Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Inter-connectivity - not just a problem in NZ

The MLE group have spent many hours and dollars on ensuring that SMS's and LMS's can talk to each other and allow content to be easily transferred between the various LMS's. On top of this has been added the desire for student and parent access to LMS and SMS data from home which has spawned the development of the parent portal. This is all new territory for NZ schools, teachers, students and parents, and many of us feel quite overwhelmed by the pressure to embark on a complete overhaul of our school systems to accommodate and implement these new technologies. Well, we are not alone. Have a read of this blog post by Christopher Dawson as he battles to implement inter-connectivity and parent portals in his school district

Monday, 11 January 2010

Predictions about 2010

Just catching up on some blogs and felt that this posting by David Warlick on predictions about 2010 was particularly compelling. While we never really know what is around the corner, it's always exciting to think about the possibilities. Also interesting is Derek Wenmoth's posting on the recent Becta report and the impact of digital technologies on learning. What Derek draws to our attention to is that the advent of ICT is not just a new communication tool but is part of the 21st century cultural revolution. We as teachers need to recognise this fact and understand that the integration of ICT into our teaching lives, for both educational and administrative purposes, is no longer an option and no longer dependent upon buy-in - either buy-in or get out, it's that simple.

Welcome to two new schools

As this blog is about the Volcanics eLearning Community, it seems a good idea to welcome two new members to our community in 2010. They are Melville High School (principal: Clive Hamill) and Rangitahi College (principal: Dawn Mitai-Pehi). I look forward to working with the two new schools and hope they benefit from, and enjoy being part of our community.

2010 - What to expect

Well, 2009 was an incredibly quiet year from a blogging perspective, but a very active year in terms of eLearning. The focus has definitely moved from technology to learning and how to design courses which work well in on line environments - easier said than done. What has not changed is the need to have good technology, and access to it, to ensure that good learning happens through ICT. Therefore the rural broadband investment initiative is an exciting opportunity for schools, which, supported by stage 3 of the schools network upgrade (snup), should see access to ICT and the internet improving. What still needs to happen is for schools to see ICT as a strategic asset and not just a cost centre or hole for money. This is not only because of how it can impact on all aspects of education, but also because of the large investment in the asset and the need to sustain the asset. ICT needs to be considered in the same light as property, and funding accordingly set aside. This means schools integrating ICT into all elements of the strategic plan, which will allow them to set targets against which they can report and measure progress.

With regard to Volcanics, what will we be focussing on in 2010?
  1. Continual drive to fully integrate ICT into schools' strategic plans, which flows through to an annual action plan and on to individual teaching plans and goals.
  2. How ICT can be used to support differentiated teaching and inquiry learning, which will hopefully personlise learning for individual students. Teachers will need support to draw up unit plans and identify useful eLearning tools. They will also need practical ideas and examples on how to implement new approaches and how to measure their effectiveness.
  3. Learning design - developing on-line learning which will meet the needs and expectations of 21st century students. This is especially important for our eTeachers. We will be looking at planning, methodology, practice and tools. This links up with 2 above.
  4. The development of a true community of practice for eTeachers.
  5. Educating and informing students and parents about eLearning and the opportunities that exist for students through the Volcanics eLearning Community and the Virtual Learning Network. This means having information on school websites and regular articles in newsletters.
  6. Continual focus on the development of a learning community within Volcanics which brings together teachers along lines of interest and along curriculum lines. Areas of interest will include inquiry learning, differentiated teaching, behaviour management and classroom management, literacy across the curriculum, learning design and on-line learning environments, cyber-citizenship and formative assessment.
  7. Keeping on top of of the RBI roll-out to ensure that Volcanics schools are represented and given the best opportunity to take up fibre as soon as possible.
  8. Continual membership and development of the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) so that it has a strong national voice which will represent the interests of the Volcanics Community.
So, roll-on 2010 - Heaps to do, but an exciting time for learning

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Now That's what I'm talking about

I have recently linked to "Langwitches - The Magic of Learning Through Technology". Great site. The most recent post It's about reflecting and analysing our teaching practice, really hits the nail on the head when it comes to integrating ICT into our teaching practice. The fact that we use technology is not the issue. The fact that we are able to create engaging and rich learning opportunities which lead to meaningful learning using technology is the issue. Regardless of the tool, or the method, without reflection and analysis of our practice we may as well be using sticks and stones as teaching tools as opposed to ICT. A very clear idea of the learning outcomes is so important as this will impact on unit/lesson construction. The post shows the use of technology in 3 different ways but one way is clearly more engaging, personal and rich compared to the other two. The (now) old phrase "poor teaching + technology = expensive poor teaching" will always hold true. The New Zealand curriculum includes teaching as inquiry as a key component of effective pedagogy. It also includes eLearning as a key component of effective pedagogy. Teaching as inquiry is independent of the tool, while eLearning without reflective practice is a dead duck.

The Volcanics Community, as an eLearning community, I think, is only just realising this fact. It therefore begs the question why we should not just call ourselves a Learning Community, as teaching is not about technology, but about teaching and Learning.

Friday, 3 April 2009

A Learning Theory for 21st Century Students

The latest Innovate magazine has an article on a learning theory for the 21st century. Interesting reading and very relevant to my own journey of wanting to know what will work in an online environment to ensure quality teaching and learning happens. The difficult part is bridging the gap between theory and practice (praxis), and this is what I, and a group of colleagues, are wanting to do. Hopefully the outcome will be a set of guidelines which teachers can use to help them provide quality on-line learning experiences for their students.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

ePedagogy or simply a 21st century pedagogy

Well, haven't blogged for ages, but things have been so hectic - no excuse I suppose.
ePedagogy or simply 21st century pedagogy. Well it's a no brainer as far as I am concerned - it's 21st century pedagogy, because it's not about the technology, it's about learning. We coined the idea of an "e" in front of anything to do with computing and learning, as if it was something separate to "normal" learning. For us digital immigrants, I suppose it was, but for digital natives, using technology to learn is normal. Not using technology, or using technology in a way that is "so yesterday", is what students see as not normal. Don't get me wrong, students do not expect to have technology as part of every learning experience, but they do expect it to form part of how they go about learning. My question is how do teachers use technology to construct learning experiences that are engaging, challenging, collaborative, flexible and anytime, anywhere? How do teachers link formal and informal learning experiences to provide truly context driven learning? How do we connect with and co-construct our learning while at the same time meeting the rigours of national assessment? How do we educate our parents that learning is not about getting credits, but that getting credits is a result of learning?

So many questions.