Thursday, 21 October 2010



It was a little disappointing this publication wasn’t launched at Ulearn earlier in the month. Though it will be released soon so go to Core-Ed to register your interest. This book is a collection of personal perspectives from a variety of people and aligns with the implementation of the national strategy for ICT in Education. I have contributed a chapter in the section Digital content & Community about “The Virtual Learning Network – Increasing Access for Learners.”

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Video Conferencing Technology Options

Many of the Secondary elearning clusters online classes are based on Video Conferencing between schools. Much of the VC equipment (in our cluster anyway) is now 8 years old - wow that must be over 100 in human years! It is really important for schools to have in their long term plans and budgets contingencies for the replacement of equipment. The following is an overview and comparison of VC solutions from the simple desktop through to HD VC.

Although VC is not the only way to connect learners online. In some ways i think VC can be a pedagogically unsound way to run classes as it is so easy to replicate the f2f transmission model of learning. Other options for online learning that schools can be looking at are the use of Adobe Connect for real time classes which has more functionality for the interactions of students and the further development and use of Web 2.0 tools and LMS classroom environments with a focus on putting the student at the centre of learning.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The French Connection


ULearn is a great place for making connections and in a round about way through those connections I have made contact with Pascale.

Merci beaucoup Pascale for profiling learning languages online!

Pascale shares examples of our TaraNet Y9/10 French class and the VLN Primary languages programme.

This is a great website for supporting NZ French teachers.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Creative Internet

The world IS full of interesting things. Just need the time to check it all out!

Friday, 30 July 2010

Screen Jelly – record your screen from your browser.


This would be very handy for our students to quickly and easily record themselves and share their work. Can see great potential for learning languages online.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Learning Languages Taster Classes

As part of the VLN Primary initiative i am working on, i run ‘Taster Classes’ to showcase to schools who want to know more about our project. I also run this class with students who are enrolled with us before they begin their language classes to prepare them for learning online. We cover such things as learning to use our online learning tools – the Adobe Connect classroom, our audio connection, and Moodle site. We also learn about effective ways of communicating with each other online and talk about the benefits of learning languages also.

I had a great session with the students from Auroa School today to prepare them to join their Spanish & German classes. If you are interested in you and your students attending a Taster Class, and interested in joining the VLN Primary initiative contact me :-)


Friday, 23 July 2010

Hawera High School Online with the VLN

PICT0016Hawera High School had their first VC class today. Here two students chat with their Physics teacher from Te Kura.  We are using Polycom PVX software and a logitech camera and the quality is pretty good. We do also have a polycom microphone and speaker set but this has been causing feedback with the speakers on the camera so still need to work out how to resolve this. You shouldn’t need to have expensive equipment to be able to hook into online classes. The challenge to come will be for teachers who are used to the functionality of zooming in on whiteboards, using document cameras or sharing their laptop through VC – desktop VC doesn’t provide the same ability because of the limitations of the camera. Surely then the answer looking forward to having access to high speed connections will be using webcams in Adobe Connect to provide a more interactive learning experience for both student and teacher.

Monday, 19 July 2010

TaraNet Students Rate their Online Learning


Half or our students think that learning online is just as good as face to face. While the other nearly half think that it is better than Correspondence. A big tick for the VLN :-)

Interesting to note too that one of the biggest challenges our students face with their online learning is the quality of their school internet connection – roll on UFB (ultra fast broadband)!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Truly Remarkable – NZPF Conference Queenstown

I have spent the day at conference today to share the message of the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) Primary/Intermediate initiative. Unfortunately when it came time to give my elevator speech my technology failed and i couldn’t get my presentation to run – aaagghhh! Anyway below is the presentation. Schools who are interested in finding out more and participating in this initiative should contact me. We are really keen to involve new schools who are wanting to collaborate with other schools to extend learning opportunities for their students through online learning. We have room for new enrolments next term in our German & our Te Reo classes, possibly a new Spanish class starting up also. Keen also to hear from any teachers, language teachers even more so, who want to learn to be online teachers and offer a class to other schools.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

One Day on Earth – Global Collaborative Project


“If you only had one day to document the world….What story would you tell?”

One Day on Earth - Original Trailer from One Day On Earth on Vimeo.

“Across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and inspired citizens will record the human experience over a 24-hour period. By participating in this historic event, you will help capture the diversity of life and culture on this planet. Together we will create a document that is a gift to the world.”

What a great opportunity to push back the walls of your classroom & collaborate globally – Get involved with your students!

Friday, 25 June 2010

GE4Skls Project

Today Kelvin Squire, Stratford Primary School; Chris Sharpe, Gen-I Taranaki; and myself presented to the New Plymouth Principals Group. We shared the success of our Gen-I Engineer for Schools Project, now half way through it’s fourth year of operation. The seeds of the idea for this project came originally from the DigiOps Community Technician Project. Whatever happened to this i wonder… Schools interested in joining our Taranaki initiative or wanting assistance in setting up something similar in their own areas should contact me.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What’s that Font?

Two interesting websites for fonts. The first one probably more useful than the second enables you upload an image of text and then goes through a process of matching to known fonts. Really useful to find a font, that you have seen online, want to use it & don’t know what it is. Just take a screenshot of a piece of text, upload it to What the Font, and go through a matching process.


This website is more fun than practical, allows you to create a personal font that is based on your handwriting script. Download a template of the alphabet and numbers, fill it in by hand, scan and upload back to the site. Not sure how you access and then install your new personalised font. Haven’t got that far – but a very cool idea.


Create a font from your own handwriting. Download a template, complete by hand (alphabet & numbers), scan and upload back to the Pilot Handwriting site.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

What Adults Can Learn From Kids

“Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs "childish" thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids' big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups' willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.”

Adora is available to connect online with teachers and students through CILC.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Class Tools @ Waitara

Today i visited Waitara High School for the first time this year! With my reduced hours i don’t get around the schools so much but it was very good to catch up with Amaia our online Spanish teacher and chat to other teachers about what they are doing with icts in the classroom. Amaia is one of our eteachers on the Virtual PD project and though she has found it challenging to be learning more about using ICTs in teaching and learning she is gaining much from her work with Hazel and the other  eteachers on the programme, and sharing with her colleagues back at school. Here is a handy little tool, i will be using this with the VLN Primary language classes:


‘ allows you to create free educational games, activities and diagrams in a Flash! Host them on your own blog, website or intranet! No signup, no passwords, no charge!”

Friday, 18 June 2010

Life Long Learning at Matapu School


I may be a little biased ;-) but a great write up in the local paper this week about Life Long Learning at Matapu School. Matapu are leading the VLN Primary Initiative. They provide French online for Year 7 & 8, & students participate in Spanish & German classes online. Jarad is working with other eTeachers nationally in a Virtual PD programme (the only Primary teacher), he will be a great asset in supporting others learning to teach online. Matapu School also freely give their students to work with our beginning eteachers as they grow in their confidence and capability as online teachers. Principal, Rick, is a Council member of the Virtual Learning Network Community. This is some of what Rick has to say about elearning at Matupu:

“This particular class offers a ‘blended learning’ approach; that is, subjects are delivered in both the traditional manner, and through the extensive use of information technologies.”
This dual focus sums up the classroom experience of the students at the school – blending the old with the new, and Rick sees this happening in more and more ways in the future.
“Technology has been in schools for a long time, but there’s a lot of development going on in integrating it further.”
One of these ways is through what is called the Virtual School’s Network (VLN); an online community of predominantly smaller schools where children and teachers share lessons with each other.
“One of the greatest problems a rural school faces is access to teachers of specialist subjects. By being on the VLN, our students can be involved in virtual lessons delivered by any number of specialist teachers around the country; we run these online and through teleconferencing.
“In fact, as part of the exploration of European culture, we’re audio conferencing with a Spanish teacher in Cambridge and a German teacher in Kaimata. Jarad is helping those schools out with French, from here at Matapu.”
Obviously, this kind of teaching has implications for the traditional classroom experience in terms of lesson delivery and assessment, but Rick definitely sees this as a way forward in education.
“As ‘virtual presence’ technology improves, all the best teachers will be able to teach those students who wish to learn through their own inquiries.
“There will always be a place for that traditional connection between a teacher and their students; teaching ‘via the clouds’ is another tool to enhance learning for their children.”

Thursday, 17 June 2010

eLearning eBooks

I have been looking at a couple of free ebooks about elearning available in the last few days which would be very handy to share with other teachers to guide them in their professional learning. The first couple are recent & Reach is only available as a free download for another couple of days. The others are ones that I have accessed in the past. As i looked up the links for the original downloads I found this presentation from Zaid which showcases more ebooks about elearning.

Web Tools Applied to Teaching


“20 webtools EFL ESL teachers can use to maximize learning.”

 Reach available for another couple of days


“Building learning communities and networks online means reaching beyond the walls of your classroom, the walls of your school, and even the walls of your own state, country, or continent to create connections. Once you reach out and make connections with other educators, professional learning like you have never experienced before starts to flow your way. You will soon find yourself in a state of continual learning. Taking advantage of the constant stream of information available today on the web at any given moment and using it for your own professional growth is what it means to learn in today's digital world. It is the ability to connect to the information and people you want to learn from. It is literally having the resource that is the Internet at your fingertips when you need it.”


eLearner Survival Guide


“This broad reaching collection of essays on e learning examines accomplishments, new directions, and challenges from many perspectives. The essays are arranged in categories, which include e learning and e learners, teaching and instruction, student en-gagement, learning communities, outcomes assessment and institutional leadership, all of which relate to learners and programs from college, K 12, career, to corporate training. Of special interest is a focus on successful outcomes for students and programs, and essays on often overlooked niches of learners, including generational differences (Gamers, Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y), stay at home mothers, working mother e learners, homeschoolers, bilingual online education and training.”

Facilitating Online a Course Leaders Guide


“Facilitating Online is a course intended for training educators as online facilitators of fully online and mixed mode courses. The Centre for Educational Technology (CET) produced a Course Leader’s Guide as an Open Educational Resource to assist educators and trainers who wish to implement a course on online facilitation within their institution or across several institutions.”

Using Moodle - Teaching with the Popular Open Source Course Management System


The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book


  • 87 projects.
  • 10 further resources.
  • 52 applications.
  • 94 contributors.
  • The benefits of using Web 2.0 applications.
  • The challenges of using Web 2.0 applications.
  • How the folk who ran these projects handled the issues...
  • ... And what they recommend you do if you run them.
  • What were the learning outcomes?
  • Coming of Age: An introduction to the new world wide web


    “A collaborative venture between 14 people from the USA, Canada, Thailand and the UK.
    editor Terry Freedman The main objectives of this free publication are first to inspire teachers to want to try some of these "new tools" (web 2.0) for themselves and with their classes, and then to provide practical advice and guidance on how to do so.”

    eBooks from The eLearning Guild!

    eBooks from The eLearning Guild are guaranteed to put a wealth of information at your fingertips! The Guild has two formats for eBooks. While each eBook is focused on one theme, some are collections of tips we gather from Guild members from around the world, and some are collections of articles from key industry leaders. In either case, you'll find valuable information that you can use in your organization!

    Wednesday, 16 June 2010

    Interactive Learning & Collaboration

    Today in my online wanderings & readings I found the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration.


    I found myself at CILC after reading 5 Ways Classrooms Can Use Videoconferencing. Which highlighted the 5 ways as:

    1. Connect with the Experts
    2. Virtual Field Trips
    3. Working together
    4. Accessing Previously Unavailable Courses
    5. Teaching the teachers

    These things I know, my colleagues and I have promoted and been engaged in these types of activities for many years throughout my involvement with the Virtual Learning Network (VLN).  It is interesting to see the different models of online learning such as CILC or the VLN and probably others, all contain the same basic elements. Thank you Derek, for your work with the LCO (Learning Communities Online) handbook, and the Greater Christchurch Schools Network, for simplifying these elements into the 3 Ps – Programmes, Projects & Professional Learning.

    Though online learning, is not just about Videoconferencing, there is a wide range of tools freely available to support Interactive & Collaborative Learning Online. If you’re not connecting & collaborating with other schools – try it out. Contact the Virtual Learning Network (VLN), VLN Primary Collaboration, ICTPD Network, Core-Ed or elearning clusters in your area.

    Thursday, 27 May 2010

    Lead the Learning Revolution

    This talk, and many others like it, are very inspirational and should be listened to and shared with colleagues but we can talk till the cows come home and nothing will change. Until we set up the structures for the learning revolution & have courageous leaders who will take the plunge and start walking the talk. What will it look like for our students, for our teachers, and WHEN will it happen??? In my work over the last few years i thought i could make a difference for my children at school. Well i only have two left at school, one finishing this year, and one with 3 years to go – Tick Tock. There goes the 21st Century slipping away…

    Tuesday, 23 March 2010

    Safe Social Networking with Smokescreen


    “Smokescreen game guides teenagers through dangers of social networking”

    Learning about safe social networking through scenarios & simulation inside an interactive game designed as a social network site ‘White Smoke’. What is different and very effective about this cybersafety/digital citizenship game is the immersive nature of being inside the social network and interacting with the characters in the scenarios and actively having to seek out through the maze that is a social network to find out what is really going on.

    This is a good one – send your kids there. (Most suitable for teenagers.)

    Monday, 22 March 2010

    Rural broadband: virtual teachers?

    An interesting concept ‘virtual teachers’! A time for the VLN to come out into the light and show people there are Virtual Teachers & students & we have been here for some time…

    Have your say. Good to see some elearning students and eteachers commenting on this article :-)


    “In the industrial age we went to school…
    in the information age school comes to us”


    Wednesday, 17 February 2010

    Step Change? Out of Step!

    clip_image002 How short sighted of this Educational Working Party to think they are coming up with a new idea to have students access courses from places other than their own schools! Short sighted too of TVNZ to discuss this with two Auckland Principals and one academic. Don’t they know that beyond the Bombay Hills, if they would bother to look, for the last seven years students from around the country have had increased choices and been able to personalise their own learning pathways through the Virtual Learning Network.

    The full report of Step Change can be found here as well as ACTs minority report Free to Learn (which is a lot scarier).

    TVNZ news reports here, here & here.