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e-Learning as inquiry | An Enabling e-Learning event

Started by Karen Spencer 11 Jul 2012 9:37am () Replies (20)

Enabling e-Learning teaching logo Are you using technologies in your classroom? Trialling a blog? Testing out an iPad? How do we know what is going well, and what needs to change?

The teaching as inquiry process, described in the New Zealand Curriculum, offers a clear process for thinking about what to focus on, why, and whether it was successful, based on how our students are learning.

What does this look like in an e-learning context?


This thread aims to feature stories, examples and guest teachers - Claire Amos and Mark Herring - who have walked the path already. We're looking forward to hearing about how you have tried to inquire into the way you use technologies, and how it went.

Meanwhile, here's a wee video from Claire to whet your appetite:





  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 16 Jul 2012 8:43am ()

    Welcome back to term 3. I'm sure you are all raring to go, with big plans for your students over the next few weeks. This thread is now open, and I'd like to invite anyone who is trialling or exploring an inquiry this term, focused on e-learning, to stop by, introduce yourself and share your focus for this term:-)

  • Claire Amos (View all users posts) 18 Jul 2012 11:40am ()

    Hi there,

    My name is Claire Amos and I am the Director of e-Learning at Epsom Girls Grammar School. Over the last two years we have led been involved in two rounds of school-wide Teaching as Inquiry projects as a means of developing contextualised 'E-learning Action Plans'. Today I thought I would provide an brief overview of our first iteration.

    The intention of using a Teaching as Inquiry cycle to inform an 'E-Learning Action Plan' was to provide staff across the curriculum areas with a tool and a process to guide their integration of e-learning tools and strategies in a way that was directly related to student outcomes. It was hoped that this process would both support the teacher in their planning, provide a plan that would signal the areas that they needed ICT PD support in, and also provide a level of accountability as 'E-learning Action Plans' were published and shared. The main aim and purpose of this process was to keep the focus primarily on the student and their learning and not the ICT tool and/or strategy. The effectiveness of this initiative was measured through regular feedback gathered from teachers (using Google Forms) and through a teacher led ‘learning inquiry’ where teachers gathered qualitative data from students through surveys, discussion, observation and improved achievement outcomes.

    This is what it looked like:

    Using teaching as Inquiry to create an e-learning action plan - the EGGS Ijavascript:;CTPD journey

    What is happening in your school??

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 24 Jul 2012 12:50pm ()

    Thanks for kicking this discussion off, Claire, and for opening a window on your school's processes Laughing. The importance of assessing impact in the inquiry is clear and I like the way that teachers looked holistically across a range of information sources, including student voice.

    Do you - or another teacher in your school - have an example that would illustrate the action plan in action (as it were) ? 

  • Diane Henderson (View all users posts) 22 Jul 2012 8:36am ()

    Hi, my name is Diane Henderson and I am the ICT Facilitator for the Ka-oro-hoki CLuster in the Far North.  All 12 schools in the cluster have committed to focussing on developing Inquiry and thinking processes.  As part of this, it has been very exciting to work with schools to set up different types of e-learning tools within schools.  This term has begun with one school developing their wikispaces e-portfolios for students, ensuring they are safe and students respect each others privacy (ongoing cyber safety sessions a must here!).  Another school is  setting up class blogs to be linked to their school website, this is a learning curve for the teachers, and Principal, who are all keen to be a part of this e-learning tool. Another school has purchased iPads for teachers, to be used with students.  After signing an iPad agreement, teachers have weekly App sessions, where they share and learn new ideas.  This has proved to be a fun way to get everyone on board.  Each team was given a $20 card to purchase Apps of their choice for use in their classrooms - a great way to get everyone on board to use the same ideas.

    Our exciting programme that is still in the planning stage is the digital classroom that is being set up in the local town, by 2 schools - each providing 1 teacher with 25 students each who will all have their own device, working out of a space in the centre of town for Term 4 of this year.  It is being planned for these students to work alongside busineses to promote their town, raise the profile of their own school and create an awareness of how students learn to the wider community.

    As we are in the final year of the ICT PD cluster, schools are realising how important it is to have e-learning tools embedded into their systems for planning and delivering relevant and exciting programmes to students who do not have access to these facilities at home.


  • Mark Herring (View all users posts) 23 Jul 2012 7:08am ()

    Hi. I'm Mark Herring and I'm one of the Deputy Principals at a semi rural school on the outskirts of Invercargill. I teach year 4 to 6 and I'm also the lead-lead ICT teacher of an ICT cluster here (a title of a title, I know).

    My first go at using teacher inquiry was in 2009 as part of an ESAS cluster in Palmerston North. You can see the presentation online and it was such a great way to explore lots of different strategies I could use to help my students.


    When I first joined this ICT cluster, after its first year, there was a desire to help the schools and staff differentiate the PD across the board. They had spent some time learning a variety of ICT skills and approaches but wanted something that would help them develop at their pace and in their context. This is what the teacher inquiry approach offers!

    We started each teacher and principal on their own T.I. journey last year - described here in our reflective summary.  Here are three reasons I think the T.I. strategy is so fantastic for developing elearning practise in schools.

    1.  It allows teachers to plan and structure their own PD! Every teacher takes the courses and workshops that will help them achieve their inquiry goal. We're all working towards personalised learning for our students and this is what T.I. has the potential to offer for teachers.

    2. It empowers teachers to be creative, innovative and life long learners. When we give teachers the responsibility to be self sufficient with their PD they transfer those independent learning attitudes well after the particular T.I. journey is over. This is great for their students, other staff, parents and especially the BOT to see.

    3. It allows teachers to follow a line of passion and interest. In my experience of T.I. the results are often that schools end up with expertise in a wide range of elearning skills and approaches. When we spread that expertise we are all the richer for it!

    So - what do you see as the benefits? I'm also wondering why there are occasions thet teachers and schools miss the opportunity to see gains with T.I., even when guided through the process. 

    What are your thoughts on that?

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 24 Jul 2012 1:14pm ()

    Thanks for sharing your stories, Diane - sounds like there is a whole raft of initiatives going on in your neck of the woods that reflect enthusiasm and a breadth of vision that extends beyond the school into the community Laughing. Where do you see the teaching as inquiry process in these plans? Are teachers pursuing individual goals, as Mark as touched on in his post - or are they whole school initiatives?


    Mark - you break down the benefits of the process really clearly, and your questions are pertinent too Laughing. I am particularly interested in the way you see the inquiry process as offering a way to personalise the process for teachers. How much support do you find teachers need with the actual inquiry process? Is it a way of thinking that comes naturally, do you think?  

    Great thread, everyone - thanks for getting the old ball rolling so thoughtfully this week!

  • Claire Amos (View all users posts) 26 Jul 2012 11:05am ()

    Hi Mark et al,

    I agree with Karen, I really like the way you outlined the benefits of Teaching as Inquiry so clearly - completely agree! I often find myself talking about how TAI is awesome as it provides the combo of personal ownership and the opportunity to contextualise professional learning. To me the real key to success is also sharing the process, publishing plans so as to provide a level of accountability as well.

    Here is my attempt to share my love for Teaching as Inquiry as an Ignite presentation....a bit manic to say the least Smile

  • Diane Mills (View all users posts) 26 Jul 2012 12:04pm ()

    I have been reading your posts with interest and totally agree that Teaching as Inquiry personalizes learning for teachers and enables them to understand their next professional development steps or next learning steps for students.  Mirroring what we are expecting our students to be able to do too - yes lifelong learning.  Your enthusiam for Teaching as Inquiry is clearly evident and good to see.  

    My questions focus on supporting people throughout an inquiry. In the initial stage of a teacher's inquiry what targetted questioning would you use/ask to ensure that their inquiry leads to real/deep/authentic learning?  What key questions would you ask at a first reflection point in the inquiry to ensure that they remain on track or probe more perceptively into their inquiry?    

  • liz Stevenson (View all users posts) 01 Aug 2012 9:08pm ()

    It's great to hear about your work Claire and Mark - fabulous stuff and thanks for sharing. Diane - your question made me think about how we can blend inquiries so that teachers and students inquire together - the e-field is such a good one for this don't you think? Drawing on some real life projects - I'm thinking that a useful way to get real/deep/authentic learning - as you say - is to first hone the big inquiry questions - to make sure they align with vision and purpose and then to springboard the inquiry action off a solid base of ‘what do we know/think now at the start?’ So the key questions would relate to the focus of the inquiry. (Which might be Can mobile learning improve the way we're learning in Chemistry? or How can using an iPad help dyslexic readers?)

    Then to stay on track - an inquiry project plan (flexible) + who needs to be involved, methods/resources, tools and actions, how/who to collect data, evaluate and reflect + key communication points.

    A secondary school employed this dual process in an inquiry to see how taking part in a global collaborative project could contribute to student competencies around innovation, creative problem solving, engagement and learning in a self-directed manner. Regular data collected included student voice, web transcripts, image bank, teacher observations, self and peer assessments/reflections. Their final evaluations pointed to deeper student engagement, higher quality learning and increased satisfaction in the learning experience for both students and teachers. I really like the idea of the teacher + student inquiry process. It will be great to hear of some more examples...

  • Mark Herring (View all users posts) 02 Aug 2012 11:31am ()

    One of the things that we talked a lot about when planning and working through our inquiries is to make our goal focussed on raising achievement and not the tool. We're finding it helps teachers to have 'Improving engagement in reading,' or 'raising student's achievement in their basic facts,' as the target - rather than, 'how can I use efolios to improve... etc' I've found that sometimes our pre concieved ideas about what might work in our classes are not as beneficial as we might think once the inquiry begins. It gives us the flexibility to start with an idea but switch or change strategies if needed (the beauty of a true inquiry, I think). This is one approach that we find useful

    We've also used templates with key questions to help guide the process, Diane. They have questions like, 'what strategies are working well?' and 'How do you know?' Here's a link to an example of reflection templates we offered to teachers to help guide them through.

  • Tracy Bowker (View all users posts) 02 Aug 2012 2:56pm ()

    Great thread...

    One brief example from a secondary school.....after situating themselves on the e-Learning Planning Framework (ELPF), the school identified priorities across the five dimensions. It was clear to see there were common trends/ideas coming through so a school-wide inquiry question was formed based on this data. ‘How can e-Learning be a stronger part of department planning to support and influence better use of assessment data, especially to target students who are underachieving? This inquiry was broken down and discussed at the individual and department level and developed according to context. Templates were designed to help support this process and student voice was collected. There was a lot more to the process than described but the use of the ELPF to help support and identify teacher inquiry was invaluable.

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