Wednesday, 20 August 2008

DEANZ Conference

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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

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