Wellington 2010 Technology Summit

Create an action plan to advance a better understanding of the place for ICTs in New Zealand education and society at large; and a clearer sense of the urgency with which national and sector-focused initiatives should be moving forward.

This was the goal of the forty-eight influential leaders from across the nation, all very involved in the debates around broadband, emerging technology, and other strategic technology choices facing New Zealand who met in Wellington on September 30, 2010, at the Strategic Technology Summit sponsored by the Australasian Council on Open, Distance, and e-Learning (ACODE), Ako Aotearoa (National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence), the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Massey University, and the New Media Consortium (NMC).

The occasion for the discussions was the imminent publication of the 2010 Australia-New Zealand Edition of the Horizon Report – the third in the annual series. The report documents clear and practical directions for the uptake of emerging technology in Australia and New Zealand specifically, and like all of the NMC’s series of sector and regionally based reports, it is distributed free of charge under a Creative Commons license to anyone interested. The various editions focus on tertiary education, primary and secondary education, museums, the Australia-New Zealand and Latin American contexts, and the world as a whole. The reports enjoy a global readership of more than 500,000 educational leaders, faculty, teachers, and policy makers, and are used in more than 70 countries. (For more info, see http://horizon.nmc.org.)


For each of the last three years, the Australia-New Zealand Horizon Report has identified six emerging technologies that will be important to tertiary education within Australia and New Zealand over the next five years, the national and international trends driving their implementations and adoptions, and the challenges inherent in those efforts. This year, the report targets e-books and mobile devices as technologies ripe for educational adoption in the coming 12 months; open content and augmented reality as new approaches coming into broad use over the next two to three years; and gesture-based computing and visual data analysis as technologies that are already on campuses in some contexts, but expected to become widely applied over a four to five year time span.

With access to the full research set from the current round of analyses for New Zealand, the participants in the Strategic Technology Summit looked to what will be needed to ensure tertiary education is ready to take advantage of the six technologies identified in the report. Over the course of the summit, they considered the impact of global and local trends, key challenges, and critical stakeholders in the conversations that will need to take place if Australia is to be a leader in the application of emerging technologies to the educational process.


A Call to Action

Summit attendees considered a wide range of organizations — policy groups, academic and discipline New Zealand’s ability to innovate in the educational arena at a global level. In addition, the group looked to identify exemplar projects within New Zealand that could be used to showcase the tremendous potential of the developments identified in the Horizon Project work.


The ultimate task for summit participants was to develop action recommendations in three areas: national policy; innovation catalysts; and outreach — that is, avenues for ongoing discussions around emerging technologies and increasing understanding among both educators and the public around their utility and applications for learning, research, and creative inquiry. Twenty-three potential actions were framed. These were discussed and ultimately ranked by the group to distil the six highlighted in the following paragraphs of this communiqué.

  • We need to make a national commitment to bringing teaching and professional development resources online as open content. New Zealand-based efforts such as the Wiki Educator (http://wikieducator.org) are doing this already and can provide a framework, but additional efforts are needed to bring these critical materials online in ways that will allow them to be easily shared, adapted, and replicated. Additional materials that should be part of New Zealand’s open content repositories are the outcomes of key meetings such as the Wellington Summit, and follow on projects linked to the Horizon Report.
  • We should champion Creative Commons licensing for educational resources. New Zealand has a number of experts in this arena, and should look for ways to use them to help educators to understand how to effectively license materials so that they can be shared and reused easily. A number of shared national repositories already exist, but content needs to be clearly licensed for reuse and repurposing.
  • We need to leverage existing national resources such as the KAREN research network and other New Zealand projects of significance, and to document such applications. Work is needed to help campus constituencies see how to make effective use of advanced tools like these, and to understand how they are currently being used.
  • More strategic forecasting is needed both within and across educational institutions. Strategic technology forecasting efforts are essential in understanding both the opportunities and the challenges related to leveraging emerging technologies. One such effort is already underway in the tertiary sector by the Distance Education Association of New Zealand (DEANZ), looking ahead for the five years through 2016.
  • We need to make it easy for institutions to have conversations around emerging technologies. A number of influential New Zealand groups and organizations are already working in the area of emerging technology. A national conversation could be greatly added via easy access to resources such as slide decks, commentary essays, and webinars focusing on a variety of perspectives. At the top of the list of needed resources are especially those that make it easy to see how emerging technologies are being successfully applied in New Zealand.
  • We need to encourage research that looks at all sides of emerging technologies, including research that articulates cautions. It is very important that research into new ideas and technologies include efforts that will ensure a balanced perspective.


As noted at the outset, twenty-three timely, achievable action steps were identified in the process of identifying these listed here. Many were deemed to be so actionable that they found immediate sponsorship with the group. Among them was a broad agreement that participants would begin sparking a larger conversation by briefing their local constituencies. Representatives of a number of important national groups agreed to engage their audiences as well, including the Industry Training Forum, the Education Sector ICT Standing Committee, Digital NZ, ACSILITE, ACODE, and HERDSA. ACODE and the NMC agreed to work towards an annual summit on the general topic of emerging technologies, and the NMC committed to devising a means to showcase promising or successful New Zealand efforts in the application of emerging technology via the Horizon Project Navigator platform, and finding ways to facilitate ongoing conversations like the one that took place in Wellington, perhaps in an online setting.

One point was clear throughout the summit: the task of keeping education relevant in a rapidly changing world is complex, and the road to change long. Institutions move incrementally, by degree, and it must become a much bigger part of our culture to embrace our collective knowledge and wisdom. We must begin to recognize the utility and value of new ideas, of new tools, and of the new roles being made possible via the network and social media.

Most of all, we must encourage thoughtful engagement with emerging technologies at all levels of education, across the breadth of New Zealand.