Experiences and reflections of teachers on the use of mixed reality technologies to foster cross-curricular learning opportunities

Funding year: 
1 year
University of Canterbury
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2020
Project end date: 
March 2021
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Kathryn MacCallum
Research team members: 
Kay Le Comte, Strahan Winchester, Andrew Lessard, Paul Sandkuijl, and Vanessa Fraser
Research partners: 
University of Canterbury, Tamatea High School and Napier Girls High School


Introduction/project description

This pilot action research project is a teacher-driven investigation into how innovative technologies can support cross-curriculum teaching. The study adopts a participatory design and research methodology to explore teachers’ experiences of how mixed reality (MR) can be incorporated across STEAM domains to drive diverse learning outcomes. The focus is to explore how creative digital technologies can help bridge the divide between digital technologies and other subject areas and focus on developing new learning opportunities that draw on a range of values, skills and learning through the development and creation of digital artefacts in authentic contexts. 


The primary research question driving the project is: How can digital technologies, specifically mixed-reality (MR) tools, be adopted to facilitate learning across the curriculum? The study will explore the experiences and reflections of teachers on integrating MR to support and embed learning outcomes across subjects. The focus will be on how creative technologies can move the integration of digital tools beyond consumption towards creation and draw on a range of learning outcomes, including those related to the new curriculum areas. The study will be guided by the specific progress outcomes / whakatupuranga of Digital Technologies / Hangarau Matihiko but also focus on drawing in other learning outcomes across different areas of the curriculum, in particular those within STEAM domains.

Why is this research important?

The integration of digital skills across the curriculum has been shown to provide improved engagement and outcomes for all students. The integration of these digital skills within domain subjects, however, has largely focused on students being consumers of digital tools rather than developing their own. Driving learning through artefact creation can draw in a wider set of learning outcomes, but this requires a more complex set of skills and competencies from both teachers and learners. This research will focus on how we can better support and guide teachers on effective ways in which digital skills can be integrated across disciplines. This pilot will establish a framework, which will help other teachers explore and develop their own practice. 

What we plan to do

The study will adopt a participatory action research (PAR) design research which will enable teachers to design and research their own practice and collaborate with other teachers across subject disciplines in their schools. The teachers in the study will be given autonomy to integrate the technology in a manner that suits their subject and students’ needs. A collective, self-reflective inquiry will be undertaken to understand and improve upon their practice.

The study will draw on qualitative data collection techniques to develop, explore and share the approach and reflections of the teachers involved in the study. Through analysis of this data the study will identify the impact, issues and barriers for MR for cross-curricular teaching. Alongside these reflections, written scenarios (case studies) will be developed to serve as showcases encapsulating the different practices of the schools within and between disciplines and explore the affordances and barriers that are encapsulated through the use of digital technology within the curriculum.

Our partners

University of Canterbury, Tamatea High School and Napier Girls High School.

Contact details 

Name: Dr Kathryn MacCallum
Associate Professor of Digital Education Futures
School of Educational Studies and Leadership (EDSL) | (Te) Kura Mātauranga me te Rangatiratanga
The College of Education, Health and Human Development | Te Rāngai Ako me te Hauora
Phone: +64 3 3692933, Ext 90081
Email: Kathryn.maccallum@canterbury.ac.nz