Monday, 30 March 2009

PPTA ICT Task Force


A new look PPTA website is back online. This time more interactive with their own blog & opportunity to leave comments & join discussion within PPTA communities.

The ICT Taskforce is one of the communities here. As a member of this committee representing my geographical area Taranaki & i think also Wanganui/Manawatu please contact me if you have ICT issues you want to be followed up on by the PPTA

“The ICT Taskforce was set up by the  PPTA Annual Conference in 2004 and was charged with “monitoring, researching and reviewing issues around the implementation of ICT, liaising with appropriate bodies and reporting regularly to PPTA Executive and to Annual Conference “…(and to) serve as a clearing house for ICT development in schools by sharing and publicising best practice.”
With this in mind representation on the committee is deliberately broad with ten regional representatives, along with separate representation from low-decile schools, the Correspondence School, SLANZA (School Library Association of NZ), PPTA Executive and Te Huarahi.  
The Taskforce meets up to four times a year. At its meetings it considers ICT issues that members and schools have brought to its attention, prepares advice for teachers on issues around ICT in schools”

Friday, 27 March 2009

Font Conference

I love this little movie found over on edu.blogs – Thanks Ewan.

Great characterisation of ‘The Fonts’ ;-)

Also on YouTube

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Think Tech

Secondary Futures is launching a new website with an online policy debate

“The ThinkTech site will be launched at Te Papa, Tuesday 31 March at 7.30pm with New Zealand's first policy debate, on-line and live. Radio New Zealand's Sean Plunket will facilitate an informal discussion: 'How will technology change the way we live and learn in 20 years time?' You can send in comments and questions, live by registering now.”

“ThinkTech is a New Zealand first – it’s a tool we’re calling a D-logue because it is set up to create a public policy discussion in the form of wide-ranging debate where all voices are equally heard and that can be owned by the participants in the debate.

Anyone can share their ideas and knowledge, upload reports or videos, join meetings, challenge thinking, chat to each other, and network - to have a dialogue.

Our goal is to share New Zealander’s vision for the Place of Technology in schooling by modelling the vision: that while the scope of new technologies defies prediction, they will undoubtedly have an impact on education, on living and on working. People need to keep up with these changes, talk to each other and think about what they might mean for Aotearoa and how that fits with our values.”

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A Day in the Life of a DLO

image  Trevor & Vicki (VLN ePrincipals) attended “A Day in the Life of – Digital Learning Resources” Conference hosted by MOE last week.

Thanks Trevor for sharing your notes with us:

“Due to fog at Timaru I didn't get to Wellington until lunchtime. A mini speech/introduction by Penny Carnaby, Chief Executive and National Librarian made me realise that much of the work on repository systems has already been done by the national library and Tertiary Organisations eg

We need to ensure that we gain maximum benefit from the $$$ and time that has already been spent by others.

Next was a speech by Yong Kim outlining a Korean Cyber Home Learning System that was a bit like the VLN but several orders of magnitude larger. Unfortunately the funding model was not obvious.

Repository talk by Brent Thomas

Intersting talk about DLO metadata. They developed an NZ version of LOM, whereas the National Library use Dublin Core. If schooling uses the dublin core then alignment/merging of DLO's with national initiatives will be trivial (lol).

Wayne Mackintosh. Some people are inspirational, fewer of international importance and even less visionary. Wayne Mackintosh is certainly visionary with his aim of providing free educational resources for the whole world by 2015. The wikieducator project

is still under development but is one that I whole heartedly support.

If we can get teachers and schools to collaborate using wikieducator then this will be a significant gain.

Drinks and nibbles. As ever, the real conversations happened here. I had a long chat with Wayne Mackintosh and Jim Tittsler, sys admin for wikieducator about the work that jim has outlined here:

One of they key ideas about sharing resources is that of contextualistion for repurposing. I have never found a resource that I didn't want to change in some way. We need to make resources easy to change and develop for local use (contextualisation), so when we develop resources for sharing it is important that we remove reference to /local/ stuff - we decontextualise them. I also think we need more formal policies on copyright and resource creation by teachers and that perhaps the MOE needs to take a lead here.

Summary: great one dayer. I wish you all could have heard Wayne Mackintosh.”

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Students Experiences of Learning in Virtual Classrooms

ePrincipals & eMentors met with NZCER researchers Rachel Bolstad & Magdalene Lin to discuss the Interim Findings from an online survey they conducted with our students as part of a wider Research project of students studying through the VLN. This is just one stage of the research project. The next phase of the research process is to hold focus group meetings with elearning students & eteachers to dig deeper into the findings that are emerging.

Some key messages so far are about teaching & learning (this is relevant to face to face classrooms also) and about the importance of school support for our elearning students.

My Notes from our Meeting:

What sort of students surveyed? Majority of VC students like their teachers & like learning

What takes place during a VC class? Patterns show teacher directed. Exchanges between students were less common.

image What takes during study time? Completion of homework, discussions with other VC students in school. More likely to approach teachers within school before contacting VC teacher for help.

VC in general greater independence in learning but at expense of feeling less supported & less confident.

I really liked Conor’s point about needing our students to be responsible learners as opposed to independent learners. As ‘independent learner’ has connotations that they are on their own – when we know that it is important part of the learning process to be able to collaborate & work with others.

Comparing VC class to least & most favourite classes:

Least favourite & most favourite classes comparision comes from Competent learners @ 16 Project – rationale for classroom experiences.

Closer to most enjoyed classes than least enjoyed

Half of students don’t like asking the teacher questions in VC (similar to least fav. Class)

Generally students having few opportunities to lead interactions.

Relevance of learning:

More willing to drop VC subjects than favoured subjects

Students missed the hands on & practical, outside the classroom and so this tended to be compared to least favoured subjects

Use of ICT relatively uncommon as in other f2f classes

Suggest improvements – more interaction with VC teachers – more sessions, Communication & feedback between sessions, checking up on them, offering support, more interesting teaching, clearer information about their course. More support from school – VC rooms, timetabling, books, teacher supervision. More contact with other students in class.

There was nothing unexpected in these interim findings. All of the issues raised are things that ePrincipals are working hard at to improve for our students and i believe over time we are beginning to make a difference :-)

Monday, 23 March 2009

Taranaki TELA Laptop Survey

In response to the BOT of a school, that will remain nameless, when they say "No BOTs in other Taranaki Schools pay for teacher laptops"

Check out the results of our Taranaki TELA laptop survey.

Approximately 90 Taranaki schools were invited to complete this survey. Over a third of schools responded (36). Schools contributing were a mixture of Primary, Kura, Intermediate, Secondary & one Area School.

80% of Taranaki Schools are funding TELA laptops for their teachers.

Comments from survey participants reflect the importance of access to teacher laptops not only for elearning but administration as well.

Schools were also asked if they would prefer to be funded to provide their own teacher laptops or continue with the TELA scheme.


Those who answered no they would prefer the centrally funded & organised model, commented that if they funded their own laptops they might end up with out-dated equipment if schools did not roll over laptop leases, that they would not have access to the level of technical support they currently have through TELA & they would have more administration if they ran their own schemes.

IMHO Teacher Laptops have been one of the most important ICTPD initiatives. They have given more teachers hands on opportunities to learn more about using ICT & so for many making them more confident in using them with their students in the classroom.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Inglewood eLearners


Today i met with the elearning students at Inglewood High School. They are enrolled in L1 Economics, L2 French, L3 Accounting & L3 Economics.

There is a little previous experience in this group with Daniel as a second year elearner taking 2 VC subjects this year. I suggested to this group that he take on the role of Student Rep for their group :-)

I was just checking up with them on how their classes were going, how they were studying in their non-contact periods and if they were online checking their emails & using their online class websites. It was very basic catchup stuff but beyond that we had some interesting discussions about online learning & what worked for them. I discussed the interim results of the student survey (talked about here) and they generally agreed with the main findings. Some of them went onto tell me about their L3 Economics Moodle site and what a difference it was making to their learning. They said they always had lots of work to do there, there was lots of Hot Potatoes activities which they found really engaging (even the essay question answer type), and they enjoyed working in this way. They said they were also motivated to keep up with their study by the responsiveness of their eteacher giving them regular feedback to the work they were doing online and also because they could see a lot of work had gone into creating this learning resource they were motivated to put the work in too. This is great feedback about the motivation & engagement of online learning environments. This is a class i would like to visit.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

More on School Zone

image Found the School Zone Wiki here is the blog:

Ramblings from the School Zone

An interesting article that explains the Qos that School Zone offers & the difference between SZ & ordinary Broadband - especially important for VC schools.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wiki Schoolzone


School Zone now has a wiki site with all the information you need about managing your School Zone connection:

At Learning@School they announced some upcoming changes to how School Zone services will be 'unbundled'. No news on the wiki site yet but the plan as described to me was to split the services into three separate areas and to change the pricing structures.

A new School Zone will see services split into Connectivity (including Video for VC), Security (Sina blocking & filtering) & Web Services (Email & My Desktop).

This is good news for schools who have balked at switching to SZ just to gain the VC connectivity.

Also promised was improved speeds by the upgrading of copper circuits & enabling of fibre. The bad news is that fibre connectivity still has a huge price tag attached to it approx. $1500 a month.

The promise of improved connectivity must be linked to the investment in infrastructure by the Government.

A local loop here in Taranaki would be great - we know the fibre is there - just the cost of tapping into it is huge - who will pay???

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Engaging Teachers in Reflective Discussion

As I prepare to have conversations with eTeachers around Performance Appraisal & Goal Setting I have been reading through some Leadership PD material from about 'Conversations for the Professional Teaching Career'

It discusses how to align conversations with the different stages of a teacher's professional career leading from more Direct Conversations with Novice teachers to more Reflective Conversations with Expert teachers, with reference to John Hattie "Distinguishing Expert Teachers from Experienced & Novice Teachers." This is particularly important for eteachers as though they may have many years of experience & possibly be an expert classroom teacher, with the change to being an eteacher they may find themselves feeling that they are right back at the Novice stage. 

One of the challenges for me is how to engage teachers in reflective practice without being judgemental while at the same time reinforcing the requirements of their unique teaching position and motivating them to change their teaching practice to better meet the needs of our elearning students.

Interim results from an NZCER research project highlight that from our student's perspective eteachers generally have not adapted their teaching strategies from the face to face environment. (unpublished)

There is a lot of work to continue with eTeacher PD & the development of their online classes. ePrincipals are currently beginning collaborative work on creating a shared framework for eLearning Design.



Picture courtesy 
(more explanation there)

Monday, 16 March 2009

Education is the Future - What is the Future of Education?

Thanks to Inka for sharing this info about an online conference for students 14+ on 23rd April

The topic for discussion at conference is Education is Future - What is the Future of Education?

Will be interesting from a teacher's perspective to listen to Student Voice on this theme.

I will be encouraging my students to attend & hook in myself to check out what students have to say & their recommendations on the Future of Education.

This is a UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network


On the same theme of is our NZ Secondary Futures Project Worth a visit if you haven't been there before.


Monday, 2 March 2009

TaraNet Stats

Our enrolments continue to grow this year within TaraNet & nationally:

68 TaraNet students, 46 out of cluster students

TaraNet Subjects: Te Reo L1, Art History L3, Ag/Hort L3, French L3, Stats L3, L1 Spanish, Physics L3

Subjects from other Clusters: Accounting L1, L2, L3; Art History L2, Biology L2, Calculus L3, Chemistry L2, L3, Classics L3, Computing Y9/10, L3; Economics L1, L2, L3; Graphics L2, Human Bio L1, Music L1, Physics L2, Te Reo L3, Aviation Engineering L3

28 new classes available across the cluster.

Most classes full with 10 – 12 students & max sites.

VLN National Stats

Current Total Schools:252

Current Total Teachers:154

Current Total Courses:199

Current Total Classes:212

Current Total Enrolments:1401

Phew! No wonder it's been such a busy start to the year.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Summer - Just a Memory Away

By popular request from my colleagues here are the pics from our summer in South America.

We had an awesome time away :-)

I thought it would be hard to get back into work again but I have been so busy with new enrolments & starting up classes that this first month back has gone by in a blur. This must be the longest dry spell on the blog for awhile! But back into it now.