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  • Educators in New Zealand, and around the world, are working in exciting times.  We're on the brink of a revolution and no one is going to get hurt.  In fact, the digital revolution is possibly the only way education can break down barriers of inequity, provide young people the opportunity to really become 21st century learners, and allow them to learn in ways that meet their needs and learning styles.

    And to achieve this, teachers are the key, not technology.  Technology will be a vital tool, but only teachers can bring about this change.  So it will be up to the leaders to lead their teachers in embracing a vision and implementing a strategy to give students a chance to learn anything, anytime, any way, anyhow, anywhere.  This truly is their generation.

    In his book Stratosphere (2013), Michael Fullan proposes a tripartite model for future learning:  technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge.  He shows how these three forces converge and become inextricably linked, despite being quite independent of one another.  People drive technology, and teachers use pedagogy.  Leaders allow change to happen.  These three elements need to be captured in a school's vision and strategic plan if they are at all to be realised.

    When we consider the history of education, it seems highly ironic that classrooms of fifty plus students once sat in rows awaiting instruction.  Clayton M. Christensen in Disrupting Class (2008) describes teaching in America before the industrialised model became the norm.  Classes with students of all ages were catered to by two, sometimes three teachers who would move from student to student providing one on one tuition.  It was the only way to manage such a class: personalised learning!  Of course, with the advent of industrialism, an industrial model was applied to education to replicate a workforce to suit the economy, and traditional non-discursive classrooms grew and thrived and still dominate today.  And this is the scary point.  We do not live in an industrialised economy anymore.  Our economy demands vastly different skills from our learners today, and I think it's fair to say these skills are encapsulated in our document, The New Zealand Curriculum (2007).  But visit any school and the chances are you will see traditional, industrial-economy teaching practices at the fore.

    Our economy is changed forever, and we're probably living in a time of an ever changing economy; ubiquitous technology has raced ahead with its potential to change lives; and as for students, well, they're probably changing as fast as the technology.  Eric Sheninger in Digital Leadership (2014) explains how young people are 'wired differently' as a result of experiential learning that begins at a very early age, usually outside of the classroom, and often unsupervised by an adult.  How often do we marvel at the toddler who can use an app on an iPad?  Our understanding of educational psychology, of how young people learn, and of pedagogy has evolved with sophistication in a silent revolution over time, but the way we teach the bulk in schools has not adapted.

    When we consider how the economy, technology and young people are light years transformed, it appears so obvious that schools must change - leaders must change, teachers must change, pedagogy must change, assessment regimes must change...and we can go on and on.  So let's equip ourselves and our students to survive and thrive in an ever-changing world.  We (teachers and students) need to learn how to learn; how to solve real-life problems; work in collaborations; deal with live feed-back and feed-forward loops; access our learning anytime and anywhere; and, present our learning to real-time audiences.  As learning leaders we need to role model this template for life-long learning.

    But quite simply, if we were to change our pedagogy to take advantage of available technology, we're on the first step to much bigger things.  A simple change like that might only require simple change knowledge - a change in school policy to allow BYOD and student access to the Wi-Fi, or a teacher up-skilling using collaborative tools like on-line shared documents.

    The future is here, and this change will happen whether we like it or not; the question is: how will it happen?  We can control the how.  It is an iterative process and the learning revolution rolls on.


    Christensen, C., Horn, M. B., & Johnson, C. W. (2008). Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. NY: McGraw-Hill.

    Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge. Toronto, Canada: Pearson.

    Scheninger, E. (2014). Digital Leadership:  Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

  • Link to webinar recording

    Presenters: Chris Bradbeer & Mark Osborne

    Part 1: Mark Osborne

    Mark started off by highlighting that the physical environment is only a part of what goes into an MLE, referencing the CORE Education MLE planning framework. He also reminded us that: 

    Hope is not a strategy!

    The physical environment has to be servant to the learning and teaching vision. Without the vision you cannot plan the physical environment. Mark explained that the physical environment is not transformative or disruptive but should be an enabler or activator of learning.

    This was illustrated with photos from Ngatea School where they had a vision for collaboration/co-teaching with lots of inquiry learning. Their single-celled classrooms didn’t work for their vision so they cut holes in the wall to turn three classrooms into an open space.

    Mark emphasised that the vision for learning is independent of the physical space available. Don't change your vision for learning due to the physical space. Larger spaces with more teachers may give more opportunities for different learning to occur, however smaller, single-celled classrooms still need to cater to the vision for learning.

    In response to a question about noise level in MLEs where there might be multiple teachers and large number of students in one space, Mark reminded us that this is an issue in any space. It’s important to have an orderly learning environment that minimises distractions to learning and teachers are ultimately responsible for the noise level. He has found that well designed MLEs generally have better acoustic qualities to minimise this issue and there needs to be quiet learning spaces separated appropriately from noiser spaces.

    We also need to consider modern online learning spaces as well as physical spaces. The two need to be completely intermeshed so students can move seamlessly between them.

    Part 2: Chris Bradbeer

    Chris talked in part about his experience at Stonefields School.

    He highlighted that not rushing in is a key in the process to move to an MLE, however some rushing in needs to happen due to timelines. There is a need to have some “rapid slow thinking”.

    There is rapid change in thinking around MLEs. What was cutting edge design 5 years ago is already starting to look old school. The consultation process for Stonefields School took 4-5 months. Chris’ advice:

    Get on with the process!


    Quite often when we think of MLEs we focus on the physical architecture, however Chris pointed out that there is much more to the architecture of an MLE than physical space. We also need to consider:

    • people architecture (collaboration)

    • pedagogical architecture

    • technological architecture.

    These, along with the physical architecture (space) need to be built upon the vision for learning.

    Atkin (1999) said that we need to be clear about the ‘why’. What are the core values and beliefs? What are the principles around it? THEN look at the what (the practices).  WHY - HOW - WHAT

    Chris found that re-thinking the people architecture has given the most exciting learning.

    Most teacher collaboration doesn’t happen in the classroom - might happen in a syndicate or team meeting. In the MLE, teachers work alongside each other more rather than on their own.

    To give teachers the opportunity to work alongside each other, he stated that they had to remove after school meetings so that teachers had time to work collaboratively and effectively.

    Bad collaboration is worse than no collaboration (Hansen, 2009).

    To sum up, Chris emphasised it’s not only about the physical space but the people, pedagogy and technology also make up the MLE.

  • You may already be familar with this video from Sir Ken Robinson, where he talks about changing educational paradigms - so that, our children can take their place in the global economic environment. He touches on the importance of acknowledging cultural identity (in the climate of globolisation) and explores the perceptions/misconceptions about behavioral disorders as well as the human capacity for learning.

    Makes me think,

    Is our educational model doing enough for our priority learners and in a timely fashion or is this too slow?

    Bo Adams talks about the slow rate of change in education, due largely to nature of isolation that teachers work in. There’s no doubt that the on-going evolution of technology has an influence on our education, but is this enough - where we can clearly see improved results for Māori, Pasifika and students with special educational needs?

    The positive reponse is yes! In some cases, we are lucky enough to have teachers sharing their stories right here in the VLN, for example,  Sharing success stories for our Pasifika learners and "Te Roopu Rangitahi" - Growing our Maori Student E-Learning Leaders. Both stories show the impact that technoogies can have on our Māori and Pasifka learners and I know there is more.


    However, this week, my colleagues and I have been challenged to think about the rate of change in NZ education as being too slow for our priority learners - Māori, Pasifika and students with special educational learning needs. 

    So, do you agree with this statement or is this debate is relatively more complex? What do you think? Leave your thoughts here in this POLL and we'll see where the majority of thinking lies. 


    Kia rongo kōrero anō au I a koe,


  • One idea could look like this >>>


    As more and more schools get access to Ultra-fast Broadband and consider trends like BYOD, they might also be asking, What would a flexible, open, modern learning environment look/sound/feel like?


    • Is it enough to be connected to Ultra-fast Broadband, and have nothing else change in the classroom?
    • What’s the difference between 20th Century and 21st Century classrooms?
    • Would it matter if the school's design was 50 years (or older) or a new build?
    • What about mobile and fixed technologies? Where do they fit into a digital classroom?
    • What does physical and virtual learning look like when it's blended learning?

     possibly wondering...

    • What does a collaborative learning space look like?
    • What do we need to consider in terms of an effective e-learning pedagogy?
    • What about the principles of Universal design for learning, equity, diversity, inclusiveness and personalisation?
    • Does this mean we re-think teacher roles - to include a shift away from didactic teaching towards more interactive facilitation?

    More questions than answers? 

    Then come and join John Creighton (HOD Digital Technologies, Burnside High School) and Tara Taylor-Jorgensen (Lead teacher, Amesbury School) and Chris Bradbeer (Stonefields School) in a FREE online discussion focused on Digital learning spaces – what does this look like? 17 Oct 2012, 3.45pm - 4.45pm. Each guest will share how their own school has considered some of the questions above - in order to create flexible/digital learning spaces - that reflect a 21st Century vision for learning. Want to know more? REGISTER NOW!



    What else is influencing our thinking about modern, flexible, open learning environments?


    • Linking Pedagogy and space: by Dr Kenn Fisher. Includes diagrams to explain the relationship between pedagogical activity/instruction with building space and design.
    • Ten Trends 2012: Personalisation. Part of CORE Education’s Ten trends, Douglas Harre talks about the customisation/personalisation of individualised learning.
    • Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching: A New Zealand perspective. Rachel Bolstad and Jane Gilbert, with Sue McDowall, Ally Bull, Sally Boyd and Rosemary Hipkins. NZCER. This paper looks at Emerging principles for a 21st century education.

  • Albany High School - wikieducatorA couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the PoriruaNet Cluster conference, to facilitate a couple of workshops on Enabling e-Learning and blended professional learning for schools.

    It was great to see four schools coming together to explore the way they were using technology for learning - and the day was kicked off by Mark Osborne (Albany Senior High School - see picture right) who explored several aspects of how his school has integrated technology into their curriculum and learning philosophy.


    Managing the challenge of inequity in BYOD

    At Albany, for students who have any device, they can bring it in and the school will make sure the network is available. But their vision for students means that they should be able to learn in the way they wish - which may not involve technology. We should remind ourselves that learning is a social activity, so screen time needs balancing with peer work, and their suggested optimum ratio is 1:3 around a single device.


    All information in the cloud

    The goal at Albany is for any browser to be able to access the web, using any device, anytime, anywhere. This requires huge commitment to the network and infrastructure. 400-500 devices are on the network during the day. 


    Open source - Open access

    For every personal device that comes in, a school computer is freed up for a student who needs it. Software access can also result in inequity, so they chose to use open, free, powerful software that anyone could access. E.g GIMP instead of Photoshop; Open Office, instead of Microsoft Office. To download new apps, the library offers QR code-tagged apps to take students to relevant download pages.  In terms of storage and security, the school provides personal lock-ups, with power points, managed by the students.



    Recording and reflecting on their own 'Impact' projects (e.g. Students monitoring waterways, starting bands, designing rockets, creating art) can be challenging for teachers who also have to support rigorous assessment. How to assess fluid, self-chosen learning? e-Portfolios allow for flexible conversations around learning, amongst students, parent and teachers.


    Wikieducator, Google docs, and social networks

    Collaborative, peer-tutoring can occur in the cloud. Mark described the power of Google docs, citing an example of over 40 teachers using them at the ULearn11 conference to collate notes during a keynote. These tools allows for differentiated approaches, peer review, structured and scaffolded approaches, and tracking for individual involvement. Many classes use Facebook pages, often administered by both teacher and students, focused around different topics and questions



    Mark quoted Bishop, and the importance of tuakana-teina. All good teachers keep learning. He advocated for active reciprocal learning (touching on the Learning Pyramid).


    At the start, Mark reminded us of Papert's quote - "Of course technology doesn't work. Technology doesn't do anything; people do." - and asked us to consider the challenges in our classroom that we are hoping to solve. It was a good reminder to set aside the shiny tools and focus on a clear vision and learning goals for our students. 

    The keynote was a really useful set of touchpoints for BYOD, that put the learning and the curriculum in the foreground and spoke strongly to the importance of clear vision and strategy.

    Enabling e-Learning: Leadership logo

    The e-Learning Planning Framework: Leadership dimension might be a good starting point for other schools looking to review the way they interate technology with their curriculum.

    Thanks to Mark for sharing Albany Senior High's experiences, and to PoriruaNet for hosting us:-)

  • Digital citizenship - using inquiry to build digital citizenship webinar was a successful event, where principals and their staff from Kuranui and Newmarket Schools shared their journey of developing Digital citizenship. In addition to this, Sean Lyons from NetSafe also shared resources to support schools when implementing and teaching about Digital citizenship.

    Child on computer

    Kuranui School:

    Kuranui started by sharing their development of Digital citizenship – with shared understandings and stages of development. They presented the models and language used, to help guide their kids towards Digital citizenship. Simple mantra like, “Kura kids are digi-kids and digi-kids are smart kids”, where the word SMART has been broken down into five simple rules for cybersafety. These are then presented around the school - as a reminder of their digital footprint. A lot of this work was based on Hector’s World resource as well as support from the local constable.


    Whole-school, deliberate strategic development, has resulted in unified, consistent, clear messages - which has resulted in students becoming more aware of the footprint they leave in the Internet. In additon to this, staff are more proactive about mentoring and monitoring the use of the Internet with their students. Many other positives have also been recognised including, the development of Key Competencies and Home/School partnerships. Parents now feel more comfortable about how their students are accessing the web.


    For more, view the reflective summary on Developing a Shared Understanding of Digital Citizenship at Kuranui School


    Newmarket School:

    Newmarket shared their story, which started from what their kids were already doing online - with some startling results in Bebo. The leadership team then realised that teacher safety and capability was something they needed to address as well.


    Throughout this development, there was a reference and reliance on school values, thinking was, that these could be transferrable and developed further online. A programme of development emerged using SuperClubs PlusData was analysed from the first year on the programme and subsequent developments have included the use SOLO Taxonomy to help build appropriate use of sites and rich tools - outside of SuperClubsPlus (Youtube, MyPortfolio, Google apps, Liveedu, mobile devices). This school is constantly planning ways to find a safe way forward digitally, for all of their students.


    Further elaboration on this process can be viewed @ http://ictpd-digital-citizenship-and-cybersafety.wikispaces.com/Schools+sharing and http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/35853



    Sean Lyons talked about the development of Netsafe resources from cybersafety to digital citizenship concepts. He shared the Netsafe kit, My LGP graph as well as current alignment to the phases within the e-Learning Planning Framework. Keep an eye out for future developments within the Netsafe group in the VLN.


    For Twitter commentary during the webinar check out #eTeach and #webinar. For the full recording of this session go to, http://bit.ly/MgempJ


    Images taken from Freedigitalphotos and FlickrCC

  • I’m off to meet with my critical buddy in two days time, so I thought I’d better get more acquainted with the term itself, as well as the process involved in having a mentor/coach support my professional ‘inquiry into teaching’.


    From reading, Critical Friends by Deborah Bambino, I understand the importance of collaborative conversations, which can challenge and support each us “…towards a shared vision of improved practice.” MARGARET LAMONT ( Instep chapter 5 An environment of collegial reflective dialogue for inservice teacher educators, P1). I also see the need for me to have a sense of responsibility or “enthusiastic commitment” towards engaging in this process.


    So, how am I feeling? I'm not apprehensive, because I respect and trust my critical buddy. I know our conversations will take us to a safe place for mutual benefit. In fact, I’m excited by that. Choosing a good mentor, is a step in the right direction. 


    I have chosen a real area of need for me to address, so I’m not feeling overly anxious about having my inadequacies exposed either. I’m more worried about not letting my critical buddy down! It's all about relationships. Hopefully I can make a conscious effort to develop some effective communication skills, so I can return the favour throughout this process.



    How friends can be critical as schools make essential changes

  • The e-Learning Planning Framework (eLPF) has been designed as a self-review tool for schools to map their current position in terms of Leadership, Teaching and learning, Infrastructure, Professional learning and Beyond the classroom – all with an e-learning lens. The framework has undergone recent changes, so that the phases within each of the dimensions, have some clear descriptors to consider and act upon.

    How can using the eLPF be useful for teachers and leaders?

    Two days ago I was talking with a local cluster facilitator about setting goals for teachers in their appraisal - with an e-learning lens. We discussed what kinds of e-learning goals teachers might be setting for themselves and then we asked, how would they know if these goals are going to impact on their learners’ needs?

    The strands within the Teaching and learning dimension of the eLPF enables teachers to ask themselves questions about  e-learning: a) across the whole curriculum, b) digital citizenship, c) within learning areas, d) as part of effective pedagogy and e) authentic assessment. We thought...what better way to have teachers map where their current skills, knowledge and understanding lie - as well as plan for how they might use a range of technologies to better meet diverse learner’s needs?


    How have others used the eLPF so far?

    Gina Cathro shares how she has used the e-Learning Planning Framework when working with teachers.

    As a facilitator, I have used the framework as a tool in refining an inquiry focus. Firstly we looked at the five dimensions and decided that the teaching and learning levels were most useful for our purpose. We discussed the difference between emerging level thinking where 'technologies supplement teacher-directed activities,  and  empowering level where 'student-centred, authentic, higher-order, collaborative teaching and learning is enhanced by ubiquitous technologies'.

    After this initial broader discussion, it was a natural step into looking at the teaching and learning dimension in more detail. This helped shape a more meaningful and in-depth inquiry where the focus is not on the tool but in 'assimilating technology into the pedagogy'.


    Anne Sturgess is also a faciliator, who recently worked with schools to use the eLPF during a pilot programme.

    As a facilitator with the Blended e-Learning team, I have worked with several schools to investigate best use of the eLPF. These schools have been unanimous in their praise of the tool and have also provided excellent advice about how to introduce and use it. For instance, when one school involved a parent from the BOT the whole discussion took on a different slant – the parent asked pertinent questions about the language used in the eLPF and, when it came time to prioritise areas for teacher inquiry, she suggested inviting parents to join in the PLD WITH the teachers; her reasoning being that, this way, teachers and parents were learning together and parents could reinforce key messages (e.g. about digital citizenship) at home and promote e-learning to other parents.


    There are two pieces of advice I would give to any school about to carry out an analysis using the eLPF:

    1) apply the principle of ‘one bite at a time’ – view the eLPF as a catalyst for discussion, not just as an analysis and review tool. It may/should take several sessions but will also generate meaningful discussion/inquiry/learning.

    2) Invite an e-learning facilitator to work with you for at least the first session and ask lots of questions. This will allow you to gauge whether or not you’re sufficiently familiar with the language and concepts to accurately identify your strengths and gaps.


    How can you use the eLPF?

    e-Learning leaders in schools can access the support material to learn how to use the framework with their teaching staff.  There are discussions starters (guiding questions), practical steps, examples and additional resources to help you do this within your own school. http://www.elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/e-Learning-Planning-Framework2

    Both the e-learning Planning Framework and the Registered Teacher Criteria and e-Learning wiki are invaluable tools to help teachers set e-learning appraisal goals for 2012.

    Anyone interested in adding their stories, can leave a comment below or add to the discussion thread @ Have you used the e-Learning Planning Framework?

  • It has been really interesting reading the tips that have come through during the November challenge. Something that seems to be coming through strongly from those that have contributed so far is that teachers applying for jobs would be in a stronger position if they could show evidence in a digital form of their own critical reflection on their teaching practice.

    I have been doing some thinking around this recently in relation to the Registered Teacher Critieria. As Digi Advisors, we have put together a wiki showing ideas on how to meet each of the criterion through e-learning practices. However, something that I think is really interesting is how digital tools can be used to collect and collate that evidence. We have put some of these ideas together on a page on the wiki:


    Here is a quick summary of some of the ideas that there are examples of on the wiki page:

    1. Teachers use a reflective blog and put the number of the criterion as a tag (called a label in Blogger) on posts that they believe provides evidence towards that criterion. You will then be able to filter posts via that tag when organising this evidence later.
    2. Teachers use an online version of the self-reflection tool that is available on the Teachers Council website and use this to record their progress against the criteria. This can then easily be shared with the appropriate people within the school who are supporting you. The Digi Advisors have created an version of this as a Google spreadsheet which anyone with a Google account can copy (link on the wiki page).
    3. Teachers use other tools such as a wiki to document their work towards the criteria and again can choose to just share it with key people in the school or make it public.
    4. Teachers can use a portfolio tool such as 'My Portfolio' to create themselves a professional portfolio that includes a section on their progress against the criteria.

    These are just a few ideas to start the ball rolling. Have you got any more thoughts on how teachers can use digital tools to talk to their progress against the criteria or to show prospective employees evidence of reflective practice?

  • Recently a colleague and I noticed a post on a mailing list that was quite adamant that BoT's should no longer employ people who cannot "do ICT" in the classroom. Our conversation then turned to two questions. What ICT skills should schools look for in new staff? And, should there be a minimum ICT skill level beneath which an applicant would not be employed?

    I think that creating a checklist of ICT skills is becoming more difficult due to both the increasing rate of change and the rising number of ways that people can interact with technology. A more useful way to approach it would seem to be asking questions that would help to determine if their ICT skills are aligned with personal skills or dispositions. For instance ask them to demonstrate that they use ICT to:

    • create a personal, professional learning network
    • link student data with next steps when planning lessons
    • create powerful learning experiences
    • personalise learning experiences for their students
    • nurture and strengthen links between schools, home and the community

    Interestingly enough despite believing strongly that effective use of ICT is a must in our schools, I am not convinced that a BoT should reject an applicant out of hand if those skills are lacking. If I had to choose between someone who is a great teacher but has limited exposure/low skill level with ICT and someone who is a lousy teacher with great ICT skills then I would take the great teacher. This is because I believe it is easier to develop the ICT skills of a great teacher than to develop the teaching skills of a great computer user.