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Social sciences

Social sciences and e-learning

Four mechanisms that facilitate effective learning

Effective pedagogy in social sciences/Tikanga ā iwi best evidence synthesis (BES)  identifies four mechanisms that facilitate learning for diverse students in social sciences.

Each of these BES mechanisms provides a lens to examine current practice. Each is backed by evidence to inform what to do next.

  1. Connection – make connections to students’ lives.
  2. Alignment – align experiences to important outcomes.
  3. Community – build and sustain a learning community.
  4. Interest – design experiences that interest students.

Planning to use ICTs – questions to think about

  • Consider your social sciences programme – how are the four BES mechanisms reflected?
  • In what ways are you using e-learning to embed the BES mechanisms into your social sciences programme?
  • How are you ensuring that the ICTs you use suits the diverse learners in your school context?

Combining effective pedagogy and digital technologies

Students need to be aware of how different perspectives influence social science thinking and actions, and that two different, even competing accounts, may be valid. Encourage students to reflect on what they encounter. All sources need to be examined. 

Video allows students to examine different perspectives by listening to authentic voices and experiences, from the past and present. It can be used to present arguments or perspectives, recreate scenes, or record and reflect on learning.

Video tools
  • Six types of classroom video projects – And 18 video creation tools  – a blog post from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • Tubechop  – a quick and easy way to cut down a YouTube video to only show the small portion appropriate or interesting for a class activity. The program creates a new link teachers can send to students.
  • Global storytelling with a green screen and iPads  – a blog post with practical examples form Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education.
  • eTV  – recorded TV programmes, live streams and on demand videos. Staff and students from educational establishments throughout New Zealand can subscribe to access this unique service.
  • NZ on screen  – NZ television programmes and documentaries collated into collections. 
  • Global oneness project  – a collection of multicultural films, photo essays, and articles that “explore cultural, social, and environmental issues with a humanistic lens.”

Taking students to significant sites, marae, museums, and notable buildings helps to bring learning alive. Students place their learning in real-life contexts and use all their senses to learn about their local area. While visiting and exploring local areas is valuable, some social science contexts may require virtual examination.

Virtual tools
  • Earthly mission  – 3D relief maps, created with data from NASA. 
  • Walking Access Mapping System (WAMS ) – a free-to-use, online tool that displays publicly accessible land across New Zealand to view high quality topographic maps and aerial imagery, overlaid with recreation information provided by partner organisations.
  • Google Maps  and Google Earth  – provide tools for illustrating stories in a geographic context. This video  demonstrates how to use Google Maps and Google Earth Tour Builder.
  • Educators technology  – 20 online museums and sites for classroom virtual field trips.
  • Google Maps scavenger hunt with QR code  – create QR codes using Google Maps and QR Code Generator and then use these to create a digital scavenger hunt. 
  • StatsMaps  – Statistics New Zealand maps including data relating to population, dwellings, and electorates.
Key resource


A free online collection of virtual field trips to locations in New Zealand and Antarctica. The trips take an inquiry-based approach within science, social sciences, and the arts for both primary and secondary schools.

Topical and current events can help students to make connections to the past and enhance the relevance of new learning.

News tools 
  • DOGO News  – current events articles and lessons to share in Google Classroom.
  • CoveritLive  – a social media platform that enables you to share real, virtual, and hybrid events online.

Social action gives greater depth and purpose to student learning. It allows students to use new knowledge and skills, and to explore them within a relevant context.

Social action tools
  • DoSomething.org  – an organisation whose goal is to support the work of young people who want to make a difference in their world. Students browse through a list of campaigns , public education, and activism projects. An American site, which is aimed globally with students from 131 countries, and can inspire New Zealand students to take action in their local area.
  • Guerrilla Geography  – guerrilla geography dares people to challenge preconceptions about places, engage in social and environmental justice, and form deeper, more active community connections. This is a National Geographic website.
  • ePals  – with participants in over 200 countries, this free service allows educators throughout the world to connect with one another in meaningful ways and collaborate. Projects and challenges are available to reinforce the connections made.
  • Global Education Collaborative  – a community for teachers and students interested in global education. Contribute by adding media, conversation, and collaborative project ideas.
  • PenPal schools  – Teachers join for free, and select an online project for students to work on. Students are matched with PenPals from around the world who are their own age. They can collaborate on a variety of online activities.
  • Skype in the classroom  – Free virtual field trips, collaborations, and guest speakers. Search by subject, age group, and location.
Key resource

Future focus in the social sciences

Secondary teacher Richard Brudvik-Lindner explains how he uses a future focus to help students think about their learning in a different way, resulting in improvements in achievement and engagement.

Filter by: Primary Secondary


Students at Ashburton Netherby School used digital technologies to share aspects of their learning.

Tags: Assessment, Social sciences, Multimedia – audio/music/sound, Presentation, Lower primary, Primary

MimioStudio Notebook

Students at Ashburton Netherby School used digital technologies to support an inquiry focused approach to learning.

Tags: Social sciences, Student inquiry, Multimedia – graphics/animation, Presentation, Lower primary, Primary

Movie Maker and PowerPoint

Movie Maker is no longer available from Microsoft. For alternative video editing software see:  

Students at Howick College increased their motivation to learn and their ownership of the learning process by using the multimedia tools Movie Maker and PowerPoint, and other mobile technologies.

Tags: Social sciences, BYOD, iPads, Multimedia – graphics/animation, Multimedia – video, Presentation, Secondary, Upper secondary


Students at Somerville Intermediate School enhanced the presentation of their work about virtues using YouTube.

Tags: Social sciences, Multimedia – video, Primary, Upper primary

Raising student achievement

Polyfest provided Mangere College with the opportunity to re-think curriculum planning and design to improve student achievement results for NCEA.

Tags: English, Learning languages, Science, Social sciences, The Arts, Visual arts, Multimedia – graphics/animation, Multimedia – video, Secondary, Upper secondary


Geocaching was used at Papatoetoe High School to strengthen students’ "learning to learn" capabilities, and deepen teachers’ understandings of effective teaching.

Tags: Cross-curricular, Health and physical education, Social sciences, Utilities/tools/gadgets, Lower secondary, Secondary

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Social studies resources: Multimedia, virtual field trips and webquests

This section has online projects and programmes, virtual field trips, forums, multimedia interactives, digital learning objects, webquests, and some useful websites.

10 Amazing Google geo tools for your classroom

How to use Google geo tools to help students learn about new places, solve problems, and tell stories. 


Six timeline creation tools for students compared: A chart which compares the core features of six online timeline creation tools.


A free online collection of virtual field trips to locations in New Zealand and Antarctica. The trips take an inquiry-based approach within science, social sciences, and the arts for both primary and secondary schools.

Walking Access Mapping System WAMS
A free-to-use, online tool that displays publicly accessible land across New Zealand to view high quality topographic maps and aerial imagery, overlaid with recreation information provided by partner organisations.


Statistics New Zealand maps including data relating to population, dwellings, electorates, etc.

ANZAC Day resources

Nga Tapuwae Gallipoli app
Virtual tours of the Anzac battle locations, historical images, soldiers' stories and practical tips for visiting Gallipoli. Released by the First World War Centenary Programme (WW100).

Anzac Day – Lest we forget
Information and resources to support your classroom learning programme from NZC Online.

Commemorating Anzac Day from home
Even though public Anzac services are unable to go ahead in 2020, the RSA and NZ Defence Force invite people to join virtual commemorations.

What does ANZAC day mean to you?
Stories from New Zealanders sharing their experience of ANZAC collected on the Stuff website.

New Zealand History Online – Anzac Day
Resources, classroom ideas, and a media gallery.

Anzac Day resources
Collated resources to support teaching and learning about ANZAC day from NZ History online.

Returned Services' Association
Historical information and upcoming commemoration events. Messages of remembrance can be left on a virtual remembrance wall.

New Zealand On Screen
This Anzac Day collection brings together over forty titles covering Kiwis at war. Iconic documentaries and films tell stories of terrible cost, heroism, and kinship.

Christchurch City Libraries – Anzac Day
Information about Anzac Day and lists related books, resources, and websites on this children's page from the Christchurch City Libraries website.

First World War inquiry guides and resource packs
Resources to help students in years 1 to 13 gain insights into the First World War. The Ministry of Education, the National Library’s Services to Schools, and the WW100 Programme Office have worked together to develop these resources.

New Zealand WW100
The official New Zealand Government website about World War One commemorations covers local and international commemorative events, encourages the sharing of family stories, and looks in depth at the experiences of New Zealanders during the conflict.

First World War map 
Locate events mentioned in the First World War timeline on this map from New Zealand History Online.

School reading resources

  • Parts 3 and 4 of the June 2014 School Journals  have a focus on the First World War and Part 2 has an article about First World War animal mascots.
  • Junior Journal  number 48 features an article about a tortoise who is a veteran of the First World War.
  • Ready to Read  has teacher support materials and an audio recording of the Ready to Read text Dawn Parade.