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All learning is elearning

  • Public
By John Locke

All learning is learning

Leadership and the e in learning


Digital learning is a fact of 21st century life. It’s success or otherwise becomes apparent in exactly the same ways as any learning.  Good teaching and learning responds to the authentic context of the student. In 2012 this is highly likely to include a digital dimension.


We know how to improve NZ student outcomes, the work of Graeme Aitken on Teaching as Inquiry, Russell Bishop’s Te Kotahitanga research on the positive impact of respectful relationships and the importance of student collegial collaboration emphasised by Graeme Nuttall’s research.


In summary: students learn best in an atmosphere of mutually respectful relationships with their colleagues and teachers and all participants in learning environments benefit from accurate feedback. The fuel for effective learning is accurate, valid information. 


Learning tools designed to acquire and process information have always gone hand in hand with effective learning. Textbooks, blackboards, videotape and exercise books were some 20th century examples; in the 21st century we have at our disposal increasing numbers of outstanding digital learning and communicating tools.


At the moment in NZ schools three pedagogic game-changers are beginning to have an impact.

  • UFB (Ultra Fast Broadband),
  • N4L (Network for Learning) and
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). 

These innovations present school leaders with a vitally important opportunity to demonstrate their foresight and leadership skills for the long-term benefit of their students.


The principal’s role as a school leader is to navigate this new landscape guided by established concepts of effective leadership and pedagogy.


The following diagram summarises effective leadership practice as described in the Leadership Best Evidence Synthesis by Viviane Robinson. It provides a useful map to assist principals prepare themselves for the leadership challenges of the next few years.



Principals in 2012 must reflect deeply on the impact of UFB/N4L and BYOD in their schools.

  • Are their teachers prepared for the learning opportunities presented if every student in their class is connected to a high-speed learning network by a smart device? (Integrating educational knowledge into practice).
  • What are the implications for school hardware and software budgets and replacement strategies? (Resourcing strategically).
  • What are the priorities for change? (Establishing Goals and expectations).
  • Does the staff have sufficient resilience to cope with the tensions of rapid significant change? (Building relational trust).


The role of principals is to be well informed about the intricacies of the learning process and enable their teachers to become better at what they do.  Effective school leader’s minimise ‘noise’ and create learning environments in which tools to assist learning are selected for their effectiveness and appropriateness (Solving complex problems). In 2012 many of these tools will be digital. Leaders act as a vanguard for teachers by constantly investigating and reflecting on the potential of new digital tools or procedures. They then signpost ways in which teachers will gain greatest benefit for students (Leading teacher learning and development).


Effective leaders cannot delegate this important work. They do not have to be the best teachers on their staff but they must recognise and encourage good practice when it appears (Ensuring quality teaching).

The learning landscape of schools is about to enter a new phase of rapid change in which effective learning is learning.


Principals are now leaders of teaching and learning. 


John Locke



A Principal's fundamental role is the leadership of teaching and learning. Sharing experiences, expectations and ideas about effective eleadership practice is a good idea!