Ngā Whenu Ranga Tahi : drawing from Māori principles of wellbeing : transforming online synchronous teaching and learning of Te Reo Māori

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Theses / Dissertations
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Doctor of Philosophy
University of Canterbury
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Karaka-Clarke, Te Hurinui Renata

Advances in technology have had a major impact on the teaching methodologies employed by the tertiary sector. As a result, tertiary institutions are evolving to meet the needs of their modern day students and those in rural locations. A prediction that technology would “become ever more interwoven into the fabric of academic life” (Glenn, 2008) has a mere eight years later become a reality. The use of online technologies such as Adobe Connect, Echo 360, Skype and Zoom to provide distance education opportunities is now common place and allow for the online teaching of te reo Māori (Māori language). There are numerous advantages that technology provides including lower costs, accessibility and flexibility.

Flexibility is one of the greatest attractions for studying online offering the ability to study whilst continuing to meet personal commitments outside of the academic world. However, for the distance language learner required to engage in synchronous (in real time with on campus face to face classes) online programmes, the flexibility of technology can also be a disadvantage. In a study conducted by Daneshdoust and Keshmiri hagh (2012) it was found that the development of the target language in students who did not participate was somewhat slower compared with those students who did. It also meant that in asynchronous classes students did not have the luxury to draw upon facial expression, body language or nuance to help with understanding. Enriching the form of internet learning to attain maximum student engagement in online synchronous te reo Māori programmes is an issue which this thesis seeks to address.

This research proposed to discover how teachers and lecturers can create more engaging online synchronous language classes for distance students of te reo Māori. It endeavoured to find ways and methods of replicating and simulating the wairuatanga (spiritual connectedness, sense of empathy, ambience or presence) that is present in face to face classroom interactions, in the online environment. The motivation for conducting this research arises from my own forays delving into the world of using technology to deliver teaching and learning programmes online. In my dealings in this area I have found it difficult to establish the same level of relationship and connectedness with my online students as I have with my face to face students. Indeed, one of the main reasons for pursuing a synchronous environment was to attempt to use the energy produced in the face to face class to radiate into the online environment. This strategy has met with mixed success. Indeed, this research takes on more importance as consideration is given to offering a distance option for The University of Canterbury’s flagship Māori immersion and bilingual teaching programme, Hōaka Pounamu.

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