Monday, 31 August 2009

Student Centred Learning

In this news article “Jump to High School too big for some” differences in pedagogies are seen as contributing to students’ difficulties in adjusting to the transition to high school and advocates for a focus on maintaining a ‘middle school’ Yrs 7 – 10. So why is it that when you get to high school the teacher becomes the centre of learning and not the student? Why should we change to a focus on ‘middle school’ to ease this transition? Why not work on changing teaching styles to put students at the centre – where they belong.

“Kay Matheson, from Victoria University in Wellington, studied the differences in teaching between Year 8 (form two) and Year 9 (form three).

Matheson's study found Year 9 teachers were more teacher-centred than Year 8 teachers.

"The focus shifts from student-centred learning to teacher-centred learning," the study said. "This may be a contributing factor in the decline in mathematics achievement that has been shown to occur at this phase of education in New Zealand."

The study observed teaching at a secondary school and one of its feeder intermediate schools. Three teachers of mathematics at Year 9 from the secondary school and three Year 8 teachers from the intermediate school were videotaped, each for three lessons.

"In the type of statements used there were significant differences," the study said. "The Year 9 teachers used instructional and control statements more than the Year 8 teachers ... Year 8 teachers had a higher percentage of explanatory statements. The study found greater use of "confidence-building statements" by Year 8 teachers." read more

ICT Connect


ICT Connect was an initiative discussed at our recent PPTA ICT Task Force Meeting (full minutes here). Instigated by the New Zealand Computer Society, it is aimed at encouraging young people into ICT careers, this website gives examples of CVs, tips about first jobs, links to NZ tertiary's that offer ICT courses & profiles of people within ICT Careers. ICT Connect also organises for people from ICT careers to speak to students – I can feel another Digital Conversation topic coming up. The NZCS also support YMedia a great challenge for tertiary students.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Publishing in Print


I guess i have published huge amounts on this blog over the years but there’s something very cool about being published in print. To pick up a magazine or journal, thumb through the pages & see your own work there. Finally after much redrafting & updating, to & fro between the editor, the Journal of Distance Learning is out with a revised version of “Video Conferencing in Distance Learning: A NZ Schools’ Perspective”. Hopefully this will do more to raise the profile of the VLN and the important role it plays now & for the future of our students.

“Key: 'hundreds of millions' needed for rural broadband”

The 75/25% split for fibre rollout just won’t cut it for the rural sector (which includes most of the schools on the VLN). John Key shows this concern too – hopefully a glimmer of light for getting fibre to where it’s most needed!

Friday, 21 August 2009

PPTA ICT Task Force Meeting

Some of my notes from ICT Taskforce meeting which I skyped into today.

Open Education Resources
Wayne MacIntosh providing a free pre-conference workshop at ULearn.
About creating & sharing resources. Internationally OER is more than just this it is a social & educational revolution with free & open courses being offered –a good example of this is the work of Leigh Blackall & Otago Polytechnic.
Discussion around Copyright – ongoing concern – fundamental to where we are going to go in the years ahead. The present understanding is the the work of teachers is Intellectual Property owned by the BOT. 65% of schools hold a Copyright Licence.
Trevor Storr been doing some work around Creative Commons Policy for Schools

Key Competencies
Concern that these shouldn’t be assessed in isolation in a tick box manner but integrated across the curriculum areas.

ICTPD Review
Recently undergone a review process, can see a change to ICTPD contestable funding but can’t see any report back about the review process. This is separate from Vince’s work – some conflict with the idea that Core-Ed has the contract for national facilitation of the program & Core-Ed also does the research around this program.

SLANZA report
Upgrade of website School Libraries Association  - wiki for members
Inquiry learning & Web 2.0 tools workshops well supported.
Ongoing work on raising standards & getting qualified library staff. (Very poorly paid.) Study grants available from SLANZA for staff to gain library qualifications – encourage your staff to apply for these.
Building membership – 700 members currently
SCIS – government’s withdrawn sponsorship – schools having to pay for this now. SCIS provides a more uniform system across school libraries & makes school librarians jobs much easier. Government still supporting EPIC – 20 databases on there now across the curriculum.
Restructuring of National Library. Reduced funding  Fewer advisors & more electronic resources.becoming SYNZ (Services to Young NZers). Working with the VLN give example.
SLANZA Conference coming up in September  New Zealand Association of Computing, Digital and Information Technology Teachers (recently formed subject association)
Conference held at MIT in Auckland and Christ College in Christchurch (another ULearn preconference choice) – telepresence link. Conference programme currently under review aiming to cover all strands of Computing depending on volunteers offering workshops. Improve recognition of subject – aim to widen participants beyond computing teachers (Principals, BOTs)

New Zealand Computer Society
NZCS ICT Connect  developing a programme aimed at y9 & 10s to capture their interest in IT before they choose their senior curricula subjects. ICT professionals talking with our students.

Howard & Douglas presenting what the MOE doing – some notes:

Software licensing – contracts going forward announcement to be made in the next few days.

eMaturity – investigating a model for NZ looking at what others are doing for example. Becta Self Review –  Building ICT capability in schools – assisting schools to self review. Victoria University also doing some work on this.

TELA – maintaining existing scheme as it is – no changes here. Schools paying for laptops – anecdotal info only – don’t ask schools that info. 80% of Taranaki Schools are funding TELA laptops for their teachers.

Fibre Rollout
“If you want to design a country that is bad for broadband – NZ is it” Having said that though there is no shortage of fibre – who owns it? how can you access it?
Where does your school sit on the broadband map?
MED – leading this. Intending to make announcements – delayed to the end of August
Government’s broadband policy is to spend:

•$1.5 billion on ultra-fast broadband to reach 75% of the population

•$48 million for rural New Zealand to reach the other 25% of the population

Not encouraging for rural schools - MOE advocating to them to be more inclusive of more schools. Giving MED advice around schools.
Again until announcements are made we can’t be sure of anything.

Schools Network Upgrade Project
Government has pledged $150mil. for this including $34mil. made available earlier in the year in a stimulus package. This funding will be targeted at making schools ready for ultra-fast broadband.
This version of SNUPs will be similar in that it will provide 80% of costs with schools meeting the other 20% (generally schools have used their Property funding for this. Will be different in that it will be more tailored to the individual needs of the schools.
There has to be a balance between local decision-making and global procurement – often a tension between these – all to do with scalability.
Currently RFPs out on: the national implementation of the SNUPs programme, network switches, cabinets & patch cables.
The average drop cost of schools is around $25k each – though this can be highly variable depending on the proximity of school buildings to boundaries. Cost allocation shown below.


•Urban and rural schools will be included in SNUP 3
•Sequencing based on proximity to ultra-fast broadband services and interest from schools
•Selection criteria includes involvement in literacy and Māori language programmes and ICT PD initiatives
•Schools will be invited to apply but Expressions of Interest accepted
•Up to 800 schools likely to be broadband ready by 2011

NEN National Education Network – schools trialled with KAREN purpose to test potential NEN architecture.
Range of content & service provided eg end to end managed network, off site storage, cloud computing, centralising applications such as SNS, LMS, library etc, virtualisation of servers – allow schools to get on with the business of teaching & learning.

Fibre is key to this.


One thing is clear to me is that once the MED have made their announcement, we need to move quickly to ensure we get out the gate quickly with fibre to our schools so we can take advantage of MOE initiatives such as SNUPs, ICTPD funding opportunities, networked services…

ePortfolios Consultation Document need portability assurance over a long period of time (student’s school life), long term storage, retrieval & security of data. Interoperability over time & across schools.

KN Conference

Is in the process of being transitioned to a centrally administered tool. This is dependent on schools connectivity. Concerns about timeouts making eAsstle unworkable. Watchdog filtering has been attributed to making this worse – this filtering slows down a lot of student’s internet activity. Any concerns with eAsstle contact Lisa Rodgers at the MOE.

PPTA Meetings via VC
PPTA head office & field offices are now equipped with VC capability. In the recent PPTA News “Now, instead of being flown around the country to various meetings in PPTA offices, members can join meetings without having to leave their locality or even their own school.” Today there were over a dozen people in Wellington for our meeting from around the country, a few grumbles about start times & coordination of flights, shuttles from the airport & i think the occasional person an overnight stay(?).
So what are we doing about it? Some regional meetings PPTA meetings such as CoroNet have  already had participants VC from their own schools – ahead of the PPTA offices being VC capable. There was reluctance from some to VC, they liked to f2f, they were concerned about the facilitation of a VC meeting for the number involved, they were concerned about access to VC equipment. After some discussion we agreed to trial this. Currently I attend via Skype, though i could just as easily VC and i will continue to do that. We also had a member join in with our meeting via VC during the day. I think once people have been involved in an effective VC meeting they may begin to realise the value of being able to communicate in this way. The ICT Task Force should be leading the way, walking the talk – not just in our own schools but within the PPTA. We need to change our carbon footprint to a digital footprint.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Independent Learning @ Coastal

DSC01320 (Medium)DSC01321 (Medium)I was at Coastal today working with our C4 group & also sat in on Joel’s Stats lesson. The content of the lesson went right over my head ;-) but it was interesting to see how Joel taught with a  process of demonstration and modelling, flicking between his laptop, resources online & resources & real time working out under the document camera. We had some discussion afterwards & I left him with the question “What would you do if your document camera died tomorrow?” I was really impressed to visit Coastal’s new Independent Learning  Centre. This provides the space and resources that students’ need when they are learning outside of f2f classrooms. It was a bright and open space with a number of office type desks with computers, desks in board room arrangement & a couple of couches. What a great space for learning!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Visually Googling Yourself!

Thanks to David Warlick for sharing Personas – an online characterisation tool. I ran my name through it & this is what it came up with. For anyone who ever Googled themselves this is a great visual representation. Interesting also to watch it go through it’s search to come up with this final profile. Give it a go!


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Coaching eTeachers

We had another excellent leadership session with our eMentor Sue. Today’s session was focussed on ‘Coaching eTeachers’. Though what we discussed would be relevant to any professional coaching situation. Sue has done a lot of work in this area and believes that coaching is the most powerful professional learning tool we can utilise. Here are some of my notes from this session:

Two Coaching Tools – Shadowing & Reflective Questioning

Shadowing write a record of what the person you are shadowing is doing, suspend judgement.
Follow up as soon as possible with reflective questioning

Reflective Questioning
is holding up the mirror & getting someone to see themselves from someone else’s perspective, and to make their own judgements & decisions about what they might do differently. Sue modelled this to us as Carolyn interviewed her following this process. This is really a process of active listening & facilitating someone to reflect on their actions. Three levels of questioning:

  1. clarify the details
  2. clarify the purposes or reasons for their actions
  3. reflect on the consequences of the action

Assumptions of eTeachers

  • all have a unique style
  • professional growth is ongoing & never complete
  • development is due to professional learning
  • student learning is enhanced


  • Professional learning should be based in the ‘classroom’ (not just in a VC lesson but in all of the online teaching space & communications)
  • Encourage eTeachers to observe other eTeachers (peer coaching is highly effective but needs facilitating)
  • Encourage eTeachers to seek feedback from learners, teachers & parents
  • Encourage eTeachers to enlist peer support
  • Use both reflection in action, and reflection on action (Schon)
  • Each eTeacher will develop their own philosophy

imageCoaching Leadership: Building Educational Leadership Capacity Through Coaching Partnerships” Jan Robertson (recommended reading)

Sue facilitates these sessions so well – to help us frame where to next we were asked to think in light of our discussions what we would do next week, next month next year? I decided that for next week i would focus on revisiting Learning Design, next month i would ensure that VC staff meetings encompassed professional learning discussion and not just nuts & bolts and that for next year i would redesign our eteachers PD to enable more of what we talked about today.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Social Media Revolution

More food for thought.

Turbo-Charge TaraNet

“How good would it be?”….

There has been lots of conversations here in the last few weeks about a local initiative to bring broadband/KAREN to all Taranaki Secondary Schools. I have been working with the group who have been developing this proposal to link & consult with schools and to try & gain a school’s perspective for the proposal. You can read about these conversations at our Wiki. My thoughts are that any proposal that is going to enable all of our Secondary Schools (as opposed to New Plymouth schools only) has got to have some merit and needs to be investigated. I have reservations whether a KAREN connection is going to provide the services our schools will need & wonder if it will make it more difficult instead of easier to maintain our VC connectivity with the wider VLN Community. I know for sure that schools would jump at increased bandwidth but am wary about the data costs that may result. I know that there has been a lot of work done by other regional ‘loops’ and that we need to tap into their expertise as we work towards fibre connections for our schools. We are all waiting…. and waiting… to hear what the National Strategy will be that is to be announced anytime soon about the mechanism for fibre rollout & how schools will be supported with this.

Thursday, 13 August 2009




TaraNet’s C4 programme began this term with 21 students from across 6 of our schools joining together to Connect, Communicate, Collaborate & Communicate.

We meet through VC every week and use our Moodle site to communicate between times. So far we have defined our theme of C4 and you can see by their Wordle above that there are more C’s than just the 4. Student’s are learning to find their way around Moodle by successfully logging onto the site (this has been a problem for even some of our senior students…. i don’t know why….), they have completed their profile & uploaded a Fact File to tell me more about themselves. We have had a strong emphasis on ‘cybersafety’ - appropriate ways of behaving when they are online, and protocols for interaction & publishing online. One of their tasks was to work through our VLN cybersafety module and we engaged in some interesting discussion about issues that surround being safe online. We have started to look at blogging to connect more widely than our small group & i have started the C4 blog to model this.

Everything we do seems to take so long – we are already into Week 4 & it seems on the face of it we haven’t done a lot. For almost all of our students they have very little time to involve themselves in C4 activities. Only one school has cleared more time in the timetable for them. Almost all these students (being the G & T kids) are involved in anything & everything else that is happening at school too. I think this is the age old de-motivator for these types of bright kids. More stuff gets layered onto them – when really the extension work needs to be ‘instead of’ and not ‘as well as’ the everyday school stuff. BUT fantastic attendance from all of these students :-) Its good also to get around the schools as each week i am VCing alongside our kids from a different school.

Our first project is called “Postcards from Taranaki” – a short movie or presentation about our place. We hope to share with students from other clusters.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


Today i visited our eteachers at Waitara. We looked at connecting laptops to the VC for our Spanish student’s to present to their class. We also looked at how to download recorded VC from the Tandberg Content Server. All our eteachers have had their lessons recorded so that they can watch themselves teach & do some self review. I will also look at their classes & contribute some feedback. Below is a tutorial I prepared for them to help them through learning how to download for the first time. This is part of their appraisal process. There has been some interesting discussion amongst ePrincipals about the appraisal process for eteachers as initiated by Darren’s blog post “To appraise or not to appraise?” Whose responsibility should it be? The schools’ or cluster’s? I think that eteacher appraisal is about support & professional learning for eteachers & that ePrincipals have a role to play in this. See previous conversations about eteacher appraisal.

View tandberg_download tutorial here.

Friday, 7 August 2009



Today I chaired a Wordspace VC “Encouraging an Individual Approach to Writing.” St Mary’s students attended alongside me & were joined by students from Ashburton, Reporoa & Ruapehu. Writers Fleur Beale, Jennifer Beck & Brian Falk joined us from Christchurch. Thanks to these wonderful writers who shared so much from their own experience with our students. They had lots of practical tips from planning a story, developing character & plot, finding inspiration and getting published. They were very inspirational in their encouragement to be persistent & never give up if you wanted to be a published writer. One of their tips was for students to practise their craft & to publish where ever they could – online & enter lots of competitions. The Book Council has a Creative Writers Gallery where students can publish their work with the top five contributions being chosen every month. Writers Window was another good place for students to publish but with the redevelopment of TKI & English Online this has disappeared. Of course you can always publish your writing through your own blog or even publish & sell a book yourself. What is the future of fiction through Web 2.0?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

TaraMaths Quizz


Today students from 5 TaraNet schools competed in our TaraNet Junior Maths Quiz. We structured it a little differently this year by having the Quiz running through Adobe Connect to allow students to continue to look at the questions online while they were jumping in on the VC to answer the questions. Of course you could run it completely through Adobe without any VC but is good to see and talk to each other. Although I tried to keep it firmly structured with maintaining everybody on mute unless they were chosen as first in to answer a question, it soon became like trying to ref a rugby game as some endsites didn’t adhere to this & were trying to come in over top of each other. The students were really competitive & i can understand their frustrations at being ‘beaten to the buzzer’. Improvements for next year will be that the answers will be submitted over Adobe Connect using the chat box – this will keep a clear record of who is getting in first & clarify any answers missed. We had one contentious question, thanks Justine our adjudicator for picking this up, unfortunately this one question made a difference to the placings which were very close. It’s lots of fun to be involved in these events & would like to branch out into other areas (maybe current events) & it would be good to have our teams compete against schools in other clusters too. If you have any ideas for quizzes, or would like to join a challenge, let me know.

The winners this year were Stratford High – well done!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009