Episode #106: Inspiring the Next Generation Leaders, Thinkers, and Problem Solvers with Derek Wenmoth

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

Derek Wenmoth is regarded as one of New Zealand education’s foremost future-focused thinkers, and works extensively with schools and systems in New Zealand and elsewhere as they seek to prepare students for their future. He also consults with policymakers and government agencies regarding the future directions of NZ’s educational policy and practice. 

Derek is currently running FutureMakers, an educational consultancy focused on making our education system more future-focused by inspiring the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and problem-solvers. I was fortunate to spend time with Derek at the 2019 Aurora Institute in Palm Springs, CA, and take this selfie. 
Throughout Derek’s career as a teacher, principal, teacher educator, and education policy advisor, Derek  Wenmoth has followed his passion for creating future-focused education systems, and innovative teaching and learning approaches that place the learner at the center. Derek has particular skills in strategic planning and policy design, with an emphasis on future-focused education, flexible learning, and the role of digital technologies. 
Derek’s background in distance learning
Derek’s special interest in distance education began when he was teaching in rural parts of New Zealand and undertook distance studies through Massey University. He later embarked on a Master’s degree in distance education through Deakin University while lecturing in Educational Technology at the Christchurch College of Education. While working there, Derek established NZ’s first distance pre-service teacher education program. In recognition of this work, he was awarded the Ian Stewart Memorial Award for innovation and leadership in distance education.
In the 1990s, Derek helped establish NZ’s first virtual schooling program in Canterbury and has continued with that interest, working with other clusters that have developed around NZ since then.  Derek developed GlobalNet2000, an online project aimed at increasing the global awareness and participation of young learners in New Zealand, with links to others across the world. In recognition of this work, he was awarded the Peter Brice award from the Pacific Circle Consortium, for achievements fostering inter-cultural understanding.
In 2001 he led a team at the NZ Correspondence School (Te Kura) in pioneering approaches to online learning and also conceived of and led the creation of the Virtual Learning Network, an online course brokerage service for schools in New Zealand that has since become a key part of the Ministry of Education’s eLearning strategy. In recognition of his work as an innovator and educational change-maker, Derek was designated one of 2008’s “Global Six” by the George Lucas Educational Foundation which recognizes individuals making a difference in education. He has been a long service executive member of the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand (FLANZ) and in 2018 was given life membership of that organization in recognition of his contribution to the field.