Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Digital Portfolios

Today i sent a message to the listserv asking about Digital Portfolios. I had a great response thanks to all those who responded in emails to me. I am investigating where NZ primary schools are at with their use of Digital Portfolios. How they are organised in their schools, what philosophies do they have surrounding their use, what are they focussing on - year level, assessment focus and what are their reflections on the benefits of Digital Portfolios. I also want to know what tools they are using to support this. The links i have been following up are posted to my Delicious http://del.icio.us/rachelj/eportfolios Some interesting ones there I like the use of Comic Life by North Loburn school. Thanks also Iain i found your Digital Portfolio cluster resources on Interact after receiving your email.

Also of interest was this response from Mark:
"As some of you may be aware there is a trial dealing with the interoperability between SMS’s (MUSAC) and OLE’s (KnowledgeNET) taking place at the moment but the other aspect of this trial is the development of e-portfolios. We carried out an unofficial trial of these 2 years ago within the KnowledgeNET environment and was extremely encouraged at the results and the many learning lessons that resulted from this. The three schools who are trialing e-portfolios officially are Red Beach Primary, Northcross Intermediate and Takapuna Grammar. They have just begun the trial process so they will not have a lot of “results” yet. I am willing to send through the chapter on e-portfolios from the upcoming book to anyone who would like a copy. The chapter is unedited so bear with any sequencing/grammar/spelling issues (US spelling has been used). The remaining 39 chapters are on their way to the editors now and the book (Whatever!: The Conceptual Age and the Evolution of School V2.0) will be available for purchase in late September and the download option in late August. You can e-mail request for the chapter to mark@work.co.nz."

I definitely recommend you subscribe to the CompEd listserv and keep up-to-date with whats happening in ICT in NZ Schools this is how:
Send email to nzcomped@massey.ac.nz with the following command in the body of your email message:
subscribe nzcomped
(make sure that there is nothing else in your email - signatures etc)

Lease or Purchase???

I was responding in an email to Tom & thought these notes were worth sharing on the blog. Your comments, recommendations, links?

Lease/purchase - the MOE line is usually lease & someone you should talk to is Jonathan Beveridge - exMOE but currently working for Equico. He is their educational consultant. He is really good at talking this through and can work with you (for free) to develop your long term planning for infrastructure management. Jonathan will be in Taranaki next week I encourage you to invite him to your school to critique & give advice on your ICT Management Plan - if you haven't got one - well you really need Jonathan to come to your school!!!

Having said that it also depends on your funding. Many of our schools find themselves with a sum of money to spend on IT that has come from a grant & they spend it on hardware. One of my schools bought a pod of laptops - I investigated this for them & looked @ the lease/purchase question but because they had the sum of money now & didn't know what funding they would have at the end of a lease term (usually 3 years) they decided to purchase instead.

Leasing means that you should have a steady budget for your ICT needs but it is the most sensible option to have a long term plan of hardware maintenance & upgrade.

Here's some useful info about leasing vs purchasing.

Even though Jonathan works for a leasing company you don't necessarily have to go with Equico to provide your equipment - same as if you were purchasing - investigate all the options.

Others who do lease agreements could be your local IT provider - we use Gen-I, EdTech supports the HP Desktops for schools, locally also there is AllLeasing

Monday, 30 July 2007

LMS Decisions? Wait Just Another Minute!

I have been working with one of my schools as they investigate Learning Management Systems (LMS). It's something their teachers have been asking for (Yahoo! - quick strike while the iron's hot!) but it seems these are unsettled times in the area of LMS in NZ so we should just taihoa for just a bit longer and see what develops.
One reason is the work going into developing interoperability between SMS & LMS. This is currently being trialled & the MOE will be taking Road Shows around the country to inform and advise schools on their LMS decisions. Read more about it here.
Another reason is the review around the continued support of Interact which is used to support many of our learning communities - TaraNet & BardWired are both hosted inside Interact as well as the ICTPD network. Glen has set up a site to explore LMS directions.
Add to this new LMS appearing on the scene every time you turn around - for example Scholaris supported by NewEraIT turned up for the 1st time on my radar screen today.
The MOE released guidelines earlier in the year for choosing MOLEs (managed online learning environment :-) These are helpful for looking at what questions you should ask your LMS vendor & trying to match up your schools needs to an appropriate LMS but they are not as conclusive as the SMS guidelines that provides accreditation of products against the guidelines
There are so many things to consider - for example Scholaris & Mindspring are both based on a school being an existing user of Microsoft Office Software - which might be fine right now. But what about when the Microsoft Schools Software Agreement comes up for renewal in another 3 years - (buzz is it might not be renewed) - where will that leave schools who have a LMS based on Microsoft?
So many variables, so many things to consider, so confusing - even for me & I have spent the last 4 years investigating various LMS. Its so much like dancing on the shifting carpet right now with LMS. I just hope that when schools do make their decisions that the carpet doesn't get pulled away from underneath.
The advice i am giving my school? Narrow your choices down to 3 or 4 LMS, get demo sites up & going so you can have a play, and wait for further information from the MOE roadshow before committing. After that just go hard out with your choice & have lots of support for your staff as they develop in their use of your LMS because at the end of the day it won't be the system you choose thats the most important thing but the people who are using your system.
My LMS Delicious Links.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

If I Knew Then What I Know Now....

I wouldn't have spent all day searching through the Massey Database I would have gone straight here first! It took me awhile to refine my search techniques - I had Eric open in one window, Massey Library in the other so i could go straight to the relevant journals & EndNote open to reference as I went. Choice of keywords was important too & really a guessing game to find the most relevant articles. My current research foucus is Videoconferencing (a brief history of, & contributions to distance education). It took me awhile (& a number of borderline articles accessed, downloaded & referenced) to find that the key word that hit the jackpot was teleconferencing. So whats the difference between teleconferencing & videoconferencing? Nothing from what i could work out (correct me if i'm wrong). How important it is too to find articles that are 'seminal' (for want of a better word), that are current & relevant with lots of references to follow up. Now i've spent all day finding my reading, it's going to take me awhile to get through it all. Maybe I should narrow my focus to videoconferencing in NZ ;-)

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Wine Not Network @ Toko School

Thanks to Toko School for hosting the first Wine Not Network for 2007! Teachers from Toko, Eltham & Marco Schools met to share what they were doing with ICT in their schools.
Toko teachers shared examples of the work their kids had done with lots of different things:
Use of visual images & creative writing – poetry – acrostic, cinquin, feelings poems – flickr images, photostory, photoshop – manipulating flickr images.

Spreadsheets for mathematical investigations & charting.
Logo for programming mathematical concepts - for the Methanex Maths Spectacular.
Using Interact & SmartNet for notices, shared calendars, shared links & posting topic & class work resources.
Use of Inspiration to prepare for writing experiences – get ideas out in Inspiration and converting to Word to finish the writing and editing process.
Great use of the simple programme Paint – detailed drawings instead of clipart.
Using mp3 players to support the reading programme – eg recording reading activity (a play), listening on the listening post, discussing quality of reading (expression, style, delivery etc), re-recording.

Thanks Rich, Charlaine, Kelly & Scott for all the great ideas. Looking forward to our next Wine Not Network @ Eltham later in the term :-)

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

RSS for Professional Learning

TaraNet Lead teachers are meeting today (VC) to have a general catchup of whats happening with ICT & learning in our schools.

At each of our meetings i plan to include a PD focus - today we are going to look at RSS for Professional Learning.
RSS, to me, was the key that really unlocked Web 2.0 and was the glue that allowed me to connect to other edubloggers both through the setting up of a feed on my own site using feedburner and through subscribing to other sites on bloglines. Another useful tool as recommended by Graham was co-comment that allows me to follow conversations where i have left comments. So often in the past i had left comments & then missed the rest of the conversation because i didn't go back there...

Here are the notes for our workshop session today.

Promoting VC @ S.H.S.

Last night I presented a short promo session at Stratford High School for the Year 8 evening - where prospective new students and their families come and learn more about what our school has to offer.
The school's new 'slogan' couldn't suit VC learning any better:
"Staying Local - Going Far"
In a nutshell this sums up how VC can really benefit our students. A world of opportunities can be opened up to them without having to leave town.
My talk focussed on how VC learning was a collaborative initiative with other schools & learning institutions regionally & nationally and that our children now had a wealth of choices available to them through the Virtual Learning Network. I also talked about the the opportunities our students have to talk to experts and other interesting people through Digital Conversations and through Telecom VC promotional events.
It was very timely that Telecom had contacted us that day to let us know we had been included in the upcoming All Blacks VCs. We will be making a big event with this - moving the VC gear out into a classroom and having our Primary School children participate alongside the older students. The last time we had a big event like this was when Telecom hosted the NZ Idol Ben Lummis VC 3 years ago - we had children ranging from Y3 to Y13 joining in together and when the parents heard that Doug Howlett was also part of the VC we couldn't get them out of the room either! Although it was unashamed Telecom self promotion (Helen Clark & Theresa Gattung also made appearances) it was a great event for the children to be involved in.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

IWB @ Pitt

Pitt Island school installed their Smart Board yesterday and the kids have had lots of fun exploring the cool things they can do with it. We ran a test skype today to see how a skype call would go projected on the IWB. The picture on the big screen was fine but sound at our end was a problem with the children so far away from the camera and the laptop - perhaps bring the laptop closer and attach a better microphone. Some adjustments to be made. Pitt children can expect some skype calls from Taranaki soon as two of our schools are getting webcams to use with their IWBs and will be looking for someone to test them out on too. If your class has a webcam & would like to talk to our Taranaki or Pitt Island children let me know & we will set something up.

First Weeks @ SPS

Today I worked with a small team of Y5 & 6 students as they took photos of New Entrants at Stratford Primary School to create Digital Stories of their first weeks at school. It was quite a logistical exercise with 14 new children starting at school this term! The older kids were great at organising the younger ones, getting them to pose for 'natural shots', lining them up for group photos & keeping them amused as they waited their turn. By the end of the day the Y5 & 6 students were exhausted :-) The photos will be compiled in Movie Maker with captions & background music, burnt to CD & presented to the New Entrant children at assembly.
On the more technical side of things the CDs are burnt with an Autorun programme, so they start automatically on a start page that explains what the CD is all about, links to the First Weeks @ SPS movie file and links also to a range of software on the CD - just in case they don't have the right software on their home computers to view the movie. Previous experience of sending students digital work home has shown that not all families have the right software to view the work. This initiative has been running since the end of last year and there has been no feedback from families to say they can't view the movie.
I know if i was a parent i would love to have a lasting memory such as this.

Monday, 23 July 2007


Over the holidays Stratford Primary School had Interactive Whiteboards installed in all the senior classrooms, as well as making 8 tablets available for use across the school.
It was very exciting to come to school last week and see into all the classrooms, students interacting with Maths Learning Objects. This is early days yet as teachers and students together explore the possibilities for this technology in their classrooms.
Today i began to load some Interwrite Software on my computer so i could have a play and develop some resources. I also visited the Sitech E-Learning Zone (a moodle site) to check out the resources, links & PD material there. Stratford Primary along with many other schools have joined the Sitech Champion Schools - a collection of schools who in partnership with Sitech have the following Vision:
"To bring together technological and pedagogical expertise to explore the impact on teaching and learning of digitally enhanced classrooms and to offer effective strategies for their future use"

and Goals:

"To work with teacher-researchers to obtain a picture of present teaching practice in digitally enhanced classrooms
To build on observational work to develop, trial and evaluate theoretically-grounded teaching strategies for the digitally enhanced classroom"

I look forward to following their progress & joining them on their learning journey :-)

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Blogging Mojo

Thanks to my nzedublogger colleagues for helping me find my blogging mojo. How can i have gone 6 weeks without a single post??!

It's not like i have nothing to say my life is full of lots of goings on - so well, maybe its been too full! Thanks guys for your prompt & positive comments, they really motivate me - Artie you always write something that gives me a chuckle :-)

This semester i will be studying again & though i have said never again.... one more paper & i will graduate with a Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Technologies (Massey). This last (hehe last) paper is focussed around distance learning: "Policy, practice & trends in Distance and Online Education" Hmmm title sounds pretty dry & boring but this paper will be really relevant to my work with the TaraNet elearning cluster and in practice its not boring at all. Online learning is one of my passions - without it i wouldn't be where i am today.
One of the things i will be looking at will be the history & contributions of Video Conferencing in online education. I know the KAWM network was one of the earliest to use video conferencing for online learning in NZ - have you heard of others who went before? What has been happening internationally with VC & distance learning? If you are into online learning expect me to pick your brains :-)

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

VC Extending the Possibilities

Today i visited Coastal Taranaki Area School to catch up on the ICT & learning happenings out there and to promote TaraNet & the uptake of VC distance learning for their students. Coastal Taranaki School has seen huge changes in the last couple of years with the closing of local schools and the amalgamation into the one area school. Physical changes to the school campus are now complete and the school is looking great. School staffing has settled down a lot, though as yet complete, from the early upheavals and things seem to be ticking along ok now.
I managed to catch up with Erin, one of our 'model' VC students, as she was finishing her weekly video conference. Erin is an enthusiastic proponent of VC distance learning. Here is some of what she has to say about the difference VC learning has made for her:

"I am in year 13 at coastal Taranaki School and I study Equine via video conferencing. I have been interested in horses since a young age, started riding when I was 8 years old and brought my first pony at 13.
Our school does not have an equine programme; however Video conferencing has opened up a whole new door for me. I began the course last year, studying through both WINTEC in Hamilton and Telford Rural Polytechnic in Balclutha, which is near Dunedin......

I have continued this year to do the second year equine course with Telford......
Video Conferencing is such a valuable resource for our school; it has helped me combine my passion for horses with practical learning which will help me towards my dream of working with horses. It has also taught me good time management skills as I have to make sure I keep up with my work and send assignments away on time. My tutor is always available to answer questions and give advice on all things to do with horses, we keep in contact via email and I never feel as though I have nobody to help me.
Some people may compare VC with correspondence work but having done both myself I say Video Conferencing is a lot better. I have a tutor who I can speak to face to face on the VC televisions once a week and is always available to help me, it allows the tutor to show diagrams, pictures and graphs etc and explain them, rather than with correspondence where they send you the information and you have to try and understand it by yourself.

It is great for our school to be able to offer not only equine but almost any subject not available here via VC where professional and experienced tutors are able to teach Coastal Taranaki students to the same level in which you can learn in the classroom. I would highly recommend Video Conferencing to anyone who wishes to take a course not offered at the school, its’ a great chance to learn new things, meet new people with similar interests to you and gain credits for NCEA and even University Entrance."
It was great to have this sort of positive feedback from Erin - knowing that what we do in supporting access to distance learning is really making a difference to the learning & career opportunities of our students.

Erin's horse Shaman