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
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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 :-)

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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