DigiAwards share the spirit of innovation, community, and inclusivity
Schools in our eastern suburb communities suffered terribly from the 12,500 earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. They were still struggling in 2013. Some very special people responded by transforming teaching and learning in Bexley, Bromley, Linwood, Richmond, Aranui, New Brighton, Burwood and Shirley. The result was the first DigiAwards.
On the 10th anniversary, find out what DigiAwards means to us and our hopes for the future of digital creativity.
Celebrating community responses to crisis
In 2013, liquefaction, sludge that squirted up through the roads, was an ongoing environmental challenge in our eastern suburb communities. Families were living in cracked and buckled homes with broken water supplies. The streets were regularly flooded.
“With no power, water, sewers, navigable roads, telephones, accessible shops or internet access (largely due to broken underground cables) life was, and in 2013 still is, very difficult for the eastern suburb communities. Life on the other side of town had been relatively unchanged creating a sense of a tale of two cities. In addition, the eastern suburbs worst affected areas were also the poorest and housed most of the Māori and Pasifika communities of Christchurch.” (The Pegasus Digital Devices Project, 2014).
Schools in our eastern suburb communities were “facing mergers and closures and the community was concerned for the wellbeing and education of students living in the area”. (The Pegasus Digital Devices Project, 2014).
The Greater Christchurch School Network (GCSN) and CORE (now known as Tātai Aho Rau Core Education) formed The Pegasus Digital Devices Project; “...a community response to this crisis and the plea from teachers and family, whānau, and āiga who said: ‘we do not want our kids to be left behind’ (FI).” (The Pegasus Digital Devices Project, 2014).
GCSN secured funding to:
- restore wireless networks to schools
- provide a total of 600 digital devices to Aranui School, Avondale School, Freeville School, New Brighton Catholic School, North New Brighton School, Parkview School, South New Brighton School, St James School, Wainoni School, Burwood School, Central New Brighton School
- provide a year of mentoring for teachers from each school to support learning on a school-wide scale.
Read The Pegasus Digital Devices Project report in the additional resources to find out more.
Celebrating inclusivity in the first DigiAwards
The first DigiAwards in 2013 was run on a volunteer basis. It was important to celebrate the positive learnings from teacher mentoring during The Pegasus Digital Devices Project.
‘It was about coming together with family, whānau and aiga for a celebration. And indeed the community came together. The hall was packed with over 500 people (families, teachers and students) who were there to enjoy the children’s work. The schools mixed and celebrated each other’s successes along with that of their students (TJF).’ (The Pegasus Digital Devices Project, 2014).
Students were invited to enter their best work in five categories:
- digital photo
- photo essay
- book trailer
- short movie
- celebrating their community.
Many students entered images of earthquake damage, highlighting the serious issues our eastern suburb communities were still facing.
According to The Pegasus Digital Devices Project report, ‘It turned out to be really important for the community.’
Amplifying innovation and diversity 10 years later
Since then, DigiAwards has become a stage for ākonga to amplify their innovation and celebrate their diversity.
To mark the 10th anniversary, the 2023 DigiAwards 2023 were guided by the inspiring whakataukī from Te Mātaiaho | The Refreshed New Zealand Curriculum:
Ko pohewa, ko auaha ngā ara ki ao hou
Creativity and imagination transport us to new worlds
Entries can be any form of digital project – in the past, this has included videos, websites, coded apps or games, commercials, Minecraft designs, or VR – and more. The opportunities are endless.
"DigiAwards isn't just a competition; it's a transformative force. The entries have not only demonstrated exceptional creativity but have also left a lasting impact on ākonga, fostering a sense of belonging and pride” says Steve Wakefield, GCSN Chairperson.
To better profile mātauranga Māori entries, DigiAwards offered a new entry category in 2023, “Entries sharing mātauranga Māori”. Entries celebrated pūrākau, voyaging, first encounters, waiata, te reo Māori, and Matariki.
“DigiAwards encourages ākonga as storytellers, makers, and creators. DigiAwards has also sought to address inequities by actively encouraging and valuing diversity through language, culture and identity. It has specifically aimed to uphold and model Te Tiriti honouring practice by growing awareness and celebration of biculturalism. This has been a journey over the last ten years,” Helen Cooper from Tātai Aho Rau says.
At the celebration event this year, we acknowledged Jane Clifford from Te Māhuri Mānuka Hornby Primary School for supporting ākonga with the entry Te Waihora me Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū | The creation of Te Waihora & the Banks Peninsula. Jane emailed Te Taumutu Rūnanga for permission to use their pūrākau. Their animated movie has been placed on Te Taumutu Rūnanga website (member's area).
Cheryl Doig, a futurist from Grow Waitaha, says “It's magnificent to see the diversity of kura/schools entering the DigiAwards. It is clear to see that context is celebrated and mana whenua cherished.”
“There is nothing better than seeing five-year-olds skipping onto the stage beaming from ear to ear and older primary-age learners exhibiting a huge sense of pride in their mahi”, Cheryl says.
Te toa whakaihuwaka Overall winner 2023
The year 0–2 class at Knights Stream School won the overall winner award for their entry Anei ngā tohu huarere based on their inquiry into huarere/weather. Kaiako Catherine Mackenzie described their entry:
‘The first part of our project involved learning new kupu and the sentence structures in te reo Māori and practising sharing ngā tohu huarere each day in class. Next, we became experts in producing podcasts in GarageBand. We learnt how to record our voices, add voice effects, sound effects, and music and how to edit our podcasts. For one week, we played a full weather report for each day over the speaker system at our kura. This was a big hit with tamariki around the kura and they would be excitedly anticipating each day’s podcast from Pūrekireki FM. For the second part of our project, we learnt how to use Green-screen to develop weather reports in te reo Māori and used digital artworks that we created in Tayasui Sketches School as our weather icons…Our website shares our podcast, news studio footage and our app prototype for teaching others.’
Te toa tuarua mātāmua First overall runner-up 2023
Charlie won the First overall runner-up award with his game Tane and the Baskets of Knowledge. Charlie described his game:
“Tane's Baskets of Knowledge is based on the Māori myth of the three kete. As a developing programmer, it is important for me to always be expanding my knowledge. This story shows the importance of the pursuit of knowledge. Tane climbs a mountain and faces many challenges to retrieve knowledge for his village because he knows how important it is. I chose this kind of game (rpg or role-playing game) because it matches the theme of "Creativity and imagination can transport us to other worlds". An rpg can take you to many worlds role-playing as the character and showing whole towns or forests to make you feel like you're in whole new places. This game could inspire other kids to learn more about Māori myths and/or their history.”
Te toa tuarua mātāmuri Second overall runner-up 2023
A group of year 5–6 ākonga from Bromley school won second overall runner-up with their entry, Toro Ōtautahi. They described their entry:
‘Toro Ōtautahi is about celebrating and recognising Ōtautahi as a very special place. We believe the project fits the theme, ‘Ko pohewa, ko auaha ngā ara ki ao hou,’ by encouraging others to share our enjoyment in learning about Ōtautahi by really exploring and interacting with the city. The purpose was to develop a highly engaging, creative, and hands-on adventure that would connect people to our city and identity. This includes significant landmarks and stories from our past, as well as sites of more recent importance to our local communities. Students selected twelve locations to include in our digital scavenger hunt, researched them, formulated clues, and then incorporated these as hidden places to discover around Ōtautahi within an easy-to-use app prototype in Apple Keynote that they developed. In addition to the app itself, ākonga have put a lot of effort into the production value of a trailer movie for Toro Ōtautahi, explaining what it is about and how to use the app. This included travelling to many sites around our city, planning and storyboarding all of our own footage on the ground and in the air, collaboratively editing our movie, and putting together a website as a home platform for the trailer movie and the app. On the website, there is also an interactive digital map that reveals all locations and an infographic with more details about how this project was developed. “So gather your research skills and creativity, organise a team, and let the adventure begin…”’
Te tohu māhuri tōtara Best newcomer 2023
This year the award went to The Journey by St James School. They described their entry:
‘We wanted our entry to be reflective of the journey our ancestors took to reach the shores of Aotearoa using the resources they had at the time to do so. Our story tells our journey and the tools we use currently to help navigate and tell our journey, our story.’
Supporting communities that care
If you’re reading this from a different region or are moved to respond to a community in crisis, read the full The Pegasus Digital Devices Project report or this extract for ways to support school communities:
- "Find out what is important to students.
- Encourage students to work on issues that are important to them.
- Work with students on some community projects.
- Plan a community event – with the community.
- Share learning with the community (e.g. online, evenings).
- Invite the community to be part of the school."
Top tips for kaiako
- The GCSN Board says, “To kaiako, we recommend embracing the boundless creativity of your ākonga. Encourage them to explore, experiment, and use digital technologies as a canvas for their imagination. Your guidance shapes the future innovators of Aotearoa."
- Helen Cooper says, “If you don't feel you have the expertise to grow your learners' capabilities to share and express their learning through digital technologies, ASK. There is support available. Don't hesitate to be a learner alongside your students.
- Helen Cooper also says, “Start early – give yourself and ākonga the time to brainstorm ideas, plan and implement. It's an amazing opportunity to encourage collaboration - but equally look for individuals for whom digital technologies, gaming or visual art and design might be a personal opportunity and encourage them to share and celebrate what interests them.
- Helen Cooper says, “Put identity, language and culture at the centre – what stories might be told and who can support you? Look for opportunities to potentially work with mana whenua... not for them to help you, but for you to help them to have their stories told and knowledge shared.”
- Nicki Tempero from Tātai Aho Rau says, “Set up the parameters and give the students plenty of time to plan, make iterations, and create. Weave it into what you are already doing rather than having another thing to do. Show the students previous entries of all ages, it might spark ideas. Teach the skills as you go – just in time knowledge”
- You don't have to know everything about the tools, learn together!
An important message for ākonga
Our final tips come from GCSN and speak to ākonga.
“For ākonga, our advice is simple: Your ideas matter, and your digital creations have the power to shape the world. Dive into the DigiAwards with enthusiasm, let your creativity soar, and show the world the incredible impact young minds can make."
Anei ngā tohu huarere by Knights Stream School
Tane and the baskets of knowledge by Charlie
Toro Ōtautahi by Bromley School
The Journey by St James School