Saturday, 12 January 2019

Rewindable learning - what, why, and how.

As whānau you may occasionally hear the phrase 'rewindable learning. You will also hear from us frequently on the advantages for your tamariki of owning their own Chromebook. We don't ask you to make that investment lightly. Here is some insight into the case for personal ownership  of Chromebooks.

Do you ever remember a time when someone had just explained something to you, and you walked away thinking 'what was that she just said?' Remember that feeling of inadequacy? That feeling that you missed just about everything the explainer/teacher said? I certainly do, and the wish that I could push the 'rewind' button, that I could just have the 'teacher' run that past me again, in my own time, and at my own speed. That's what we call 'rewindable learning.

We ask teachers to maintain web sites, we call them 'Google sites' because we use some special web writing software provided free of charge to schools by Google. These are simply web sites on which teachers place the content of the lessons they deliver, the 'stuff to be learned' for specific lessons.  Often this material includes extra work, extra opportunities to learn, or even alternative explanations for the same material. Because these are web sites, they can be accessed any time the learner chooses, provided she or he has a device that can access the internet, the world wide web. This is what we call rewindable learning, and it is one of the things that makes learning 'ubiquitous'. That means the learning is available any where, any time.

These web sites are maintained on our 'intranet', our own school network, but accessible via the internet at any time that learners are ready to have another go at their learning, or to revise and strengthen their learning.

It also allows staff to offer what has become known as 'flip learning'. This is an approach to learning pioneered by Dr Eric Mazur, a Professor of Physics at Harvard University. In its simplest form it involves students learning the content out of class so that class time can be dedicated to solving problems with the 'teacher' and other students present. It is called 'flipped' because it is the opposite of what we have traditionally done, where content is taught in class, and then homework is set requiring students to solve problems on their own.

This is ground breaking stuff.  The impact on student learning is huge, and is one of many many reasons that our Manaiakalani 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy and use of Chromebooks is so important in our work to improve outcomes for our rangatahi. Our staff are expected to maintain these sites to allow our rangatahi to 'rewind their learning' at any time, and to access additional learning resources whenever and wherever they are.

This is why personal ownership of Chromebooks is so important, and perhaps the BEST investment you can make in your child's education.

Robin Sutton


  1. Another great post Robin - thanks for sharing!! I can certainly relate to the feeling of inadequacy and the thought I had missed something at High School. I would have loved to have been able to rewind much of my learning! Loved the Eric Mazur video ... think I am going to rewind a few times to really absorb it!

  2. Thank you Robin, a really great post to share with whānau.
    It is so important to unpack and communicate to our parents about what actually happens in schools around the use of Chromebooks and iPads. Our parents are bombarded at the start of every year by often unbalanced articles about BYOD device use in schools.
    I will be sharing this blogpost with the Te Ara Tūhura community to help them understand what is actually occurring in a Manaiakalani Outreach 1:1 classroom.
    Once again thank you Robin for your continued sharing of the journey at Hornby High.