Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Charter Schools vs the Public Good

Although this video relates to cyber schools in the US, it hits some key points about potentially how destructive charter schools can be to public education.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Network for Learning

Last week the VLN Community met with Marg McLeod, Acting Group Manager, Curriculum Teaching and Learning, and Eddie Reisch from the MOE to discuss the proposed Network for Learning.
‘The Network for Learning, available progressively from 2013, will provide schools with affordable, safe, ultra-fast internet access as well as a range of online content and centrally-procured services.’
It was great to see such a good turn out from the VLN Community, including many Principals from various clusters, to listen to Marg and be involved in discussion and consultation prior to the development of this initiative. As Marg discussed with us, here in NZ we have a more devolved approach to elearning developments compared to many other countries that push things through from the top down and the VLNC has an important role to play as early adopters. So now is the time to make sure you are involved in the consultation process, beginning at Learning@School and following up with regional seminars in 2012.
The following are some notes from Marg’s presentation":
UFB in Schools – Strategic Issues:
  • Use of ICT in classroom teaching and learning
  • Changing patterns of educational provision
  • Formal and informal learning
  • Supporting learning networks for professional practice
  • Public engagement on education issues
  • More informed parents, communities, and then general public
Expected Benefits:
  • more equitable access to online learning opportunities
  • more effective sharing of resources and knowledge
  • reduced ICT complexity and cost
  • increased operational efficiencies
  • improved connection and collaboration between learners, teachers, school leaders and school communities.
  • opportunity to move to more modern learning environments that support 21st Century education delivery
  • lift in student achievement through greater engagement driven by innovative approaches to teaching and learning
Why UFB in Schools?:
  • Online world now integral to students’ lives
  • Increasing evidence that learning in online environments can significantly enhance engagement and lift achievement.
  • Particularly effective for students who are underserved by traditional teaching methods
  • Potential for increasing collaborative learning opportunities can particularly suit preferred learning styles of many Māori and Pasifika learners
What the MoE is Currently Doing:
  • Providing information and support for schools pre, during and post UFB connection
  • Supporting schools in upgrading internal network infrastructure to be ‘UFB-ready’ via SNUP
  • Providing hardware and software
  • Supporting schools in building e-Learning capability
  • Establishing a Network for Learning to optimise the Government’s investment in UFB to improve outcomes for learners
KAREN & the NEN trial?:
  • Ministry currently undertaking trial with 102 schools, using REANNZ’s KAREN network as backbone
  • Trial investigating issues and opportunities for schools in accessing online content and services over a dedicated network
  • Findings are informing planning for development and implementation of the Network for Learning
  • KAREN’s role in the Network for Learning will be determined as part of procurement process
A N4L for NZ Schools:
  • Progressively available to schools from 2013
  • Intention is all schools will be able to join
  • Not mandatory – therefore benefits need to be clear and compelling
  • Network will be the channel for education content and service delivery
  • Major implications for the way the Ministry and other agencies deliver content and services to schools

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Taking a Collective Responsibility for Educating our Children

'If we could put all our teachers and all our children in one room how would we organise learning?' Trevor discusses the potential of UFB to enable us to approach learning in innovative ways but it is down to us to work collectively to realise those opportunities for our students.
It won't happen automagically for us when we switch on the fast internet switch, we have to make it happen ourselves! So get up and start learning with others beyond the walls of the classroom. VLN Primary schools are already starting down that journey, some on Number 8 wire & satellite connections - roll on UFB!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Enabling e-Learning web presence - NOW LIVE

Thanks to Hazel from VPLD to alerting us that the new Enabling eLearning website is now live.
This web presence is the Ministry’s online ‘hub’ for ICT related education resources and programmes in New Zealand. It brings together everything that school leaders and teachers need to develop their the skills, knowledge and confidence in using e-learning.

This web presence consists information, research and resources in the Enabling e-Learning website supported by an online community in the Virtual Learning Network.

From the Enabling ELearning Team:
"Enabling e-Learning, the Ministry of Education’s new online ‘hub’ for ICT-related education resources and programmes in New Zealand, is now live on TKI.
About Enabling e-learning
Enabling e-Learning, is the Ministry of Education’s online ‘hub’ for ICT-related education resources and programmes in New Zealand, bringing together everything that school leaders and teachers need to improve their e-learning practice. Enabling e-Learning will continually evolve and change in response to feedback from New Zealand schools and communities. We want to hear from you about what you’re doing in the e-learning space, so please visit us regularly and share what works and what doesn’t, and all your news and views.
You can connect with Enabling e-Learning in the following ways:
● Explore our dedicated area on TKI
● Participate in communities of interest on the Virtual Learning Network
● Follow us on Twitter
● Post your comments on our Facebook page 

Monday, 3 October 2011

21st Century Teaching & Learning - NZCER Research Project - Be Involved!

A call from NZCER to be involved in a new research project on 21st century teaching and learning
NZCER is beginning a new research project for the Ministry of Education entitled 'Supporting 21st century teaching and learning for New Zealand students'. The project aims to develop a vision for what future learning might look like for New Zealand students and to contribute to educational futures thinking and policy development. Further details about the project can be found on NZCER's website.

Can you contribute to this research?
We would like to hear from principals, teachers, and others who work with school-aged learners (approx 5-18 years old) about their innovative educational practices and ideas for teaching and learning for the 21st century.

From mid-September 2011 we are inviting schools that teach in English-medium, and others who support young people's learning, to contribute their stories of innovative practices and future-focussed thinking through an online submission form, where you can also read more about the kinds of practices we are most interested in hearing about. 
I know that there are lots of great things happening in schools across the VPLD community - so make a submission to contribute to this research!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

VPLD 2012 - Expressions of Interest now open

The Virtual Professional Learning Development programme (VPLD) team is very keen to hear from NZ teachers, Principals, APs and DPs, who are interested in participating in the next VPLD intake (programme beginning in February 2012).

The VPLD programme offers flexibility of choice, time and approach, and is designed to fit in with what you are already doing as teachers and/or leaders.  Each participant is partnered with a mentor, with whom they meet online using Adobe Connect (a Web conferencing tool that enables interactive synchronous communication), or Skype, once a month for between forty-five to ninety minutes. The programme also provides professional learning through engagement in the VPLD professional online Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP offers a safe environment where you can discuss and challenge alternative points of view about pedagogy and practice, across disciplines and sectors.

The literature suggests that the duration and frequency of effective PLD are important - little and often over an extended period of time being the most effective. Participation in the VPLD programme is therefore over the course of three years. In the final year, you will be encouraged to develop your own mentoring skills, and are scaffolded to work with someone of your choosing in a mentor role.

The overall aims of the programme are to raise the professional knowledge and skills of participants, while also accelerating students' achievement of learning outcomes.
If accepted onto this programme you will develop your own learning goals around projects that interest you, framed within an inquiry process.
Find out more about the VPLD programme:
Please use this form to submit your expression of interest.
To discuss participation, for yourself or a colleague, contact Hazel Owen, Rachel Roberts, or Clarrie Yates
The VPLD programme is part of the eLearning Professional Learning and Development programme, managed on behalf of the Ministry by Te Toi Tupu, a PLD consortium that comprises CORE Education, Cognition Consulting Education, NZCER, Waikato - Tainui College of Research and Development, and The University of Waikato.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Moodle Help Musings?

moodle_questionsThere are a host of Moodle resources out there for the novice Moodler but what is worth spending your precious time on? This was a question i was asked recently, where is the best place to go?

Although i must confess i haven't extended myself in the Moodle arena, since i came to grips with the basics of setting up and developing courses, these are the resource links i would recommend to others:

  • WelCom clusters Moodle help page because Anton their ePrincipal is doing a fantastic job, always working with teachers on Moodle, i would be confident that this is all relevant to what your average NZ teacher is wanting to do;
  • 2 Minute Moodles aiming for simple bite size Moodle help;
  • Moodle for NZ schools NZ Moodle community, lots of screencasts, & forum, good to subscribe if you want to hook into some local expertise. 
  • If you want a full reference you can download the Moodle book. It is free & published by the Moodle developers.

Your recommendations? Please share Smile

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Password strength

Makes you rethink doesn't it? How many passworded logins would the 'average' person use?
What web activity does the 'average' person engage in? Would be interesting to know (if there is such thing as an average person).

Light at the end of the Broadband tunnel?

This release from Minister Joyce's office today gives us hope that we are soon approaching the light at the end of the tunnel for a level internet playing field for all of our schools.

"the remaining 60 schools that are located in very remote places will have access to improved terrestrial or satellite wireless broadband services...Contracts for the remote schools are expected to be entered into progressively over the coming months so that these 60 remote schools have access to the improved services by the start of the 2012 school year"

Wahoo :-) our online classes will work for us so much more effectively from 2012 if all goes as promised...

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Core Foundation Awards

Check out the new Foundation Awards from Core Education. Take this opportunity to further your professional learning through this opportunity! You can see 2010 award winners and their submissions here.


CORE 2011 Foundation Award applications NOW OPEN!
CORE would like to enable worthy educators to pursue professional learning opportunities – we invite you to apply for the following:

1. The CORE Education Travel Scholarship
Recognises New Zealand teachers’ and leaders’ contributions to educational thought by awarding a travel grant to attend an international education event.

2. The CORE Education Awards for Professional Learning and Reflective Practice
Recognises teachers and institutions that can demonstrate how they have applied lessons from professional learning to improve their practice.

There are two types of award:
i. Individual Award, one each for:
Early Years

ii. School/Centre Award, one award

Applications close Monday 29th August 2011
More information and applications:

CORE Education Foundation

Friday, 5 August 2011

Talkwheel – just another collaborative tool?

I came across this new tool this morning as i was browsing through my rss feeds. I had just been talking to a colleague about strategies and online tools that would enable our students to interact more with each other in class, instead of just the teacher led discussions and interactions. I know there is no such thing as a silver bullet solution but could this be a tool that our students would be keen to engage in?

To me it looks like an old fashioned threaded forum but attractively packaged to be more visual than simple text flowing down the page. Though with any tool, it depends on the skill of the teacher/facilitator to engage students in learning - we can't and shouldn't rely on the 'gee whiz' factor of online tools alone to hook our kids into learning.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Hurry in for Adobe Connect Workshops

Adobe Connect is the tool we are using for our VLN Primary real time online classes. If you are interested in learning to use Adobe for online teaching, or professional learning you are welcome to register for these workshops.

Monday, 23 May 2011

PETs and how they are changing our lives!

PETs aka Personal Electronic Toys or for me lately my new iPhone. At the risk of sounding trite these are really 'the best thing since sliced bread'. Here is what i shared on a discussion forum recently about how i use my iPhone:

"I have the usual stuff like gmail, calendars, my feeds, news (Herald, Stuff, TVNZ). It's easier to run all these off an app than through Safari. I like iTorch turns your phone into a torch very handy when you are looking for your keys in the dark. Photosynth is cool for creating panoramic pics and sharing - to think how i used spend hours doing this with carefully stitched together pics in downloaded software on my computer - now you can do it with a few clicks! I keep my translater handy when i am teaching my French class. Shopshop is great to keep my shopping list, make my list and tick it off as i go round the supermarket, or email it directly to my darling and he does the shopping. I love BigOven and haven't opened a recipe book for ages, though glad i have got a plastic cover for my phone now it is starting to get grubby from kitchen use ;-)

There is an app you can get that lets you connect and display on wireless projectors. Can't remember what it is called but very cool to project straight from your phone onto the big screen in the classroom. For more cool apps check out LifeHacker.

I love my iPhone, every teacher & principal should get one so they would see how awesome these are and let our kids use their itouches & phones at school! (maybe TELA should switch from laptops to iphones)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Snacking on Digistore

Check out the opportunity to learn more about using Digistore with their free facilitated sessions "Online Snacks".
Digistore has been around for some time now and continues to grow in it's range of learning objects, take the time now to work out how you can make the most of this valuable resource.
Organise your staff to attend a session together (sign up here) or join in on Rocky's session with VPLD in August.
Learn how to search Digistore effectively, create learning pathways and learn more about Digistore & Software for Learning with DigiAdvisors Suzie & Rocky.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Changes to PLD for Schools

At the end of 2010, the MoE went through a process of retendering all it’s professional learning development (PLD)contracts for NZ schools. More information can be found about how to access PLD here on the Educational Leaders website.

One of the big changes in the elearning area was a move away from the ICTPD clustering model to a regional model “Blended e-Learning Professional Learning and Development Programme” in addition to this there are other supporting initiatives such as VPLD (Virtual Professional Learning & Development) – which i now have a facilitative role in. You can see an overview of the VPLD programme here. The PLD projects in the elearning area, as well as other areas, are provided by Te Toi Tupu. Check out their website to find more information about Te Toi Tupu and what programmes they are providing.


“Te Toi Tupu - Leading Learning Network consortium (CORE Education, The University of Waikato, Cognition Education, The New Zealand Council for Educational Research and Waikato Tainui) are providers of professional development and professional learning programmes.”

Monday, 4 April 2011

Bright Sparks @ Matapu School

Today students from Matapu School got to explore some electronics with Andrew Hornblow from Bright Sparks. It was a very quick introduction for them, as the main purpose of Andrew’s visit was to show me how he works with kids and what Bright Sparks is all about. Never the less, though the sessions weren’t linked to any integrated learning objectives, they were very engaging, lots of fun and we learnt a lot about circuits, electronic components, control & programming. In fact it was very cool, creating preprogrammed ‘robots’ or cars, with a garish array of LED lights, having burn off competitions, developing sensors for measuring light and temperature and seeing how the data can be logged into the computer.

My focus was to look at how we could take this into an online environment through the VLN Primary initiative and extend this type of learning to students around the country – particularly to those who would not otherwise get this opportunity (that is the big picture philosophy behind the VLN Primary). Bright Sparks has a website and a club for students who are keen on electronics where they can earn points and access free electronic equipment, project ideas, mentoring support and enter Bright Sparks competition.

This is definitely a programme that could be adapted to the online environment, through real time tutorial support in our Adobe Connect classrooms and one that would have benefit younger students by introducing them to electronics and bringing those keen ones into the Bright Sparks fold. The challenge now is to find someone with the time and expertise to work with us to develop and deliver and online introductory electronics class for our kids….. I will keep knocking on doors.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Mount SPA – ICTPD workshops

Here are the presentations used in today’s workshops. Please feel free to give me feedback or comments in the comments box below this blog posting. Hope you find it interesting digging a bit deeper into some of these things – let me know how you go with this and add me to your skype contacts :-)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Cracking Adobe Connect

Finally i have worked out how to enable my students to be more active participants in our Adobe classroom without having to promote them with permissions that will allow them to ‘accidentally’ muck around with layouts & settings etc.

The secret is to assign individuals enhanced rights to only certain areas within the Adobe classroom – these can be turned on or off at any time – but need to be applied each time you come to class. Now they can write on the whiteboards, notes and upload files etc

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Global Connections – Join the Roof of the World Tour!

NZ schools are warmly welcomed to participate with their students in this ‘ANZAC’ connection with the the people of the Himalayas and celebrating the work of Sir Edmund Hillary's Himalayan Trust during their 50 Year Anniversary.

Visit their website to join or contact Maggie. 


Roof of the World Tour Spreading laughter and fun… sharing cultures, sparking imagination : 20 April- 20 May

Come and visit the Himalayas with us as we travel to 25 schools, teach juggling and theatre skills and learn about life in the highest mountains in the world. Ask us questions and watch our site for updates on the adventure.
Our group are a performing troupe, 2 Aussies and 2 Kiwis, performing for 25 schools in the Himalayas in April and May this year. We have been invited to provide performances in physical theatre and comedy as part of the 50 year celebrations of Sir Edmund Hillary's Himalayan Trust. While we tour we will also be finding out a lot about Hillary's legacy, the history of the country and a range of other lessons. We will be posting quizzes, hosting a forum and providing lesson plans and teaching resources free to use. We are keen to enable as many NZ schools to participate.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

VLN Primary Kicking Off for 2011

Things are ready to roll with the VLN Primary online classes for 2011. We are starting with confirmed classes this school term of Te Reo, Japanese, French, German & Astronomy. In the wings, to be confirmed and starting from next term will be Spanish, more Japanese & Te Reo classes, Gaelic & Electronics.

It is great to be continuing with a small but solid base of schools who collaborated last year and to welcome a growing number of schools to the VLN Primary community. I have been running Taster Classes the last couple of days (and on request for anyone interested in learning more). We have had quite a number of students from schools as diverse as Thorndon in the heart of Wellington city, to Kaingaroa a school in a lovely and remote Chatham Islands fishing settlement and smalls schools in the hill country of Eastern Taranaki.

Taster classes are designed to familiarise students with the online learning environment and iron out any technical problems schools may encounter when they connect, before they come into our scheduled classes. Students learn about the technology and they also learn how to communicate & interact with others in a way that is quite different from face to face classrooms. These classes allow schools to get an inside look into how online classrooms work before they decide to make a commitment to participate.

One of the students said ‘This is so cool, I can’t wait to start my class!’ Though i responded with a reality hit back to say, ‘Yes i hope you feel like this every week till you complete your class.’ I don’t want students and schools to be instantly hit by the WOW – novelty factor but understand this is an ongoing  commitment to learning. Even so, i was also thinking ‘Me too!’ Looking forward to teaching my class on Friday!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Christchurch Schools – Where is the vision?

“Re-locatable classrooms may be put onto sports grounds to house more than 10,000 pupils whose schools are closed”

I continue to be disappointed by the lack of vision our Ministry of Education has in responding to the needs of Christchurch school children – both immediate and long term.

What is this huge preoccupation with bricks & mortar as the necessary foundation of schooling for our children? Why should we be relocating buildings to create overcrowded schools when learning centres can be (and are being) set up within the community? Why should you be encouraging teachers from around the country to offer relief assistance when eteachers around the country are willing and able to take on more students into their classes and provide new classes? 

As the Christchurch Council bravely starts to espouse a vision of a very different city rising from the rubble how is a vision being developed for education? Where is the creativity in changing ideas and approaches to meet the learning needs of our students?

Quakeboarding: Photo by Alicia Krueger
Quakeboarding: Photo by Alicia Krueger

The VLN Community is well positioned with the networks, people and expertise to help make a difference now and into the future for so many of these affected students but this requires some higher level thinking on behalf of the MoE and strategic planning and support.

Here is the VLN Community response:

“The VLN Community is working now to increase capacity in all our existing online classes as well as exploring how new classes and online learning support can be put in place to take more of our displaced students. There are a number of teachers who have indicated their willingness to support these students with keeping up with their learning, some who are even willing to do this in their own time. With some increased staffing from the MoE there is quite a pool of experienced eteachers that can come online and offer learning opportunities for these kids. The VLN Community can give professional support for teachers who want to connect with their students online by assisting them with accessing and using online tools available to them through the MoE.”

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Rainforest Connection


Check out Rainforest Connection. An opportunity for your students to connect to experts in the rainforest of Belize. This is only available until the 25th February. Get onto it now if you are interested!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Managing URLs

I’ve been using Tiny Urls for quite awhile to simplify & share strange web addresses that i create. But today i started using in the first instance because it allowed me to customise the url with a meaningful name instead of a bunch of random numbers. Then when i logged into i found that i was able to keep track of the urls i had made – search for them, add notes, edit them and even get some simple stats feedback.
More than anything this will be really valuable for me to keep track of the urls i have created over time as my cyber-pathways get more and more congested and complex. Very handy dandy!


Tuesday, 1 February 2011


The first VLN Community meeting of the year today, and i was able to join the VC through EVO.


EVO is free to use, just register download the client app. put the IP number of the VC unit or bridge you want to connect to and you’re away! (The default is mute so don’t forget to unmute…)

This has been very convenient for me to access VC meetings without having to travel and find a VC room to accommodate me. The quality has been fine with the low bandwidth I have at the moment (.66 down, .47 up) but i don’t transmit video and use audio only. I have explored using Polycom PVX software or CMA server (hosted by AsNet) to join the VC bridge but i just can’t seem to get the network settings to work from home. They work OK from a SchoolZone school but defeats the whole purpose about being able to access the VC Bridge from anywhere. I am looking forward to the launch of Adobe V8 later this year which is said to have the capability of linking with H323 (this is the protocol used by NZEdVCNetwork). This will enable more of our schools to access some of learning opportunities that are currently only offered through the VC Network without the need for buying expensive VC equipment. (Though bandwidth will still be an issue for some of our schools – roll on RBI!!)

Here is a help sheet for using EVO to access VC.