In 1981, I packed my bags and headed off to my very first teaching job in Sapporo, Japan. Little did I know that I was taking my first step on what was to be an incredible journey of learning. Nothing could have prepared me for the cognitive dissonance I would experience over the next four decades as I watched emerging technology reshape almost every aspect of our world, with the exception of schools.

In 1991, I took a position as a primary teacher at The Elisabeth Morrow School. Inspired by the progressive philosophy of its founder, and mentored by many phenomenal colleagues, I developed my craft and stretched my understanding of what it meant to be a teacher.


I became driven by the question of how to keep learning relevant in a constantly changing world. My curiosity led me to experiment with how to best leverage digital technology in my classroom. My administrators noticed and asked to step into the position of school technology integrator in 2004. I was both thrilled and daunted by the challenge. How does one develop a curriculum for emerging technologies when there are so many variables?


With no map to follow, I turned to my students for clues on how to design a curriculum fit for purpose. I chose to follow the learning students were doing outside of school in order to inform me how to build a digital technologies program that would be relevant.

What I learned, from my students, made me rethink everything I thought I understood about learning. They taught me to:

  • Let go of the need to teach content and focus on students creating their own content in order to learn. 

  • Trust students' ability to drive their own learning.

  • Co-construct curriculum with students.

  • Ask questions without knowing the answer.

  • Embrace the messiness of real-world problem-solving.

 Those lessons brought me to New Zealand to do a deep dive into the NZC Key Competencies  and the Māori concept of ako, both strong frameworks for a more relevant pedagogy.



“My vision, compared to my students', is so small - 

I wouldn't want to constrain them." 

~ Conor O’Malley, Preservice Teacher,

Madison, Wisconson


Early Childhood

Primary Intermediate

Digital Technology


Curriculum Pioneer

Digital Fluency

Learner Agency

Co-constructed Learning

Game-based Learning

Working with Developers

Online Safety & Citizenship

Digital Media Literacy


Curriculum Innovator

Student-driven Learning

NZCKC Assessment

MiniDevs HackMini

Minecraft Eco Lego Universe

GuildWars 2 Portals 2 LARPs

Virtual Worlds MMORPGs

Multimedia Game design 

Immersive Citizenship

Girls in tech


Play Games



Design & Systems Thinking

Online Citizenship


Follow the Learning

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Curriculum in Action


New Zealand Ministry of Education: Education Gazette:

"Curriculum of awe and wonder"


Feb 27, 2020

Launching Ngā Motu

Microsoft Global Minecraft: Education Edition asked Newlands Intermediate if they could bring a film crew to our school to help launch a Māori world built by Piki Studios. When we got a sneak peek of Ngā Motu, we were so excited that we decided to organize a "HackMini" to give this New Zealand world the world premiere it deserved. As you can see in the video, we all had an absolute blast doing it!

Microsoft Global Minecraft: Education Edition

“Ngā Motu: Explore Māori Culture with Minecraft”

Sept  09, 2019


TVNZ 1 News

"Minecraft builds Māori world for Kiwi kids to explore language and culture"

Sept 09, 2019

New Zealand Ministry of Education: Education Gazette:

"Navigating Te Ao Māori in the digital universe"


Nov 22, 2019

NZCER Set Journal:
Special Issue
Learning Through Play and Games

"Play, games and culture: How games transformed my pedagogical practice"

Journal issue: SET 2018: no. 3

Author: Marianne Malmstrom

Road to New Zealand


In 2015, I travelled through New Zealand visiting a variety of schools and makerspaces. I wanted to learn how educators and institutions were interpreting the NZ National Curriculum. I was especially curious to understand various perspectives regarding the push for Innovative Learning Practices. What I discovered inspired me to return to New Zealand to learn more through immersing myself in the education system.

Newlands Intermediate School offered me that opportunity. Principal, Angela Lowe, tasked me with the challenge to develop a digital technology program that would fill students with awe and wonder. I knew I had landed in the right place because I couldn't imagine a better job description! 

It has been exactly the right place to continue my journey. 

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