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.”