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

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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 :-)

Friday, 1 August 2008



Most weeks I have the opportunity to talk to my eMentor, Grey Tuck. Grey is recently retired Principal of Kurunui College & lead Principal of WelCom cluster.
Grey is someone i can bounce ideas around with towards meeting the goals of our TaraNet contract. His expertise is really useful to tap into both for myself and my cluster where he recently spoke to TaraNet Principals at our last meeting.

Another person I always have questions for is Eddie. Eddie is Senior Advisor with the MOE ICT Unit responsible for the VLN.