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Claire Amos's discussion posts

  • Claire Amos 07 May 2015 7:01pm () in MLEs: That’s just a classroom with a beanbag isn’t it?

    Funny, that title feels a little familiar wink, here's a post I wrote about that very topic a couple of years back. 

    Posted on 18th February 2013 at www.teachingandelearning.com

    Modern Learning Environments and Learning Technologies - 21st century education change-makers or old school smoke screens?

    Modern Learning Environments is a term that seems to be bandied around a lot lately. But interestingly it is rarely defined. The (NZ) Ministry of Education has a whole section on their website dedicated to them, lots of info and tools but no actual definition. More online research and still little in the way of a definition can be found. So what is a Modern Learning Environment or MLE? It would seem (from what I have gleaned from a number of school visits and indeed our own school plans), that this is a generic term that describes a space which may include many things: open and/or flexible learning spaces, breakout spaces, small spaces often referred to as "caves", multi-purpose spaces, technology rich spaces and spaces that house "modern learning furniture" such as bean bags, camp fire seats and a variety of high, mid-height and low groovy shaped tables...on wheels. Interestingly MLEs don't actually seem that modern at all. In fact there is something rather retro and even commune-like about them and if I am honest they sort of remind me of a daycare...on steroids.

    So what exactly makes these learning environments "modern"? I guess what makes them modern is the fact that they are different from the old ones (i.e. single cell rooms) and for many, rather unsettling. Historically speaking, different and unsettling seems to mean "modern" doesn't it? I guess "unsettling learning environment" was a bit of a hard sell, so "modern" it is then.

    But hang on a minute, who said that modern equals good? The reality is, good (and bad) teaching can take place anywhere. I am guessing (and I am hoping) that the MLE will not simply make the teaching and learning better because it is a MLE, but that it will encourage a more open and flexible approach to teaching and learning because as a space it is exactly that, open and flexible. I hope it will encourage all those things we refer to as "effective pedagogy" in the NZC. I also hope it might discourage too much teacher led instruction and encourage a more facilitation style of teaching and learning.

    Learning Technologies are a little easier to define. The term simply means any technology that may support learning. For most, this would include computers (desktops, laptops and tablets), interactive whiteboards, smart screens and smart phones. Learning Technologies are also "not so modern". I guess what might be deemed as modern is the shift in who owns and uses the technology, as 'Bring Your Own Device' initiatives see the ownership and power shifting to the student.

    Interestingly, whilst I value and see huge potential in both MLEs and (student owned) Learning Technologies I am also concerned about them. I am concerned that the development of MLEs and the introduction of Learning Technologies can become a bit of a smoke screen and can actually create an illusion of modernity when little has actually changed. I worry that the introduction of these physically, palpable and measurable objects will be seen as making a change for the better, when the one thing that that really needs to be "introduced" is still lacking - the teacher's belief that the student is capable of leading their own learning. How do we ensure that MLEs and Learning Technologies don't actually create the educational equivalent of "mutton dressed as lamb" with old beliefs and teaching approaches being dressed up in hip and groovy clothing.

    MLEs are pointless if the teacher still leads from the front of classrooms (albeit classrooms with invisible walls). Learning Technologies are pointless when the students have the use of their technology controlled and limited to little more than word processing and the odd google search. The challenge will actually be to explore how the MLEs and Learning Technologies can be used to genuinely change how and what we have been doing.

    I guess my concern my concern is this - changing the environment and introducing tools is easy, genuinely changing our thinking and letting our "caged" students go "free-range" - now that's going to be a challenge.


  • Claire Amos 27 Apr 2015 8:49am () in Resourcing how and why of e-Learning | NAPP Kōrero 6 2015

    Hi Tess,

    Here is some advice I wrote for Interface Magazine to kick us off:


    Here is a piece I originally wrote for Interface magazine which serves as a preface for my next post which looks at some of our thinking around ICTs and e-learning at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

    Wondering where to start with strategic planning for ICTs? Here are a few thoughts to get you started.
    Start with the end in mind
    Before you even worry about anything technical, you need to think about THE most important factor - the student. Begin by clarifying your school's vision around what you actually want for your students and their learning. What does their learning like now? What would you like it to look like in 2-3 years time? How will you ensure you don’t limit that vision to your own level of confidence, comfort and expertise around ICTs? This vision, more than anything else, will guide your strategic planning.
    So how might you do this? It might be useful to ask a few questions to clarify thinking, such as:
    • What does your student want and/or need? How do you know this?
    • To what degree do you want your students to be able lead their own learning?
    • How do you want your students to share and/or publish their learning?
    • Do you want to enable your students to collaborate and work together?
    Basically, you need to start with the student. What would you (or even better, what would they) like their learning to look like?
    Make a plan
    Once you have a clear vision for your student’s learning, this can be translated into a plan for ICT development or redevelopment. Again, you will need to few questions, such as:
    • Do you want students to bring their own device? Why? Why not?
    • Do you want your students to have open “hotspot” style access to the Internet or something more closed and filtered? Why? Why not?
    • Do you want to control the tools and strategies that your students use by imposing a single LMS or mandated platforms? Why? Why not?
    Depending on the answers, the amount of time and resources spent on each of the strategic planning areas will then vary. For example, if you want to introduce a genuinely student-led learning experience and therefore would like a BYOD policy with a lot freedom and choice for your students, this will involve investment in; a robust and reliable wireless infrastructure, in-depth and ongoing professional development for shifting teacher pedagogy from a more teacher-centred to a more student-centred approach and a lot of time and resources invested in developing the digital citizenship skills of your staff and students.
    Lay the foundations
    A robust and reliable ICT infrastructure can be the make or break of any teaching and learning experience that involves technology. To ensure your infrastructure is meeting the needs of the student you need to be guided by how the student will use it. Depending on the needs of the student, this will most likely include: a fast and reliable internet connection, a robust internal school network, a wireless network and some provision of ongoing technical support. As schools move to more cloud-based services for their Student and/or Learning Management Systems the need for physical infrastructures beyond the wireless one is evolving quickly. Schools can seek support in this area from the Network for Learning from whom schools and kura will be able to access affordable, safe and rapid broadband. N4L will also bring internet based services for engaging learners. Additionally N4L will provide services to help streamline school administration.
    Help your teachers evolve
    Often teachers believe that to make the most of ICTs in the classroom, they themselves need to be experts. Whilst a level of skill and confidence can be useful, the most important thing a teacher needs to learn is how to be open to change and how to be confident enough to let their students take charge of leading their own learning. This may be as simple as stepping aside and letting your students find and trial ICT tools and strategies of their choice. An effective way for teachers to begin this evolution is through engaging in the Teaching as Inquiry process, where by the teacher identifies the learning needs of their students and undertakes a teaching inquiry around which ICT tools or strategies may support this learning to take place, tools and strategies are trialled, then the effectiveness of the tools and strategies in relation to the meeting the needs of the learner.
    Probably the single most powerful resource to help you with this is the Ministry of Education developed e-Learning Planning Framework (eLPF) which is set of resources that schools and teachers with:
    • A self-review tool for schools to gather evidence about practice
    • A 'roadmap' for building e-learning capability
    • A tool to evaluate the effectiveness of e-learning programmes
    • Resources and services to support schools as they build capability
    The Virtual Learning Network (VLN) is another great source of information and support. The VLN is a network of school clusters and educational institutions collaborating to provide online access to a broad range of curriculum learning opportunities for students.
    (Source: /)
    Develop digital citizens
    However it is not just your teachers who will need to evolve, students can often appear confident, this does not necessarily mean that their use of ICTs is either particularly safe or successful. Developing digital citizenship skills is something that needs to taught AND needs to be modelled by teachers. You will need to consider how this will be developed across the school. Will it be taught explicitly? Will it be somehow integrated into curriculum areas? In terms of finding out more about Digital Citizenship, NetSafe (www.netsafe.org.nz/) provide excellent support and guidance for teachers, students and parents. You may also like to check out the Digital Citizenship Project on wikieducator (http://wikieducator.org/Digital_Citizenship), which is a NZ based crowd-sourced set of teaching resources for Digital Citizenship from Years 1-13.
    In summary, you need to define what you see strategic planning for ICTs including, develop a clear vision for learning, consider how that might impact on your planning, and then seek out the information and advice. Just as we need to tailor our teaching to meet the needs of our learners, so to will you need to tailor your strategic planning for ICTs to the needs of your school, and more importantly – to the needs of your students.
  • Claire Amos 02 Jul 2013 9:25am () in Does your school have a Digital Citizenship profile?

    As well as the wikieducator resources, I pit together this Google Site for supporting teachers understanding of Digital Citizenship - it may be useful alongside student facing resources Laughing




  • Claire Amos 16 Oct 2012 10:56am () in Application form for equity devices

    Hi there,

    We are looking at offering a small number of school owned netbooks available on daily loan for those who have financial difficulties which families may apply for. Does anyone have an application form for equity devices that we might be able to have a look at….just looking to avoid reinventing the wheel.



  • Claire Amos 30 Aug 2012 12:08pm () in Network for Learning and Ultra-fast Broadband | 'Learning without limits' seminar series

    I am with you Sean. I will be honest - UFB, SNUP, LMSs and SMSs all exist already. Lots of resources via TKI exist already. How is N4L going to to change how I facilitate teaching and learning...if at all. I am in a school with UFB, wich has been SNUPed, we have an established SMS and LMS and I ustilise a wide range of ministry funded online resorces and services ( which I absolutely appreciate) already. What more will the N4L offer and why would I pay for it? I am off to the seminar in Epsom on Monday and hope theses queries will be answered....



  • Claire Amos 28 Aug 2012 8:29am () in Strategic Plan Examples


    Hi there,
    We deal with this via the tick box at the bottom of our Digital Citizenship Contract all students sign. You are welcome to use anything that looks useful.
  • Claire Amos 23 Aug 2012 5:17pm () in Equity devices in BYOD schools

    Thanks Diane and Mark - good info!

  • Claire Amos 23 Aug 2012 2:38pm () in Equity devices in BYOD schools

    Indeed. I have picked his handy brain already - they provide plenty of desktops. I have to agree in that I have some classes I teach in that have a number seek desktops available as supplementary devices - it works really well. But in traditional learning spaces (I.e. lots of individual classrooms)would be a lot of desktops. But then again maybe they might last longer?

  • Claire Amos 23 Aug 2012 2:23pm () in Equity devices in BYOD schools

    Hi all,

    Just seeking some feedback in regards with how BYOD schools are dealingworth the issue of equity devices? Do you provide loan devices? Lease deals? Classroom computers? Or nothing?


    Any info appreciated.




  • Claire Amos 10 Aug 2012 3:33pm () in Digital Citizenship Resources being developed - share your resources here!

    A Digital Citizenship Resource (Site) for Teachers

    This is intended to be a kind of “advice and guidance” document that had been put together for our staff at EGGS. Let me know what you think of the structure, content etc. Any suggestions welcome. It will continue to evolve as our needs change. 

    Here is a link to the nearly completed site:


    Mark Osbourne (from ASHS) is also helping to create a WikiEducator version as well, all content is CC so feel free to use, remix anything that looks useful for your schools

    The Digital Citizenship Guidelines on WikiEducator

    I have also created an external copy of the Google Site, just let me know if you would like me to make you "an owner" if you would like to make a copy of the site, so you can redevelop it that way...

    You can contact me at am@eggs.school.nz



Claire Amos

Deputy Principal (Learning Technologies) Hobsonville Point Secondary School