What is this concept known as Future Focus and what does it mean?

Through conversations this week around future focussed pedagogy and the re-examination of the NZC by our LOLs and SLLs, the idea of “future focus” continues to pop up.

So what exactly does future focus look like?

Really what starts to emerge as you take apart the curriculum and re-examine it, is that subjects should never have been siloed. The separation or isolation of “subject specific” skills seems an almost arbitrary and confining traditionalist concept. It views knowledge as static and ready to be fed to our learners.

As our LOLs have pointed out, there are skills, concepts and overarching foundations of shared knowledge that transcend beyond subject specific areas. The subject then becomes more of a context for learning rather than the sole focus of it.

In the New Zealand Educational arena, a new educational paradigm known as “Future Focussed Pedagogy” or “21st Century learning” is coming to the forefront of policy changes (Ministry of Education, 2007).

Bolstad, Gilbert, McDowall, Bull, Boyd and Hipkins prepared a report in 2012 to examine the challenges associated with developing a nationwide supportive and embeddable philosophical framework that would shape future focussed teaching and learning (Bolstad, et al., 2012).

“What seems clear from all this is that if we think 21st century schooling’s major focus should be to build learning capacity (or “learning power” as Guy Claxton puts it).” (Bolstad et al, 2012, p 38). The late 20th and early 21st century has seen the evolution of the concept of knowledge. Bolstad et al (2012) consider that we are now entering into an era where people are no longer perceived as passive recipients of common knowledge, but that knowledge is as individual as we are and created (Wright, 2010). Students should be encouraged to connect and create their own interconnected and easily accessible schemas of knowledge (Alton-Lee, 2003).

Knowledge has in the past been viewed as static, or something that must be taught to students by an expert or bearer of knowledge (the teacher) (Dyson, 2012). Now, however the focus has shifted. The significant and rapid development of political contexts, economic needs, technology and innovation in all arenas of daily life, has created a “Knowledge Economy” (Claxton, 2002). Mortimer, Farrell & Khan (1997) state that learners need to be able to experience the information first hand and form the process of the learning within their own context (Mortimer, Farrell, & Khan, 1997). Students are now being urged to become as Mundy, Stephens & Dykes (2010) suggest “prosumers” (Dyson, 2012). A Prosumer is a creator and user of knowledge or content (Dyson, 2012). Mobile Learning or m-learning is best suited to promoting and growing this kind of student and provides greater possibilities for capturing the complexities of education (Dyson, 2012).

As Pachler (2010) suggests “learning has become a process” of becoming familiar with and able to work effectively “within and across” constantly shifting and developing contexts, learning spaces and an emerging comprehension of our everyday lives providing rich opportunities to learn (as in Attwell, 2010). Learning is now being viewed as being more mobile, flexible and capable of change. This view of knowledge and learning is considered by Naismith et al (2006) as one of the key benefits of Mobile Learning.

Hayes (2012) suggests that with the fast development in Mobile technology services and infrastructure, the benefits and opportunities for teachers to engage learners with m Learning or to embed it into the curriculum has increased (Hayes, 2012, p. 6). Melhuish & Falloon (2010) suggest that the benefits of m-Learning in the curriculum include; portability and flexibility, affordable and universal access, “just- in-time” situational and relevant learning, connections to others and collaboration and individualised and personalised experiences (Peters, 2009, p 117 as in Meluish and Falloon, 2010, p. 5).

Courtesy of Associate Press – Kristin Murphy

Tomorrow I will be examining the Benefits and Limitations of Mobile Technology in Education.

Further Reading and References:

Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality Teaching for diverse students in schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis. Wellington: Minstry of Education.

APN Educational Media. (2010). Texting to M-Learn. Education Review NZ: ICT and Procurement.

Attwell, G. (2010, November). Research on Mobile Learning. Retrieved from Pontydysgu: Bridge to Learning:


Bolstad, R., & Gilbert, J. (1998). School ICT Innovations: 21st Century learning or digital busywork? Computers in NZ Schools, 10 (3), 3 – 9.

Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., with, McDowall, S., Bull, A., & Boyd, S. (2012). Supporting Future Oriented Learning and Teaching – a New Zealand Perspective. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Claxton, G. (2002). Powerful learners and their learning minds: Developing the mind to learn. In Building learning power: Helping young people to become better learners (pp. 13 – 43). Bristol: TLO.

Cochrane, T. (2010). Exploring mobile learning success factors. ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology, Vol. 18, No. 2,, 133–148.

Cochrane, T. (2012). Secrets of mlearning failures: confronting reality. Supplement: ALT-C 2012 Conference Proceedings (pp. 123-134). Auckland: Centre for Teaching and Learning, Auckland University of Teaching, Auckland, NZ.

Dyson, L. E. (2012). Student-Generated Mobile Learning: A Shift in the Educational Paradigm for the 21st Century. The Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Mobile Learning Group, 15 – 20.

Fletcher, J., & Brooks, D. (2006). What makes for successful integrated use of ICT in a low decile primary school? Set (1), 9 – 14.

Hayes, A. (2012). Reflections: Glass & Mobile Learning. The Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Mobile Learning Group: anzMLearn Transactions on Mobile Learning, 5 – 9.

Kessler, S. (2011). 4 Ways Mobile Tech is Improving Education. Retrieved from Mashable.com: mashable.com/2011/05/04/mobile-education-initiatives/

Livingston, A. (2009). The Revolution No One Noticed: Mobile Phones and Multimobile Services in Higher Education. Educause Quarterly, 32(1).

Melhuish, K., & Falloon, G. (2010). Looking to the future: M-learning with the iPad. . Computers in New Zealand Schools: Learning, Leading, Technology,, 1 – 16.

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. Teachers College Record Volume 108, Number 6 , pp. 1017–1054.

Mortimer, N., Farrell, J., & Khan, B. (1997, December 13). Control of learning implications for web based instruction. Retrieved from http://www.gwu.edu/~etlal2/cohort1/g4.html

Murray, C. (2011). Making the Move to mobile learning. Interface New Zealand.

Naismith, L., Lonsdale, P., Vavoula, G., & Sharples, M. (2006). REPORT 11: Literature Review in Mobile Learning and Technology. Bristol BS1 5UH: Future Labs.

Twiss, T. (2009). Mobile Phones in the Classroom. Education Review.

Wright, N. (2010). e-Learning and New Zealand schools: a literature review. New Zealand: Ministry of Education.


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