Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Managed Learning Environments

If you missed the MOE consultation round, like i did, you can catch up on what the talk is about by viewing Paul's presentation below.

These developments will be great for all our schools but particularly for our elearning classes that are trying to work through all of these things yesterday.

Friday, 12 December 2008

TaraNet's Top eLearner


Congratulations Toni at Coastal Taranaki School who was awarded Top TaraNet eLearner. Thanks again to Gen-i for their generous partnership in this award. Toni received an Asus Laptop in recognition of her commitment to her studies. Next year Toni continues to be an elearner taking two classes online - Chemistry & Physics.







eteacher Joel, myself, Toni & Coastal Principal Allan.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Cybersafe eStudents


Some of the ePrincipals have been preparing student resources for a beginning of year module for elearning students to prepare themselves for the year ahead. My contribution was in the area of cybersafety which i have done a lot with students f2f. I adapted my material for an online learning environment using exe editor. I had a few problems getting exe editor to run but after reading the help forums i found there was some conflicts with AVG. It worked fine after i had deleted all the AVG toolbar files from my Program files. (Thanks Anton) I have hosted this on our Moodle website for our students & shared with other clusters. I have also put it here so that anyone can access it.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Mahi Tahi Hui

We had our last Mahi Tahi VLN meeting today for the year today.

I used the audio pin to dial in & though i wasn't seen on the VC had just as much opportunity to contribute & participate. Neil Riley from Live Wire learning came in to show us through his website.


This site provides content & activities for a range of NCEA subjects. This would be a great resource to support for VC classes as I know many of our eteachers find it a challenge to create online learning materials.

We also talked some more about our upcoming Online ETeacher Conference coming up on the 28th January at a VC room near you. Derek Wenmoth will be keynoting and there are a number of workshops to choose from. If you are an eteacher who would like to attend & haven't been sent any information about registering for this contact Lynda

Monday, 1 December 2008

TaraNet Video Workshop


Another successful PD workshop today. Teachers from Patea, Opunake, Stratford, St Mary's & Inglewood attended this session. This time we focused on Video with Mark Bellringer from DigitalStory facilitating the session for us. Mark has many years experience in this area within industry and in education. He tutored Graphic Design at Polytech for many years and has worked with teachers & their students in many Taranaki Schools over the years. It is great to have someone with this passion and experience in Digital Imaging to work with our teachers.

This was our programme for the day:
A look at “the gear”
• Cameras
• Sound equipment
• “Other stuff”
• Computers
• Software

What are you going to do?
• Documentary
• Drama
• School video magazine
• Allowing students to “see” themselves - sports, speechmaking, experiments, processes
• Students documenting work
• Teachers documenting work, assessments etc

A process
• Planning
• Types of shots

Capturing and Editing
• File types and jargon
• Different software
• How to “get it” into the computer
• Using Moviemaker

• To computer
• The web

A step-up from Windows Movie Maker but still an affordable option for schools is Adobe Premier Elements. This can be bundled with Photoshop Elements and has educational pricing. Find out more from the TKI Software for Learning site. (Though this site has been recently upgraded it seems they haven't upgraded the content - still showing Adobe Version 3.0....)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Mathletics TaraNet Junior Maths Whizz Quiz



Teams of Yr 9 & 10 students from Patea, Stratford, St Mary's, Waitara & Coastal competed in our first TaraNet VC quiz today. Thanks to Mathletics for sponsoring prizes for this event. The winning team won its members 3 months individual subscriptions to the Mathletics site.This was a very competitive challenge and I had to be very attentive to determine which school had 'buzzed in' first to answer the question. Thanks to  Stratford High and Unka for preparing the quiz question and expert assistance during the VC. The quiz questions and answers can be found here.

Mathletics Tara Net Junior Quiz
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: quiz maths)

If you are not a SlideShare member you can also download this presentation from here

We look forward to planning similar events in other areas such as General Knowledge or Current Events and perhaps put forward our winning teams to compete with other regions...

Oh and the winning Whizzes - Waitara High School - well done team! :-)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Matapu Goes to Antarctica

image Jackie's students at Matapu School joined a Learnz VC fieldtrip to Antarctica yesterday.

Read about it in the Taranaki Daily News and on Mr C's Blog - a great learning opportunity for these young students who have been studying Antarctica and a great promotion for VC & learning.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

YES - Young Enterprise Scheme

imageToday i spent the day with Yolande from the Enterprise NZ Trust & a few other teachers  in some training to become a YES teacher.

It has been 5 years since i have been a YES teacher but i have mentored a couple of teams since then. Today was a good refresher about what YES is all about and how to support your students as they undertake this programme.

What is YES?
"It is a learning experience for young people, teachers and business people in which senior secondary school students form a company; become directors; develop products and services, which they market and sell. Yes is school based and teaches skills in budgeting, planning, interpersonal relations, decision making, reporting, communications; risk management and teamwork
Young Enterprisers

  • add value to school based knowledge
  • learn how to run a business
  • learn value of being enterprising
  • develop a "can do" attitude
  • learn to take and manage risks. "

Next year Carolyn, ePrincipal FarNet & myself will be offering a YES class through the VLN.
Many of our smaller rural schools have not fielded YES teams in recent years because they have a small number of students wanting to join YES, limited staffing or teachers who are not willing to take this on as an extra curricular. Offering YES on the VLN will allow those students who have missed out in the past to be involved. I look forward to seeing what enrolments we get for next year and working with these students in an online environment. Watch this space :-)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

More TaraNet Moodling

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14 teachers from TaraNet schools including most of our eteachers for 2009 spent the day at Stratford High learning how to use Moodle. Anton, WelCom ePrincipal, VCed into us for a while in the afternoon & answered some of our questions and showed us a few things in Hot Potato. This was a collaborative workshop in that for most of the day there were no experts but a common purpose - creating a course in Moodle. Some teachers had some knowledge of Moodle from a previous workshop, most were completely new, I had a few things to show & share & then we worked towards our common goal & shared our learning along the way. A goal I set for our eteachers was to have a unit of work prepared before we meet again in December. It is a big ask for teachers to create digital resources from scratch - not so much the technical skills to do so, but the time to create activities to support their online classes. It would be good to get some collaborative teams together nationally to create core resources & course content across a range of learning areas to provide that curriculum support for new teachers & reduce the huge workload. Bringing our eteachers together across the clusters (as we did with our eteacher meetings this year) with the purpose of creating course content & resources together could be something the ePrincipals could facilitate on the VLN for 2009.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Hot Potatoes


Tomorrow we have a TaraNet workshop day on using Moodle. One of the things we will be looking at is Hot Potatoes.
"The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is not freeware, but it is free of charge for those working for publicly-funded non-profit-making educational institutions, who make their pages available on the web."

Friday, 14 November 2008

Comic Life 4 Windows

If you were like me and thought Comic Life was just for lucky Mac users think again!
Try it out with your kids :-)


Thanks to Anita Year 6 from Matapu School for sending me her Comic Life story :-)

Page_1 Page_2 Page_3

Just Playing


Thursday, 13 November 2008

Top elearners


Today I did a lot of miles around the mountain and was a guest at Senior prizegivings at Opunake and Waitara High Schools. It was inspiring to see our students leaving school with such promise and hope for the future. It was great to be able to award a student at each school with an award for top elearner of their school. Each student received a certificate and an 8GB flash drive with Portable Apps installed. Our elearning students, & their teachers & me for that matter are often invisible in schools. It was good to be able to stand before the whole school community and raise our profile and celebrate the work of our students that for many is such an achievement to complete an online VC class that it shouldn't go unnoticed.

Claire - top elearner & Dux Waitara High

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

ePrincipal Profile


The profile of the VLN and it's ePrincipal group Mahi Tahi has been raised through a number of articles in this months EdGazette. Thanks CAM, Howard, Conor & Trevor for being our ambassadors. Great to see we also now have a link from the front page of the TKI website too. All this exposure will be really helpful in lifting this cloak of invisibility i feel often surrounds our work, the VLN and our eteachers & students. And should help move us more from working around the boundaries into an everyday part of our schools' cultures & ways of doing things.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

VLN Meeting with Tertiary Providers

Eddie invited a number of Tertiary Providers to speak with ePrincipals about courses they are offering on the VLN next year. There was a good turn out from a range of tertiary providers: Telford, NatColl, Northtec, Wintec.

Up for discussion was the outline of courses available, costs, quality assurance, monitoring student achievement and attendance and communicating with schools. We also talked about how we should be promoting these courses not only to our students but to teaching staff and the local community.


Telford Rural Polytech specialises in Agriculture, Equine & Forestry. They also provide Horticulure & Apicultue courses. They have been providing classes to our students across the country through the VLN for a number of years.Star Funding $19 credit for courses. Practicals are FTs funded $85 for all included (except for travel).  They deliver blended learning through VC & Moodle. Adult students can enrol in these classes (though they have to pay for it themselves - STAR funding doesn't cover)


Wintec also provides courses that can be Star funded
The Tourism course has been running for some time & is self paced through Moodle, will also use Adobe Connect & VC. There are also Floristry, ECE unit standards.
We have asked them to look at providing a L4 Computing course for our North Island students similar to one run by Otago Polytechnic.


NatColl  has a focus on digital media with a vocational direction.
In 2009 they will begin offering short courses  through the VLN using Adobe Connect as a delivery tool. First offerings will be basic graphic design (Introduction to Photoshop), no experience necessary but need access to a computer & basic computer skills; Indesign - graphic layout & design. Short courses (2 hours week/ 10 weeks) $200 - schools can use STAR funding. There are no NCEA credits attached to their courses which we thought would put off some students. I can see an opportunity for PD for our teachers - in particular many at Patea have expressed an interest in learning to use PhotoShop and teachers at Stratford who use Indesign and there is a small group of them who use it to create the school magazine.Open to requests for customing courses for schools.
NatColl also talked about their Creating Futures programme which Waitara has students enrolled in. (Thanks to NatColl for awarding a scholarship worth $5900 to our elearning student Duke  - who i wrote about recently) Another programme they are trialling is iCreate - a year long foundation course in digital media being trialled. Covering things such as animation (blender), moviemaker, photoshop etc.
There was some discussion around the concern about access to software - schools have educational pricing on this software & can use concurrent licencing. We expressed an interest in them developing more courses that used open source software.


Northtec cam along just an introduction. They are beginning to realise the potential of the Virtual Learning Network and will get back to us soon with some possible offerings.

So in Taranaki? WITT - what are you doing??? I visited them a couple of months ago to promote the VLN and opportunities to collaborate with TaraNet. They seemed really interested at the time and there was some talk about meeting the needs of Schools Plus. I have had no follow up from them since this time - perhaps its time for another visit...

We closed the meeting with some discussion around TEC rules of funding to regions. This has been an obstacle for Dunedin Polytech providing their computing course in other areas. Our students and others in the North Island have been keen to enrol in this course but unable to. Wintec talked about the protocols they have about not stepping into other areas & poaching students. The Tertiaries said that they try to work around this if they can & we need to lobby TEC to make this rule more flexible for those of us who are teaching & learning across geographical boundaries.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Adobe Connect


Video Conferencing is not the only way we can provide synchronous online classes or collaborate with our colleagues online. Adobe Connect is a web conferencing tool that the SILC (Southland) cluster uses for all their online classes and that many of us are using to work with others online. You may have seen this used in SchoolZone or eAdmin training before.
The screen shot above shows us sharing desktops which can produce this never ending mirror effect ;-)
If you want to have a look at how this web based collaborative environment might work you can visit my Adobe 'sandpit' and see. If you want access to use this tool for your online learners contact Eddie

Monday, 3 November 2008

Let the Horsetrading Begin!


It's that time of year again when ePrincipals negotiate with their own schools and begin talking with each other clusters about what classes will be offered in the New Year.

I have been trying to get my Principals to think more strategically about this by getting them to think about what their student needs are first and then discussing how they can collaborate to best meet those needs. We have 3 new classes starting next year from TaraNet that have been chosen because we have a need for them in our cluster: L1 Spanish, L3 Physics & YES.All new courses will be listed on the VLN from 20th November - go take a look what will be on offer.
(image courtesy of

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Friday, 24 October 2008

Smart Use of ICT


TaraNet eTeacher Ross talks about his VC class in the latest edgazette. Ross will be teaching L3 Ag.Hort. again next year. Hopefully we will have Taratahi back on board to provide a L2 Agriculture class for our TaraNet students. Just waiting to hear confirmation.

"Back at Inglewood, every week Ross beams live into three other schools to teach Ag and Hort via a videoconference hook-up.

"It's providing that breadth of curriculum in schools that might not otherwise be able to provide it," he says of the hi-tech teaching method.

Ross keeps in close contact with teachers at each school who supervise the students' work and turn to him with questions via email or video-conference. It is a system that works well enough for him to expand into remote teaching of level 3 achievement standards this year.

It is a case of new technology helping in the classroom, but Ross says Ag and Hort remains a subject where teachers tend to roll up their sleeves and get down to brass tacks, explaining how ideas apply to real situations.

"That's probably where the shift or challenge lies, how to use these new technologies best. They don't replace what we do but they might substitute part of it. It's a subject where if you stayed in the classroom the whole year you'd lose an awful lot.""


Ross - Ag

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Promoting TaraNet


I have been doing some work in the last week preparing promotional material for TaraNet. Even after 5 years of operating elearning classes, opportunities for our students through TaraNet and the VLN are still a big unknown for many in our school community. I designed this poster for students & a flyer for the wider school community (particularly whanau). These have been distributed to half of our schools so far as I have visited them over the past week.

Why do we need to keep putting ourselves out there to our own school community? Until our students get regular opportunities to engage in online learning & VC it will always be an unknown. They need these experiences first hand. There are plenty of opportunities coming up all the time to be involved in Digital Conversations and for teachers to create those opportunities themselves. But to allow this for our students the 'Gatekeepers' in our schools have got to let them in. Teachers are the Gatekeepers to our students learning opportunities - for many of them VC and elearning is what eteachers do with their classes & nothing to do with them. When elearning opportunities are promoted to them they are too busy, too inflexible to change their programme, too scared to try the technology or don't care as they just don't see the relevance.

Who are the Gatekeepers in your school? And how are they creating barriers to our students learning (whether they realise it or not)?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

eLearning an Option at Waitara High School

DSC01660Waitara was the last of my schools on the Options Evening calendar. What I liked that was different  about Waitara's event was the number of other education providers that were invited to attend. It was run like an expo with a good presence from a range of STAR & gateway course providers. There was also some Careers options there such as the Armed Services. When i wasn't at my post I was out talking to the other providers about TaraNet & the VLN. It is great also to have the opportunity to speak to students and their families about the choices available to them. Having access to the internet through my 3G mobile was very handy as we were able to go straight to the VLN and browse around.

Sunday, 12 October 2008



I have had a number of years coming to conference, including Ulearn. ePrincipals attended to hold their own pre-conference meeting and  were presenting a number of workshops there.
I think its really important to connect f2f, at least on occasions, with the people you work with so these conferences are valuable opportunities for this. For classroom teachers they are a huge PD event and one that i have seen have great impact on their thinking & ultimately to greater or lesser extent (depending on the individuals) their practice.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach showed this graphic in her shared keynote - I felt it represented our Mahi Tahi group so well as a Community of Practice. Read more about COPs on Conor's Blog.

The Ulearn media team interviewed a couple of ePrincipals you can see their interviews here

Thursday, 25 September 2008

School Visits

taralogo I spent a couple of days this week getting out and about TaraNet schools catching up with elearning students, eteachers and lead teachers.

At Opunake Cody showed me his website he has made for his L4 Computing class. The challenge now is to find Cody another Computing course for 2009 that is going to extend on his talents & interests. He would really like to do the Otago Polytech Computing course which I tried every avenue to get him into last year but they wouldn't deliver to North Island students. It would be good to see one of our Northern Polytechs offer a course like this - I know there would be enough takers amongst FarNet, TaraNet & the Volcanics to make this a viable class...

Waitara student Duke showed me the work he had done on upgrading the Waitara High School website. He did a great job using Dreamweaver, Flash & Fireworks.  Very professional - a future in webdesign perhaps.

Coastal Taranaki has also now got its new website up and running - good to see a section on elearning :-)

At Inglewood I worked with Penny as she started to use her Moodle site to set up some work for her students. We went through the process of creating pages, links & a forum also practising how she would help her students logon for the first time. There is still a lot of work for me to do in our site to get some content in there but a handful of teachers around the schools are beginning to use it with their students (particularly at Inglewood). All TaraNet eteachers will be using Moodle to support their classes in 2009.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

St Mary's PLGs


Every week I have been attending St Mary's Professional Learning Groups. These are groups have an ICTPD focus and work together for 40 minutes before school one day a week. Today we had a sharing session with feedback from the different groups:

Wiki spaces – easy to use & free, , problem was blocked at the time, survey monkey – design surveys. Need to try these out before hand. Use plans, b & c. Kids very positive.

Protopage – not for all, but interesting to play with. Embedding videos – again blocking problems (You Tube). Can’t upload whole documents. Photos sometimes not clear. Handy as a home page for students.

Discussion on trial of unblocking YouTube Will focus first on teacher's use of YouTube and learn how to download and share video.

Powerpoint – steps of students making a product – photographs – visual instruction for students on the big screen.

Using the IWB – energy transformations – student were really engaged – manipulating objects to come up with an energy equation.

IWB – shared ideas, Created How To files on the Teacher Drive (Interwrite folder).

Digital Learning Objects – need to be clear about learning objectives. Front page of TKI, Digistore.

These PLGs are a great way to slowly but surely bring teachers along in their use of ICT in the classroom by  making time for hands on ICTPD within a safe & supportive environment. Throughout the discussion this morning it was good to hear the connections were being made between what teachers were learning & trying out in their lessons and the benefits for students. All had to say the students were really positive, motivated, & enthusiastic about what they were doing - even when it sometimes didn't work as they expected :-)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Conservation Week


"Conservation Week is from 7-14 September 2008 and the theme is Meet the Locals, Tutakitia te Iwi Kainga.

To celebrate Conservation Week, the Department of Conservation will present a one hour virtual lesson each day from 8-12 September. The virtual lessons will help your students understand the native animals and plants, people and places that are unique to New Zealand.

You can also use DOC's Conservation Week education units to teach your students about conservation. Unit one is for years 1 - 4 and unit two is for years 5 - 8. Visit to download the activities for each unit."

Matapu School made the most of Conservation Week through the support of TaraNet and Telecom School Zone. They were able to borrow a spare set of VC gear from us and Telecom SchoolZone kindly sponsored an upgrade to their circuit to enable the connectivity required for video conferencing.

Here the students are talking to DOC education officer, Sarah Bond, from Westland about Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks)& the Glaciers. They also joined conversations during the week with DOC officers in Dunedin & Wellington and learnt about skinks & geckos and wetas. The VCs were the buzz of the school this week amongst students & their families.
Check out their blogspot.

Our local DOC education officer was invited to join us for these VCs but was too busy himself in schools for Conservation Week. Definitely an opportunity in the future for TaraNet to work with DOC and have  some virtual field trips coming out of Taranaki to the rest of NZ.

Matapu School have their VC gear till the end of this term - contact them if you would like to connect your classes through VC.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Heads up @ Patea

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I met with staff at Patea Area School today and ran "Heads up on eLearning Workshop" via VC. Here are the staff at Patea in their Personalised Learning Centre watching 'Shift Happens'. I thought the workshop ran well from a distance - I was able to run through my presentation, including the movie without too much loss of quality (I think - that's the feedback I got anyway ;-) and engage in discussion with teachers. It was easier too to set up a presentation from the VC room than travel to Patea (save my carbon footprint), setup a data projector and try & configure internet access at the school.

Patea are looking to focus on ICTPD for their teachers & I will support them in working with their lead teachers, developing a vision & a strategic plan, goal setting and bringing in facilitators to work with staff in PLGs (Professional Learning Groups), regular in-class support & workshop sessions.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

ePrincipals Meet

DSC01644 ePrincipals meet once a month in the forum of regular VLN meetings. It used to be Cam that had a penchant for hats but I think it must have rubbed off on Eddie...

One of the points for discussion was the enrolment process. It is coming up to the time of the year that we are all preparing for 2009 classes - new courses are due to go up on the VLN November 20th. We talked about the possibility of formulating a national enrolment policy to ensure we had coverage for the classes that students wanted to enrol in and to maximise the enrolments of existing classes - particularly those that had more than one class offered on the VLN and historically low numbers of enrolments. There is also concern for all of us about the uncertainty of confirming our students in VLN classes that are not offered by our own clusters. I think we do need to work strategically together on this but for our cluster anyway we are just beginning to try and work strategically at cluster level - let alone at national level. So far offerings of eclasses and eteachers has been pretty hit & miss. Schools want to be able to choose at will from the 'pick & mix' chocolate box but they feel hamstrung by what they can contribute as their own specialist teachers are not offered due to their own schools demands, and availability of staffing to release eteachers. If the MOE would come to the party and provide some .FTs to schools who have elearning students this would help with the flexibility of staffing and schools may be encouraged to deepen their eteacher pool. The Correspondence School receives funding for student enrolments - how can we achieve this for our schools?

Friday, 29 August 2008

Stop Press - TaraNet eLearning Award

GEN-I high res small A big thank you to Gen-i who are sponsors of our inaugural TaraNet eLearning Award.

After 5 years of eLearning in TaraNet schools it is time to recognise and celebrate the achievements of a growing number of students who have risen to the challenge of being elearners.

It will be very hard to choose just one worthy recipient of this award as most of our schools have one or more students who fit the criteria.

The criteria we have come up with so far are:

  • must be an elearning student from a TaraNet school 
  • have shown a commitment to their studies (attendance & diligence)
  • be a positive role model for elearning

The qualities this student will show are imagepersistence, flexibility, a high level of communication, and a positive outlook. Some input from our students here would be good.
What are the qualities needed to be a successful elearning student?

Up for grabs is an Asus Laptop 
A great little tool for an elearner!

We hope to gain more sponsorship and trial these in our schools for more of our elearners.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

We're Proud of our 'E'ness

ePrincipal's had a day together at the MOE office. On the agenda:

  • eMentor's reporting on work going into the restructuring of the VLN
  • Preparation for ULearn - who's presenting what - a number of ePrincipal led workshops will be offered
  • Discussions with NZQA regarding our procedures in particular MOUs - ePrincipals are now on the NZQA mailing list so we can keep up with what's going on
  • Correspondence School discussed their work with the FarNet in support of SchoolsPlus students. SchoolsPlus students get funding to enrol with the Correspondence School & so they are looking at how to collaborate with the VLN clusters to support these students.
  • Ka Hikitia Presence on the VLN - Carolyn presented a discussion paper on this which outlined some key areas such as:
    • identifying Maori students in VLN enrolments
    • developing a strong pool of VC Maori teachers to cope with demand for enrolments
    • accessing links with Maori students - eg senior tamariki mentoring younger in language, performing arts
    • digital conversations with Maori role models
  • Digital Conversations - Sarah from the Book Council to revive the WordSpace video conferences with NZ writers
  • Proposal discussed- a shared Online Learning Environment
  • Preparation for creating a Student Module for elearners at the beginning of the school year.

image Thanks Lynda (& Vicki) for organising today & yesterday's activities. Though we live and work in a virtual world much of the time, I think it is really worthwhile meeting face to face as we did today.

Interface wrote an article about the VLN & ePrincipals you can read it here.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

DEANZ Conference


ePrincipals provided a presence at DEANZ conference this year in  a conference that has traditionally been mostly populated by Tertiaries, academics & the Correspondence School.
It was interesting to rub shoulders with others in the field of Distance Learning in NZ but I left conference feeling generally underwhelmed and unchallenged by much I had seen there. Perhaps I am becoming desensitised to ideas surrounding innovative change (real or rhetoric) that I just don't get so hyped up anymore...

Michael Barbour presented a workshop that would be useful to use with our eteachers:
"about designing instruction for an adolescent and early adult audience and how the interactive can be used to help facilitate learning in this largely unsupervised environment."

Marilyn, lead teacher Waitara High School, attended Dr Ken Stevens presentation "Extending learning opportunities for high school students in rural communities: The replication of a NZ model in Canada". This was relevant for Marilyn as she has just returned from Canada where she was looking at some aspects of distance learning in schools. Here are some excerpts from her notes:
"We did it first! Ken explained how he used the NZ model from Cantatech and the Taranaki Experiment of the one-teacher primary schools from Strathmore to Taumarunui to introduce distance learning to New Foundland. Because rural schools are not able to provide high-class teachers for all of the subjects they would like to offer, distance learning is the method used to help rural schools survive. It requires collaboration!
In Canada, as in New Zealand, rural schools are struggling to attract the high quality teachers they need for all of the different subjects students want to study, and to prevent the exodus of students to larger city schools, distance learning has been introduced. Ken ran a programme in New Foundland for two years before the Canadian government intervened to find out what was involved, and then took on the programme and developed it into the nation-wide system used now.
Physically small schools have become large institutions via internet and virtual space.
Virtual classrooms are connected and collaborative, onsite and online instruction is given, open teaching and learning,
M Teacher – onsite mediator – we call then VC co-ordinators or DL co-ordinators
E Teacher – teacher of an online class."

Conor also presented a workshop session on behalf of the ePrincipals about the VLN following on from Dr Ken's presentation.

The highlight of the conference for me was listening to Marcus Akuhata-Brown speak in the closing keynote. He spoke of realising the potential in ourselves and others, removing barriers to achieving success (often our own self-belief & the perception of others) and having courage and instilling that courage in others to take on new challenges. Very inspirational. Marcus would be a great advocate for our students as we work with initiatives such as Ka Hikitia and here in Taranaki schools Te Maunga Tuu

Monday, 18 August 2008

PPTA ICT Task Force

image image

I have recently been appointed to represent my region on the PPTA ICT Task Force and met with this group for the first time today. We had a full days meeting at Head Office in Wellington, which was quite handy as I had to be in the city this week anyway.

It was interesting to meet a whole new group of people, the only other person I know in this group was Phil, ePrincipal, CoroNet. The representation across this group is mainly ICT/Computing teachers/ Heads of Departments (although there was a Head of Arts present, it would be good to see a broader representation but I guess this is indicative of the pigeonholing of elearning into ICT departments in Secondary Schools). PPTA staff (Deputy Secretary General & Field Officers) were also there as well as Murray Brown & Paul Seiler from the MOE who joined us for part of the day. Areas discussed were:

  • Digital Technologies Guidelines
  • Screenrights - all schools which copy TV or Radio media (which is probably all schools) should hold this does yours? Find out the process here. 
  • Role of the ePrincipals & Future of the VLN
  • Support for elearning lead teachers (this falls on staff in all our schools with little time or recognition to fulfil the role - suggested that the funding for Specialist Classroom Teacher could be used here)
  • Internet Safety Conference
  • Local Loops (Nelson & Christchurch), Government Shared Network, KAREN, National Education Network
  • Regional Broadband initiatives - regions have funding through economic development groups for this - what is happening in Taranaki? Need to follow this up.
  • SMS/LMS - Paul Seiler covered some aspects of the Road Show held earlier this year, of interest was the work that Kaymar is doing with Moodle interoperability.
  • Student laptops in schools - protocols around this were discussed and examples of school procedure & student user agreements shared.
  • TELA laptops - they are meant to be cleaned by TELA before being sold - some are slipping through the cracks - make sure your laptops are thoroughly cleaned before they leave  your school.
  • Operations Grant, Software Licensing,Subsidised Internet Management Systems
    This links into the Review of School's Operational Funding: ICT Resourcing Framework
    This document clearly signposts changes are coming in the way ICT services have, in recent years anyway, been supported by the MOE ICT team, not only things like infrastructure, TELA laptops but also ICTPD.

Friday, 15 August 2008

eTeacher Observations

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One of the more interesting parts of my job has been to sit in on our VC classes. Lesson observations are part of the Performance Appraisal for our eTeachers and this week I completed the last of them.

Here Ross examines potatoes under the document camera with his L3 Ag/Hort students. One of his students was the 'spud expert' & could tell us the difference between any sort of potato and what they are best used for.

I have enjoyed being a fly on the wall in all of my eteachers' classes. The challenge for most of my teachers though i think is not so much during VC lesson time but all of the other things that sit around the roll of being an eteacher. Things like being organised, communicating with students in between class, creating course material to be available for students to be working on between VC classes and organising for assessment & timely feedback.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Digital Story Telling @ Inglewood

Teachers from Inglewood English Faculty, Stratford & St Mary's joined me to learn about Digital Story Telling. Inglewood English Faculty requested this PD session so we opened it up for the whole cluster to send teachers.
We explored how Digital Story Telling could be used across the Curriculum and had a play with PhotoStory3 to create our own stories based on key words from a poem and using Flickr pics. We also spent some time looking at sites online where you could tell your stories such as:
Voice Thread
Bubblr (Comic Strips)
I look forward to hearing back from teachers about the digital story telling they do with their students back in class :-)

This was a great session for the teachers who attended, it would have been good to see more schools take advantage of this free opportunity for ICTPD...
Workshop notes for Digital Story Telling & PhotoStory are here.


Fleur's Digital Story (Fleur you can download it from here)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

New VC Gear, New TaraNet School?

DSC01613 (Large) I picked up some VC Gear from Puke Ariki today. This equipment has been sitting around gathering dust for the last three years from the time it was used by Venture Taranaki when they were part of the TaraNet ICTPD project. I worked with Puke Ariki Learning Centre staff a couple of years ago to get this equipment up and running at the museum with a view to having Virtual Field Trips similar to those that Rotorua Bath House Museum used to run. With other ICT & elearning initiatives starting up at Puke Ariki at the time the VC never did get off the ground.
I managed to track it down and get permission for TaraNet to take it away for permanent loan to a prospective new TaraNet school. Wahoo :-)
At the moment it is sitting in the Stratford High VC room where i spent some time working out how to reconfigure it to SchoolZone and testing out all the bits. Thanks Asnet for your support in doing this.
Watch this space to see how this VC gear can make a difference in another school.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Digital Students @ Analog Schools

I found this student 'testimonial' while searching for examples of student work for our Digital Storytelling Workshop on Thursday. A message more teachers need to be taking on board.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Moodling Along

Lead teachers and other interested TaraNet teachers attending a Moodle PD day at Opunake High School. Moodle is going to be used for the TaraNet Online Campus and has been opened up for all our schools to use for their own purposes also. A huge thankyou to Anton, WelCom ePrincipal, for facilitating this workshop for us and making himself available for any support queries.

Our site is currently hosted as a trial site with the MOE while we become more familiar with this online learning environment. When we are up and running well with this we will look for a permanent home whether this is with a hosting company or in collaboration with other elearning clusters. There may be something in the pipeline here so TaraNet sits in a good position to go either way. We are starting small to suit our immediate purposes without a shared strategic plan for a cluster-wide learning management system (such as WelCom) at this time. I believe that this would be the logical next step if all goes well and once schools pick up on the potential of a TaraNet Moodle site for collaboration and support for f2f classes as well as online classes. We have been going round & round in circles in the last few years in respect of adopting a learning management system for schools, let alone a cluster wide one, so there are still some in our leadership group who are not ready to commit.

Whole school adoption and cluster-wide collaboration requires that commitment to happen - i think that TaraNet is still feeling uncertain after limited success with KnowledgeNet in the past. All we can do is trial Moodle with a few motivated teachers and our online classes to show it could work well for us as it seems to be for WelCom, AorakiNet, Cantatech & WestNet. (Any other clusters Moodling?)


Thursday, 7 August 2008

Coastal T@T

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Teacher's at Coastal Taranaki School hosted my 'Heads up ELearning' workshop presentation for one of their regular monthly Tech @ Three PD sessions.

Great turnout & discussion helped along by a great afternoon tea, leftovers courtesy of the TaraNet Principal's meeting we held at Coastal earlier in the afternoon.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Tandberg - Serving up the Content

Our eteachers are beginning to use the Tandberg Content server on a more regular basis to record oral assessments. I worked with Marg today to show her how to access her recorded VC session. This will be useful so she can take her time & revisit the assessment of student work, it could be used for moderation purposes, and copies will be made & sent to students for feedback/feedforward.

I tried to access the VC recording that Rangiroa made at the end of last term by using the url direct but am having a heap of trouble with any of my Tandberg passwords working. The server is a bit confusing with a variety of admin & user passwords. Yet i can go straight to the front page of the Tandberg Content Server and view or download this video without any Tandberg password (except for the one i originally set on the video) How crazy is that? I don't really want to direct students to this page - i thought a single url would do it. But after wasting a whole afternoon on this it looks like i'll have to. I think we need to revisit how Tandberg is working for us with Asnet the providers of this service. We did have some meetings around this earlier in the year but many of us were only just beginning to explore Tandberg then and hadn't encountered the vagaries of the system by then. How are others finding Tandberg now we have a bit more experience with it?

Film Commission VC


Marg & I talk to Jeremy Macey from the Film Commission. We were joined by English & Media Studies teachers from around the country (Northland, Roxborough, Twizel, Mangakino & Tokoroa), to discuss the role of the Film Commission and plan for some Digital Conversations with our students. Deb Thompson (Media Advisor) also joined us - her experience was invaluable to our meeting. As well as advising in schools, Deb looks after the TKI Media Studies Community.
Teachers discussed what opportunities they would like to pursue through future VCs, Jeremy offers his industry expertise & connections & Deb will be a useful person to pull this altogether into a coherent and relevant programme. I will give my time to plan and facilitate future VC sessions.

Previously CWA planned & hosted VC Digital Conversations - it would be interesting to find out how this was originally resourced and if it could be supported in a similar way in the future. There is a lot of work to put together VC conversations for students, more so when you want to record & share video from those conversations. Other ePrincipals are also working to bring together these sorts of opportunities for our students - another thing to do in our already hectic workload...

We are planning a VC later in the term for Media Studies students with Jeremy discussing  and answering questions about the Film Commission. Then plan for a programme of student VCs for 2009. Watch this space :-)