classes experience quite the same. Through the focus on access to innovative digital technology, students usually express their learning digitally. You can see an example under Downloads.

Educators guide ākonga through a Design Thinking process:

  1. The learning in the classroom is expanded on through a visit to relevant exhibitions and taonga (EMPATHIZE).
  2. Ākonga are introduced to the idea of purposeful exploration of digital tools: After a brief introduction to the tool, they are encouraged to explore and tutū to discover what they can do with this tool.
  3. As a class, ākonga DEFINE the problem and begin to IDEATE possible solutions / ways to express their learning.
  4. In pairs or small groups, ākonga repeatedly IDEATE, PROTOTYPE and TEST, with feedback from peers and adults in the room, until they come up with their final product.
  5. Final products are shared, explored and celebrated, often sparking new inquiry questions.

Here is a selection of such final projects:

Student shows food items to sustain Polynesian explorers in a virtual reality world.

Student coded their avatars to interact with their pataka kai | store house.

A school class and their teacher paddle a waka | canoe they have created and decorated in a virtual reality world.

Feedback and Evaluation

Feedback from schools was overwhelmingly positive. The external evaluation found that

Raranga Matihiko (Raranga Matihiko) is a highly effective and responsive learning system. Its success is the result of positive museum-school relationships built over time; collaboration between museums and museum facilitators; quality programme design that integrates digital technologies with local curriculum, taonga, and histories; expert co-facilitation that models Treaty partnership and caters for both Māori and English-medium settings; and proactive removal of equity barriers to school and student participation.
2020 Evaluation Report, p.2
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Best Practices for Culture and Heritage Education in Aotearoa New Zealand

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