As an educator,
my thinking has shifted
a better teacher
to designing better
Marianne Malmstrom is internationally recognised for her pioneering work in creating innovative curricula for an unpredictable and ever-changing world. Her career spans four decades, the first half working as a primary teacher and early childhood administrator. In 2003, The Elisabeth Morrow School created a middle school program and asked Marianne to run their digital technologies lab. It was an exciting but daunting challenge to create a curriculum from scratch with no precedent to follow. Having worked on the school’s digital strategic plan since the mid-'90s, Marianne was well aware of the short shelf-life of most emerging digital technologies as well as the high cost of wrongly predicting the future.
Marianne turned to her students for clues to build a digital technologies program that could withstand constant change. She wanted to learn how they used new technologies outside of school to inform her curricular decisions in school. Little did she know that decision would completely transform her pedagogy. By adopting their tools and mirroring the way they learned in their own space, Marianne discovered that the only way to adapt to constant change is to create space for students to take charge of their own learning.
Marianne learned to be fearless, take risks, look for “real” world connections and follow the learning wherever it led. She forged collaborations with developers and gained a reputation for pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. Above all, she fiercely promoted the importance of student voice and learner agency.
In 2005, Marianne’s students were recognized by New York City’s public television station, WLIW, for ‘Excellent Use of Multimedia in the Classroom’. The New Jersey State Legislature commended her in 2010 for ‘Excellence in Education Leadership’. The National Association of Independent Schools named her “Teacher of the Future” in 2011.
Based on her original curriculum using multiplayer games to foster civil and safe practices within online communities, Marianne was invited to advise on the Born This Way Foundation launch in 2012. The Director of Minecraft Education invited her to Microsoft’s first Minecraft symposium in 2015 to share her perspective regarding the learning potential of the game. Marianne was the first educator to host a schoolwide 24/7 server starting in 2011. Her students garnered worldwide recognition for their cutting-edge projects over the next four years.
In 2016, Marianne moved to New Zealand to continue exploring innovative learning practices related to New Zealand's unique National Curriculum. Current projects include; leading a curriculum learning group on agency & accountability, redesigning student assessment based on NZ Key Competencies and developing a hackathon model for intermediate students. Additionally, Marianne created The MiniDevs, a unique program developed in collaboration with Jim Taylor, Emerging Technologies Architect from Theta Innovation Lab. The MiniDevs are students who work with Theta developers to inform and refine the design of Mixiply, a digital platform for creating mixed reality content.