Thursday, 28 February 2008

VC Underway @ St Mary's

There's been a few hiccups with missed communication, changed timetables, & access to emails for students here but i think we are getting on top of it now. One of our students hooks up with her class for the first time, a little bit overwhelmed with the thought of catching up on missed work but buzzing with the new learning environment she has found herself in.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Opunake Kuia Talk Tech - Cellphones

Having a cuppa with Val & Rona @ Opunake. They were talking about what wonderful things cellphones were. Just to agree with them i showed them how wonderful they are at getting pics straight up onto the internet from anywhere through your phone. As well as being really useful for ringing ahead on school camps to order $300 of fish & chips ;-) One of our eteachers asked about the possibility of txt alerts to our students straight from our lms - thats a great idea but i'm pretty sure Interact doesn't have that capability. I have most of my students numbers & even tho i know they're not supposed to have phones at school i will still contact them that way if i need them in a hurry.
Any ideas about txt alert services through lms or maybe some other site. Something to find out more about...

Sweet Home Opunake

Its always great to get back to Opunake my old school. The place is looking great, colourful & comfortable with new paint work & carpet in all the classrooms - as an Opunake alumni & visitor i think it makes a big difference. Do the students feel that too? I wonder.

Today i met with Rangiroa our eteacher there and Cody who has just enrolled in a Computing VC class. As this was my first school visit this year most of our time was spent dealing with getting equipment up & running and for Cody learning how to use it as well. I also had time to chat with Mark - elearning leader & discussed his role as lead teacher - conversation centred on issues of workload & time management - something all lead teachers have concerns about i know. It was great also to talk to Mark (Principal) one of my mentors.
The VC gear at Opunake is situated inside a locked cupboard. This is good as it means the room can be utilised for other classes when no VCs are scheduled & it stops the students playing with the settings & the teachers pinching bits from it ;-) Though it is a hassle when the gears not working properly and you want to get in behind & work through all the cables & switches.

Friday, 22 February 2008

TaraNet eHui

Many of our TaraNet students, eteachers and vc coordinators met at Waitara High School today to prepare themselves for the year ahead. Students from Waitara, Inglewood and Coastal VCed with Year 12 students Rowan & Jacob from Roxborough Area School to hear from these seasoned elearners about the positive & challenging experiences of VC learning. Our students were pretty shy about asking questions even though we had spent some time earlier discussing through a PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting) their ideas about what elearning was all about. The Roxborough boys made lively discussion as they spun out the conversation to avoid returning to their classes, this social encounter really helped make our students feel more at ease with the technology & ‘being on TV’. I had originally scheduled for one of our own past students, Douglas (I managed to track him down through his Bebo site), to VC in from the MOE office in Wellington but unfortunately the timing of the Vic University orientation programme clashed.
Two of our students spent some face to face time with their Te Reo teacher Matua Rangiroa and VCed with the rest of their class of CoroNet students from Whangamata, Mercury Bay & Te Aroha. The Level 1 Te Reo class is our largest with 11 students ranging from Year 9 through to Year 12. We also spent time making sure that everyone was using their school zone email, looking at our cluster website and accessing their classes on other websites.
We currently have 59 enrolments through the TaraNet campus – 37 Taranaki students and 22 from other parts of New Zealand. Only 4 Taranaki students have Taranaki teachers. This trend is similar to last year’s and shows a higher degree of collaboration happening with other clusters particularly for us the North Island clusters of Volcanics, CoroNet, Welcom & FarNet. We are also getting more efficient at ‘horse trading’ between clusters (getting students into classes) and classes are starting a lot more promptly at the beginning of the year as by Week 3 almost all of our students had already had their first class & met their teachers.
We have a great group of students all keen and excited to have the opportunity to learn in the different ways that elearning brings. I know that with support of their schools & whanau they will do really well this year.
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Monday, 18 February 2008

ePrincipals Hui – Rotorua

An ePrincipals’ Workshop day was held in Rotorua ahead of the annual Learning@Schools conference. Thank you Cam & Eddie for facilitating this day for us - it was a great opportunity to further develop the connections between all of us working within the New Zealand Schools Video Conferencing network. Some old friends and new as more clusters have join the eLearning network - some supported through ICTPD, some with EHSAS, many with interim funding for eLearning Cluster Leadership and some independent but all together for the same reason to collaborate together to improve opportunities and learning outcomes for our students.

There were ePrincipals from all elearning clusters: OtagoNet, FarNet, AorakiNet, Volcanics, Baylink, Cantatech, SILC, WELCom, TaraNet, CentreNet, CoroNet & WestNet; representatives from Paerangi, Westmount School, Southern Regional Health School, the Correspondence School, Kavanagh College, Aotea College & Manawatu College. Also off and on throughout the day were most of the team from the MOE eLearning team as well as Marg from Core-Ed. A group of mentor Principals from elearning schools participated in the workshop day and helped lead small group discussion.

The agenda for the day was around the nuts & bolts things like programmes & processes around the Virtual Learning Network and the enrolment of students; the requirements of leading an elearning cluster such as action plans, objectives, reporting & review including a research component. There was discussion about the role of the ePrincipal, cluster expectations, & leadership development and PD to support that. Although many of us VC together once a month we have never had such a complete turn out of personnel as we have today and our VC meetings tend to focus more on the management side of things than areas of professional learning such as working on developing our own leadership capabilities.

This was a really valuable day for me with lots to move me forward with in developing the TaraNet cluster:

  • Finding out what our contract is so we can develop this into an Action Plan 2008
  • Developing a PD programme drawing on the experience of other clusters
  • Exploring a new lms for TaraNet & our cluster schools – probably Moodle
  • Working with our eteachers to use Tandberg content server to record & save lessons, explore LAMs & exe editor for developing sequenced learning activities, Adobe Connect – how can we use this
  • Setting up my own VC connection from home so I can access all of my schools and connect with the wider network more readily
  • Working further with schools in our region who are looking at beginning with Video Conferencing
  • Developing relationships with our local tertiary (WITT) & community education
  • Further developing our lead teacher group and getting more support for them from school Principals – they are the ones who will really drive things in their own schools
  • Working with the wider community to further improve the broadband network in our region by investigating how we can develop a ‘loop’ that will in the future hook into national networks such as the proposed National Education Network (NEN) – look to Otago as they are developing this themselves now.

Many of these things have been sitting in my ‘must do some work on’ basket for some time but now with a full time position I feel like I can begin to make some headway with them.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Blog Free Zone

Yes it has been a blogfreezone for some time!
The Bard has been busy over the summer - a trip around the South Island & back to the Chathams, a house move, a job change and spending lots of time with my Ricky in real time now instead of skype & msn - yahoo. My laptop has been shut for a very long time. But back to work now & here i am back at the kitchen table office getting ready to begin as full time ePrincipal for the TaraNet elearning cluster.
I'll still be using this blog to write about whats happening in schools but i guess it will have a changing flavour from where i have been before - watch this space.
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