Some teachers at a Rotorua school say they are seeing huge benefits in the classroom as a result of their participation in a postgraduate certificate focused on digital learning.

A second group of Rotorua teachers have just started the 16-week Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning) delivered by The Mind Lab.

The first cohort started their study in November with 62 benefiting from scholarships awarded by Nga Pumanawa e Waru Education Trust and the Next Foundation.

St Mary's Catholic Primary School associate principal and e-learning leader Anne Cato said the school currently had nine teachers doing the programme.

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She said the collaboration and upskilling that came from the programme was making a difference within the school community.

"The content we are learning through the programme was not available when many of us did our teacher training so with the course being offered in Rotorua, and the scholarships available, it seemed silly not to take up the offer.

"I feel like I owe it to students to be as upskilled as I can. Technology is changing so quickly and it's important for teachers to be able to prepare our students for the world they are entering."

St Mary's Year 5 and 6 teacher Bevan James said he was seeing immediate results in his classroom.

"The students were really excited to know their teacher is learning as well. The programme has been great in exposing new teaching tools that I can then show the students. Children are creative and I am watching them explore these new tools and come up with ways to use them that adults didn't think of."

The Mind Lab founder Frances Valintine spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post recently at Nga Pumanawa e Waru's inaugural education conference. She said there was a huge expectation on teachers to have confidence using digital teaching tools. "This programme doesn't teach teachers to use technology as a substitute for pen and paper, it's about how technology can advance learning. Many of the teachers completing the course say they feel more empowered to do their job and are building that confidence to explore, take bolder risks and have a joint ownership of learning in the classroom."

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