Learners and Mobile Devices

Developing a metaphoric framework aligning Kaupapa Māori principles to elearning good practice

Stephanie DayDonna FoxallMichael Verhaart


In 2011, The Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) merged with Tairāwhiti Polytechnic. In order to offer higher-level studies to students at the Tairāwhiti campus, EIT developed several programs to be delivered in a blended learning mode. For some programs, this meant that students' learning occurred in both face-to-face and online environments.  The proportion of online learning varied depending on the subject matter, but in all cases the online learning formed an integral part of the learning experience. As such, it was necessary for lecturers to both support students and facilitate the learning in this blended environment.
Lecturers who were new to online and blended learning completed the TANZ Online Facilitation course. This course was designed around Salmon’s 5-stage model of e-moderation where the course facilitator supported students during learning activities in order to foster engagement, collaboration and community (Salmon, 2013). This course aimed to put the student at the centre of the learning rather than have them as passive recipients of course material and attempted to model what a good online course looked like. The course was moderately successful in familiarising lecturers with the technologies of online learning and to start thinking about the types of student activity they could include in their courses but less successful in embedding good facilitation practices and the lecturers needed support and guidance in this from EIT’s Education Advisors for some time after.
In 2013, an evaluation of the blended offering revealed that some students were dissatisfied with the level of support and guidance they received in the online components of their courses. This feedback, along with development of new higher level programs for blended meant that it was timely to revisit how the importance of support, guidance and facilitation within online courses was communicated to staff and how they could be supported to develop their own skills. At about the same time, the Tertiary Education Strategy was being formulated and this set out the NZ Government’s tertiary strategic direction for 2014 - 2019. This included a priority area focusing on boosting achievement of Māori and Pasifika learners by encouraging TEOs to develop strategies to better engage Māori. This included greater support for language, tikanga and culturally responsive teaching practices (MoE, 2014).
During this time, the School of Health and Sports Science and the School of Computing were developing postgraduate level programs that were to be delivered in a blended or online mode. The Masters in Health Science in particular required a multicultural and multidisciplinary approach to teaching that not only included multicultural content, but also used culturally inclusive pedagogies. As part of developing these courses for online and blended delivery, the online course templates integrated tactics reflecting kaupapa Māori values within the design. This was a simplistic approach that attempted to include a course philosophy of inclusion, support and community by aligning the values and principles with guiding strategies and tactics.
There is historical evidence of these values being included within the Bachelor of Nursing degree, where in the late 1980’s, senior students buddied with junior students to provide a holistic model of support. Today this continues with the engagement of Tuakana-Teina (older-younger) relationships where undergraduate Māori nursing students can engage with Māori Registered Nurses. This relationship can be peer-to-peer; younger to older, older to younger or able to less able and offers support and mentorship, and is specific in a Māori pedagogical context (Hawkes Bay District Health Board, 2015). Although this practice is limited to one program, it is recognized that similar relationships can be encouraged within online learning and teaching and the design template was created with the intent of these relationships in mind.  
However, developing a template does not ensure those teaching or facilitating the courses have an understanding of what this means within the context of applying these values in their online courses and teaching practice. To this end, this paper explores several existing metaphoric pedagogical frameworks align these to kaupapa Māori principles and online facilitation good practice.  It seeks to answer the question “Can a metaphoric framework be developed that aligns kaupapa Māori principles and values with elearning good practice?”
The authors of this paper approach the research question from several perspectives. One author's role is to work with academic staff to develop online and blended courses where the primary focus is to provide pedagogically sound courses that encourage student engagement and promote teacher-learner and learner-learner interaction and activity. This author is also responsible for staff development in online and blended learning processes and pedagogies. The second author is a lecturer in the Bachelor of Nursing program, is the key contact person for the Tuakana-Teina initiative with the District Health Board, and is an advocate and practitioner of incorporating kaupapa Māori values within courses. The final author approaches this from a teaching perspective, where as a lecturer in IT at the postgraduate level, included the initial design principles in his courses when they were first introduced. This author also has teaches on the Diploma of Tertiary Learning and Teaching program where pedagogies, course design and good practice is modelled and introduced to new teaching staff.

Brief Literature Review

The following literature review will first consider kaupapa in Māori education; outline student success factors in online and blended learning, and investigates existing a selection of metaphor and frameworks.

Kaupapa Māori in Education 

Mane (2009) describes kaupapa Māori as the conceptualization of Māori cultural values, language and views and represents the individual and collective Māori worldview as it works towards well-being and positive outcomes for all. kaupapa Māori emerged in the 1970’s and 1980’s at a time of change when Māori were considering their place in society, the implications of Te Tiriti o Waitangi was being considered in areas of health and education and Māori worldview was being recognised as important in Māori achievement (Durie, 2012).
Smith (1990) identified the following principles of kaupapa Māori that sit within the context of education: 
Although this list is not definitive, it forms a basis on which to begin framing the principles in terms of the interpersonal communications that occur in an online or blended learning environment. Tiakiwai and Tiakiwai (2010) in a report to the Ministry of Education, “A Literature Review focused on Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and e-Learning in the Context of Te Reo Māori and Kaupapa Māori Education” noted that there was an “over emphasis on content development as the centre of practice and under emphasis on context and learner experience” (p. 3), further reinforcing the importance of interpersonal communication and focus on the learner journey.

Course facilitation

The success of student learning in an online or blended environment depends on two critical interactions. Berge (1995) states these as being the interactions that occur with the learning content, and the interactions that occur with other people. This is often depicted as a model of learner-learner, learner-content, and learner-instructor interactions. The instructor, tutor or online facilitator often fulfills several roles within the context of the learner-instructor interactions, and Berg categorised these under four role headings; pedagogical, social, managerial and technical, each having its own set of requirements. The pedagogical role involves facilitating the learning content, the social role contributing to relationship building and developing collaboration and cooperation, the managerial role organising tasks, setting rules and timetables and the technical role assisting with the technology. Salmon (2002) developed a 5-stage framework that guides the tutor through supporting students and facilitating learning by taking on various roles at critical times during the course progression. Initial efforts involve familiarisation and support with the technology and outlining course expectations, fulfilling the social and managerial roles. The pedagogical role evolves from these initial efforts of introduction and socialisation, through to interaction with the content and each other where the students become more responsible for their own learning. The various role responsibilities are not independent, but intertwine and each appearing more prominent at different stages of the course. Garrison and Vaughn (2008) also focus on the interpersonal relationships within a course and further expand on the social and cognitive roles of the online facilitator. They stress the importance of developing and sustaining a student centred online community by “shifting from initial efforts at open communication to nurturing purposeful cohesive responses” as “group cohesion is necessary for students to engage in discourse and collaborative activities” (p. 93). These authors all identified learner-instructor interpersonal communication as critical in supporting student learning and developing and supporting the online learning community where students engage and feel valued as part of the group.


The use of metaphor to provide a different way of thinking or redefining a reality to create meaning has been a part of many cultures around the world. St. Clair (2000) describes metaphor as an analogy, “where two things are compared to each other” and “allows knowledge to be seen in a new perspective” (p.85). Gregory (2009) has explored how Māori have used metaphor to convey cultural ideas and the various use of metaphor when talking about a pathway to understanding.  The pathway is often represented by using a waka (canoe) analogy, “Informants speak of either getting onto the canoe, piki/eke ki runga i te waka, and/or heading their canoe in a forward direction, ahu whakamua, or in a straight line, haere tika' (King, 2003). The waka analogy has been used in: 
Other metaphoric models or analogies include the Pōwhiri Poutama framework, developed by Paraire Huata in 1997 (Drury, 2007). This model is based on the powhiri or welcoming to the Marae ritual and the steps to higher learning and achievement symbolised by the poutama, the commonly used stairway design seen in woven panels and mats. The Pōwhiri Poutama model has been used in both numeracy and literacy and teaching and learning and in each case the model represents the stair casing or scaffolding of learning and development.
Durie (1998) developed the Te Whare Tapa Wha holistic health model, and this has been used extensively not only in health but has been applied widely in education. The symbol of the wharenui (house) illustrates how the four corners of a house must be balanced to achieve wellbeing, psychological health (te taha hinengaro), spiritual health (te taha wairua), physical health (te taha tinana) and family health (te taha whanau) must be balanced and strong. Applied in an educational context, the students must believe in themselves, know they have the support they need, know they have the resources they need and know they can cope with the demands of learning (Hay & Campbell, 2012).
The wharenui has also been used as a metaphoric model, He Whare Ako, He Whare Hangarau (A house of learning, a house of technologies) depicting the “relationship between ako and mLearning and engages a range of pedagogies that are culturally responsive and that are open to the affordances of technologies” (Sciascia & Aguayo, 2015). This framework was developed for the Ako Aotearoa #NPF14LMD project, Learners and Mobile Devices and be applied not only in the mlearning context for which it was developed, but also in the context of elearning as a recognised learning space that is inclusive of technologies.
Although many models exist, the waka and Powhiri Poutama models in particular can be used to describe the progression or journey of an online or blended learning student and is fitting in the cultural context of Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Proposed Framework 

This paper proposes the use of a metaphoric framework to help online facilitators and online students understand the roles, expectations and journey through an online or blended course. Various frameworks already exist, such as that of Williams, Broadley and Te-Aho (2012), where Kaupapa Māori principles and tikanga (practice) guides student - teacher engagement and relationships, particularly in the early childhood education sector. These can be adapted and applied in a tertiary online or blended learning environment and be further enhanced with the use of metaphor.
The underpinning philosophy within the proposed framework is based on effective interpersonal communication, kaupapa Māori values and evidence based effective online facilitation practices. The following table outlines those principles and tikanga adopted by various blended learning programs within EIT during the early stages of 2013 and form the basis on which to develop further.

Guiding Values

Kaupapa Māori PrincipleTikangaTactics
Tino Rangatiratanga
(Self Determination)
Students work both autonomously and in relationships with other students. They feel competent in their study.
  • Share aspirations
  • Provide variety of individual and group work
  • Scaffold the learning
  • Allow for self determined project work
(Hospitality, growing and nurturing respectful relationships)
Reduce anxiety by providing a safe environment and accurate and timely information and support is provided. Diversity is valued and continual improvement sought.
  • Provide a course orientation
  • Provide online introductions/ mihi
  • Include accessible course information
  • Provide assessment information and rubrics upfront
  • Provide clear and accurate timetable
  • Have an open door policy – allow students to make contact in a variety of ways and provide expected response times for each
  • Provide online help
  • Celebrate success
  • Include share your fears discussion activity
  • Set ground rules and expectations
  • Allow for reflective practice (journals, blogs, portfolio)
Ako Māori
(Culturally preferred pedagogies)
Acknowledging teaching and learning practices unique to Māori
  • Active learning
  • Constructivism
  • Teaching/learning two way relationship
  • Mentoring
Whanau and Whanaungatanga
(the extended family and relationships)
Whanau support study
Whanau/hapu/iwi demands are recognised
Group collaboration
Community of Practice
  • Encourage study groups, facebook groups peer networking
  • Provide opportunity for group work, allow self selected groups
  • Acknowledge importance of whanau, share family experiences
  • Tuakana/Teina Senior students and new students sharing and teaching each other.
  • Involve whanau and community
  • Noho Marae

Developing the Metaphoric Framework

Gilly Salmon’s 5-Stage ModelPossible fit of analogies/metaphorTikanga
(Guiding Principles for tutor)
Stage 1: Access and Motivation
  • Accessing the system
  • Welcome and Encouragement
Pōwhiri Poutama
  • Whakatau (administration)
  • Where are we going
  • Establishing direction
  • Roles and responsibilities
Reduce anxiety by providing a safe environment and accurate and timely information.
Provide technical and learning support.
  • Mihi/welcome activity
  • Provide accurate course, help and assessment information,
  • Provide rubrics
Stage 2: Online Socialisation
  • Developing community
  • Familiarisation and providing bridges between cultural, social and learning environments
Pōwhiri Poutama
  • Whakatau (establish relationships)
  • Whakapuaki (identify issues)
  • Creating supportive environment
  • Ensuring everyone comfortable with their place
  • Recognition of individual strengths
Continue to assist in the development of community and reduction of anxiety. Get to know students; students get to know each other. Develop support networks. Identify and attend to any issues
  • Noho Marae (if available)
  • Provide an online orientation
  • Provide opportunity for student sharing of aspirations and fears
  • Acknowledge family/whanau
  • Provide online help
  • Encourage Social Media (Facebook)
  • Identify students not participating (intervention)
Stage 3: Information Exchange
  • Facilitating learning tasks
  • Supporting learning
Pōwhiri Poutama
  • Whakapuaki (identifying issues)
  • Whakatangitangi (unpacking issues)
  • Whakaratarata (strategies and timeframes)
  • Allowing change of place
  • Recognition of individual strengths
  • Benefits of teamwork
Recognition of the knowledge and strengths each student brings to the course. (Ako)
Support formation of groups, support individual learners Introduce and facilitate learning with a high level of support
  • Provide feedback regularly
  • Introduce group work
  • Support individual work
  • Encourage student led discussion and activities
Stage 4: Knowledge construction
  • Facilitating
Pōwhiri Poutama
  • Whakaratarata (strategies and timeframes)
  • Whakaoranga (implementing)
  • Moving forwards
  • Progress
  • Working together with a common goal/ teamwork
Encourage and support groups, offer guidance, continued feedback and encouragement.
  • Provide peer to peer activities
  • Encourage collaborative group work
  • Provide individual tasks that contribute to the group
Stage 5: Development
  • Supporting
  • Responding
Pōwhiri Poutama
  • Whakaoranga (implementing)
  • Whakaotinga (closure)
  • Reaching the destination
  • Completion
  • Reflecting on journey
Acknowledging growth of students, reflective opportunities, provide for students to celebrate their successes.
Closure of the course.
  • Provide reflective opportunities
  • Provide opportunities to apply learning in real world situations
  • Complete projects
Consultation is underway across EIT to ensure the appropriateness of the underpinning philosophies before developing into the metaphoric framework. Gilly Salmon’s (2002) 5-stage model provides the proven practice base on which to pin a framework and align possible metaphor with guiding values, tactics and available elearning tools.  Both the Powhiri Poutama analogy (Huata, 1997) and the waka journey analogy (King, 2003) have been considered in this instance as a possible fit. Both these models have been, and are already being used by a small number of lecturers across the institute.


There are many models, frameworks and metaphor that are based on kaupapa Māori principles and values that can be aligned to recognised elearning good practice. This paper briefly describes several models and aligns two of these, the Powhiri Poutama model and the waka analogy to the 5-stage model of good online facilitation designed by Salmon (2002). It is suggested that these models provide a sound basis of guiding kaupapa Māori principles and values that can be easily applied to a tertiary education online course or program using the suggested tikanga and tactics. When viewed through an online lens, these provide both the online facilitator and student a pathway through the learning that is supportive, responsive and engaging.
In preparing this paper, the authors hope that others will use this preliminary investigation and initial ideas as a basis to develop their own frameworks, structures and metaphor that support kaupapa Maōri principles and values in the online course development and delivery process. By incorporating and implementing kaupapa Māori principles and practices within online learning, educators help to provide an environment that contribute to increased online student support, engagement, shared understanding and community, and ultimately a possible improvement in educational achievement for Māori.


The authors would like to acknowledge the following:
Luke Rowe, Lecturer, Postgraduate Maori Health for the explanation and practical example of using the Powhiri Poutama model in an online course.
Tuhakia Keepa, Director Māori – Poutāhu, EIT, for his review of the document, consideration and support.


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