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MLEs: Learning spaces and resourcing | NAPP Kōrero 6

Kia ora koutou, talofa lava and welcome to this kōrero on, Learning spaces and resourcing.

imageBest Evidence Synthesis on School leadership and student outcomes, talks about the need for leaders to strategically allocate ‘material, intellectual, and human resources’ that are aligned to pedagogical and philosophical purposes. (Page 41)

In terms of resourcing Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) having clear understandings about learning and effective pedagogy as well as the influence of physical spaces and digital technologies will fundamentally drive decision-making processes.

In an Edtalks video, Mark Osborne asks, how can we create learning spaces/environments that enable different learning processes to become rich, real and relevant for our learners?

In an early video from Enabling e-Learning, Developing learning spaces Hingaia Peninsula School senior leaders talk about how their school vision for learning has driven decisions for planning Modern Learning Environments. A little over a year on, their story is focus on Campbell Live.

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Click on the image to view the video on TV3 News

In a 2012 Ministerial Cross-Sector Forum on Raising Achievement, key questions around MLEs included:

  • What are the key dimensions of a modern learning environment?
  • What do modern learning environments imply for our learning institutions and the teaching profession?
  • What needs to be done differently?
  • What are the leadership roles in 21st century learning and who should lead the change?

The responses from the esteemed panel can be viewed here.

The key questions for us are:

  • As leaders, what preparations do we need to undertake - to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance MLEs?
  • What strategies should, or could, principals apply in their role in resource allocation for e-learning and modern learning environments?

This korero is supported by, WEBINAR: MLEs: Learning spaces and resourcing | NAPP Kōrero 6, Thursday 26 June, 3.45-4.45pm. Registrations for this event have now closed.



Some resources to kick start this mahi...


Replies

  • Todd Brodie (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 9:42am ()
    • As leaders, what preparations do we need to undertake - to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance MLEs?

    Research, research, research! Get out there and visit schools, read about MLE, find time to hear from guest speakers (Mark Osborne and the team at Core Ed etc). Some schools just rush straight in and cut out the walls, however this isnt going to change the teaching in an MLE space. Send staff out to share and experience, go with them on visits.

    Remember though to always look at your schools vision and values, and spend time with staff developing what MLE will be for you in your school. Each school is different, and therefore one model will not fit all. This will ensure that strategies put in place are always evolving to fit your schools needs.

  • Meredith Devonald (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 12:58pm ()

    I agree with you Todd.  Every school is unique and it is important to think about your school's vision and values and what environment will best meet the needs of your community.  There are many physical environments / designs available now and you must be very clear about what will best suit your unique school.  Funky walls and fun furntiture do not raise student achievement.  Think about how your enviornment can enhance your quality teaching practices.

  • Mandy Vanderwee (View all users posts) 02 May 2014 8:05am ()

    Totally agree with Todd. As well as looking at other schools and your visions, find teachers who are passionate to pilot a MLE. That way they can model across the school and the change can become more fluid. It needs to take time to fit and enhance the culture of the school, learners, community and teachers.

  • Anna Bullock (View all users posts) 30 Jun 2014 10:07pm ()

    I agree Todd and Mandy, alongside the research that must go into the preparation for MLE spaces (by exploring other schools in the community and beyond) - to both existing classrooms and new classrooms, the pursuit to acquire and promote teachers who are also passionate, capable and flexible to explore this way of teaching is so important. They can just be the change makers that show and support others to how MLE's can be effective in delivering engaging and learning programmes that move away from what previously may have occured in teaching practice. This type of teaching will require a shift in mindset for some. Really like how Mark Osborne explained MLE's, finding what works for the students learning based on the most recent research, and aligning the learning environment to this, and the schools vision for the future.

    Exploring new ways of teaching including team teaching and the different classroom environments that are now being used is important for schools to take reasonable time to explore. To check that this aligns not only with the community needs, but also the vision that the school and teachers hold. 

    What if a small, but influential number of teachers beliefs of what quality learning environments and learning programmes do not align with what the school/principal wishes to pursue with regard to MLE's?

  • Amanda Picken (View all users posts) 26 Jul 2014 2:58pm ()

    Whilst I agree with you Mandy, that finding passionate teachers can be a great starter, we also need to consider multiple entry points for embedding the philosopy underpinning MLEs. I have been involved with a school recently who did just that (not for MLE but for another initiative). The new programme was a great success, but the school did not consider the sustainability of the programme or extend these ideas across the school. The result was that the teachers were enticed to other schools because of the programmes success, and it fell over at the first school. 

  • Gaylyn Lockington (View all users posts) 24 Nov 2014 7:41pm ()

    I like the point raised by Mandy about..'finding teachers who are passionate to pilot MLE'

    In our country the school do not own the building therefore making major changes will require the school going to the CIIC, an organisationn who owns and maintains all government buildings in the country. This is a very lengthy process.

    Some schools just go ahead and make the changes but at their own expense without any reimburement or support.

    In my current school the teacher took the inootiative to re-design hios classroom at his expense (or the English department) where he went out looking for sponsors for new computers and now has 8 computers at the back of his room for student use, he has painted his classroom put up new curtains and have some very colourful and educational posters around the room. It's a totally new envirnment and the students love to go in there. There are books all around his room for students to use for pleasure or educational purposes, it's simply amazing at the transformation so yes i agree, finding the teachers who are passionate to pilot MLE is vital.

    His sound system in there is amazing. The sounds that comes out of his room although very noisy, is loud and clear and is now our staff PD room, even Advisors from our ministry would request to work in that room.

    When there is a will there is a way!

  • Chris Linders (View all users posts) 02 Jun 2014 11:54am ()

    I agree Todd. Schools need to do their homework and research. Often people see the end product and then try to replicate this in their school. This sounds like the dinner speaker at the hui when he mentioned "planting seeds here, rather than shifting the tree". A tremendous amount of ongoing professional development needs to be included in any direction we choose to steer the boat. These "seeds" with undoubtedly be sprouting all over our learning institutions and need to be supported and fed. Leaders need to know their staff and rigorous coaching around pedagogy needs to be ingrained as a positive part of school culture. 

    I'm not sure where I sit with MLE's at present. Shifting a few walls back to where they were in the eighties when open plan were the rage??? Why did they move back? Would spending that money on more teachers and hence, lowering class numbers be more beneficial for teachiong and learning? How do we work smarter not harder? 

    Teaching in MLE's needs an ability to think differently. This needs to be included in strategic decision making. New leaders have the vision and need to ensure that their staff are able to come on board. They may have been going in a totally different direction with a previous leader. This will take time, deliberate acts of leadership, time, strategic planning, time, positive trusting relationships and time.

  • Sarah Kirk (View all users posts) 09 Jun 2014 12:21pm ()

    Hi Chris,  I am now at the point in my career where I'm seeing 'new' initiatives come around for the second time, although in the 70's I was a student in an open-plan class not the teacher!  It seems to me that the biggest difference is the focus on pedagogy and the links to the NAGs and NEGs. How we are teaching rather than where seems to be a crucial difference this time around, and this is in no small part due to the information revolution.  Where the teacher 'stands' in the classroom has shifted during this time. How we get teachers t shift in their thinking to thmselves as a faclitator rather than a knowledge-giver is at the heart of the MLE issue.  Resourcing an SMS specialist to promote data use is all well-and-good but it's important that they have a vision of what the practical ramifications are to a teacher's practice. Resourcing e-specialist teachers are a great way to address this issue as well, but they need to be clear that their focus is learning not just ICT.  I feel chosing the 'right' person is going to be crucial to developing teacher understanding and working knowledge of MLEs.

  • Wendy Roach (View all users posts) 17 Jul 2014 8:21pm ()

    Chris Linders, you posted an interesting point about open planned classrooms. "Shifting a few walls back to where they were in the eighties when open plan were the rage??? Why did they move back?"  As we learn and develop a deeper  understanding about individual's  learning needs of our students- moving away from a "one mould fits all, "style of teaching, which was primary in the 80s - we can now see that these environments do not fit all students and some students may really struggle if their environment does not change. We as teachers need to adopt a different motto- no child is left behind. meaning we need to adapt our environments to support all of our students- not just the ones that are conforming to general standards.  If that means changing our classrooms around or having loop systems installed- I believe whatever it takes, whatever changes need to be implemented are vital if that helps the students to learn.

  • Monique Streater (View all users posts) 02 Jun 2014 3:07pm ()

    We are about to get our 5 year funding and although a limited amount (due to other health and safety upgrades needing to be done) we are being asked to prioritise the upgrade into MLE spaces.  We have gotten out there - visited schools, spoken to as many people as we can, made lists and even went to the most recent Interface Expo (which was wonderful), and am booked in for the upcoming webinar.  The fact of the matter is - it is not enough money to do it all so the refurbishment needs a priorties! and now I am looking at grants and funding to help.  Pedagogy - placed at the top and worked backwards from there.  Our community is creative and innovative so this dictates what the space needs to do.

      Question - Does anybody have any recent similar experiences and advice, it would be greatly appreciated :)

  • steve (View all users posts) 02 Jun 2014 10:07pm ()

    Hi Monique, Our school like yours has gone through a cycle of self review and is considering the MLE especially after we have recently re written our charter and startegic objectives. As educators and leaders we are constantly looking for the silver bullet that will transform our practice, improve learning outcomes and make us proud of our efforts. 

    The issue with MLE as I see it, is firstly the cost of change and infrastructure and secondly trying to predict  the future needs for our learners and communities. More money can be resolved through planning, sponsorship, fundraising, grants etc as you have pointed out already, but the key for 21st century learning lies in co constructing, colaborating, sharing ideas, being innovative and working beyond the walls of a traditional classroom. My advice would therefore be if you are in rush to get there and have not got the funds, start with the classroom practice, adopt BYOD and create networked learners by prioritising those areas of the school that show good practise and are keen to champion the new direction. These staff could then lead PLGs and share their good practise to the rest of the staff while the building catches up.

    Clearly you have done your audit, ICT inquiry and are now ready to get into it so I hope this helps

  • Graham Young (View all users posts) 03 Jun 2014 9:04am ()

    good advice Steve... it is about a cultural shift first and changes of that nature are usually at least 2/3 years in the making. its about what we can do not what we cannot...So how are you creating networks and interdependicies for your learners in your traditional spaces?

  • Thomas Bigge (View all users posts) 03 Jun 2014 9:28pm ()

    Steve, 

    I have to admit that I saw your profile picture and I felt compelled to read, and read I did! I particularly like how you discuss all the soft-cognitive skills that are at the core of 21st century learning. You sum it up by stating:

    "the key for 21st century learning lie is co constructing, colaborating, sharing ideas, being innovative and working beyond the walls of the traditional classroom"

    Very nicely put. That idea of 'busting the silo' is very compelling. If students spend 18.5% of their 'waking hours' in a formal learning environment, imagine the possibility of learning that can happen elsewhere. Traditional learning environments are very limiting when they are looked at from that perspective. So if students start to learn beyond the walls of the classroom then what is the new role of the teacher going to be? Makes me think about AKO and the idea that the teacher is no longer raised above the students. Both students and teachers are partners in education.  It does start to challange some fairly traditional ideas of education. Also, what would be the best way to equip teachers with the pedagogy required for 21st century learning? So much to think about . . . 

    Anyway, I read becuase I saw a rad profile picture and I have mused for long enough. 

  • Senga White (View all users posts) 04 Jun 2014 9:23am ()

    I am particularly interested in MLE's from a library perspective. The idea of having a central learning space in the school that offers all the benefits of an MLE that teachers who would like to explore the idea of using or collaborating with another teacher or teachers can do so.  Kind of 'dipping their toes in the water'. It would allow for teachers within different disciplines in a secondary environment to collaborate across their departments and have all the resourcing for research and ubiquitious learning in one space, as well as be able to plan and collaborate with a librarian who can support and contribute to the learning outcomes.

  • steve (View all users posts) 14 Jul 2014 11:59am ()

    Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for liking the photo, the truth is that all of my actual photos were too big to upload so I found this one, which amused me!

    You mentioned the idea of 'busting the silo's", which has got me thinking... How do we deconstruct this traditional school structure? because most schools are physically built, resourced and more importantly seen by staff in these terms. So I have been thinking about a concept of theming areas of our school around our six Houses. Then each house area would have tutors from each of the core subjects allowing for HOD's, HOLA's and Deans to work along side each other in these colaborative areas. The only obvious constarin being specialist rooms such as PE. Interestingly it also occured to me that a model such as this would require minimal structural change to the current site plan... What do you think?

    Posted on Friday, 11 July 2014, 8:05 PM
  • steve (View all users posts) 14 Jul 2014 12:20pm ()

    Realy enjoyed reading this article... Ed Gazette 'Flexible Space can be the right fit' 14th July

    It is about a Devonport primary schools approach to MLE. The bit that stood out for me was the way all of the staff shared and owned the vision " It works because our teachers believe in the benefits that flexible space provides for the children and for themselves. It is a highly collaborative and organised approach to learning and teaching."

    http://www.edgazette.govt.nz/Articles/Article.aspx?ArticleId=8938

  • Howard Pinder (View all users posts) 10 Jun 2014 8:59am ()

    I have enjoyed reading this thread so far. As someone from a very traditional school, I was interested to see if schools were getting into the latest fad or genuinely implementing MLE’s because they believed MLE’s have a positive effect on student achievement. I have read lots of posts and tried to summarise these to get my head around MLE’s….

    As was previously stated “Students appear to be more engaged in MLE's especially when devices are being used, however what I am interested in is knowing if this type of learning raises student achievement?”  

    But it is pleasing to see that the Who, How and What are being investigated and it is also good to see what preparation is being put in place;  Research, visiting existing MLE's, educating the community, listening to student voice and trialing are all essential before delving into MLE’s.

     

    I liked the idea of “starting with BYOD and creating networked learners by prioritising those areas of the school that show good practise and are keen to champion the new direction. These early adopters could then lead PLGs and share their good practise to the rest of the staff while the building catches up.” Also it was interesting to note that there is the potential, as we all rush to convert our corridors into 'learning streets' and our libraries into 'MLEs', that the teaching in these wonderful spaces will continue to be 'single cell'. The message is clear “change their pedagogy before you change their furniture.” What we won't do is rush in spending money to "look" like we have a modern learning environment, before the thinking is there.

  • Curtis Gaylor (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2014 1:04pm ()

    Question????  Is it now compulsary for new schools to have MLEs?  And if a school is over code and needs a new room added on, will that room need fit into the MLE relm?  What im asking is - Is it now a ministry requirement?

    Any info is appreciated.

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 20 Jun 2014 2:58pm ()

    Kia ora Curtis

    I'm not 100% sure of the answer to your question, however while I was on the Board of my kids school, it certainly seemed the MLEs was a requirement from the MOE. My understanding was that any upgrades or new buildings etc should be planned/implemented as an MLE.

    This page here on the MOE website states that MLEs are a priority of "well-managed school property" and it might be worth further reading from here.

  • Mandy Owen :D (View all users posts) 04 Jul 2014 2:48pm ()

    Yes Todd I agree research is so important.  We are in the midst of  planning for building a MLE at the moment.  We want to do it right, and in our area there are not a lot of places we can go to see them in action.  We have though gone out to the one that is operating MLE’s to talk about what is working for them and to see them in action. They are also very new and we have been able to talk to them about what influenced their decisions around what they built, staffing and resourcing.  Because our options were limited in our area we have gone outside the area.  We take some of our teachers on a “road trip” each year with particular focuses in mind.  One of the areas that we had in mind this year was around the MLE and it was beneficial going into schools who are down the track with this, and how their plans have changed as each new “hub”  has developed.  We visited some very new schools, and it was interesting to already hear the things they would have done differently.  

     In amongst all of this we have been thinking about the staff that we will be putting into this environment and the skills and thinking that is required to work collaboratively with others. Being able to have conversations around furniture and other resources has been very beneficial too. Actually talking to tamariki working in these environments, seeing them interacting with the technology and again having conversations with them about what the pros and cons are has again been beneficial in the forward planning in our process.

    Such a lot to think about and although we want it done now, it has been important to take this time to ensure we get it right.  

  • Nenah Kelemete (View all users posts) 09 Jul 2014 1:31pm ()

    So true Todd the amount of research you have to undertake to progress and determine what you can do and how you can do it? 

    Remembering to always make sure not to rush in just because it's the latest thing and it looks good. 

    There is so much to think about and so many great models out there...we (my school and I) have been on our journey for a long time and seem to keep running into roadblocks. We've figured the best way tackle it is a bit at a time and with our students and the community as our guides.

  • marshall diggs (View all users posts) 14 Jul 2014 3:31pm ()

    As leaders, what preparations do we need to undertake - to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance MLEs?

    What strategies should, or could, principals apply in their role in resource allocation for e-learning and modern learning environments?

    Strategies could include:

    -          RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH (well said Todd)

    -          Professional Development

    -         Creating shared vision and understanding

    -         Ensure that expenditure aligns with the school charter and strategic plans

    -         Revisit the remodel the library (spending, space, uses) and / or the ‘librarian’ as an e-learning                centre and resource to host, teach and develop e-learning.

    -          Create a budget committee

    -          Investigate alternative revenue streams, (overseas learners, pub charity, community      

               partnerships)

    -          Reviewing and culling some traditional budgeting structures and expenditures

    -          Be proactive not reactive

    -          BES (2009) states:  leaders in high performing schools align resourcing to pedagogical and philosophical purposes, that leaders prioritise/rationalise expenditure.

    -          Review Stationery spending:

    Point England School said that by going 1:1 devices for the Year 4-8 students, that it drastically reduced children stationery expenses,

    I guess my thinking is challenged after hearing Steven Harris speak on MLE, he stated, “Schools need a 20year strategic plan not a 3 or 4 year plan”. With this in mind I have been enjoying wrestling with the dilemmas of resourcing for today or resourcing for tomorrow (i.e. e-learning and MLE).

  • andreahunter (View all users posts) 16 Jul 2014 11:58am ()

    As leaders we need to have clear goals in place to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance  MLEs.   As Marshall said we need to research MLEs and their effectiveness in raising student achievement.  Leader’s need to have a clear understanding of MLEs and as mentioned throughout the korero, it’s not just the physical environment.  We have the research and evidence to support this.  Evidence and research needs to be presented well to the staff and BOT to reposition mindsets.   

    The MOE states that “schools must progressively upgrade their teaching and learning spaces to complete all upgrades by 2020. The first step is to assess school property against the MLE standard using the MLE school assessment tool.    The information from the assessment tool focuses on the physical aspects of a MLE.  Providing teachers with an open, flexible learning environment where inquiries are shared, interventions devised collaboratively and reflections based on both self and peer observations, can lead to the development of a robust, continuously improving community of practice (Mark Osborne).

    Using our findings we are able to make MLEs a priority goal then that commitment should be reflected in decisions about staffing, teaching resources, and teacher professional development to increase the change of achieving the goal.

  • CadeE (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 9:57am ()
    • As leaders, what preparations do we need to undertake - to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance MLEs?

    We need to be really clear about 'The Why'. With so much change in education we need to navigate a course that builds sustainable/meaningful change in our schools. Totally agree with Todd's comment regarding context, it would be a big mistake to try and replicate another school in your own context. Time is another key, often we visit schools where change has taken in excess of 5 years - it is important to aways remember this. 

  • Carmen Kenton (View all users posts) 08 Jun 2014 9:38pm ()

    Taking the time to investigate all sorts of possibilities is really important, Cade.  I also think that experimenting within your own school's context is really useful too and that it should be part of that investigative process. 

  • Patrice O'Connor (View all users posts) 29 Jun 2014 9:47pm ()

    I agree that investigation is needed as it can be a signficant jump for your school and teachers to take, especially if your school is set out very tranditionally and segmented in its physical setting and your "mind set" for teaching is not yet in the 21st MLE mindset.  

    Therefor I believe it is important to get a balance of schools along the "journey" otherwise it can be very over whelming if you only go to schools that are brand new, purpose built etc (gives you a vision, but can also leave you with bigger questions of where to start or can also validate for some staff to say "that could never work for us because we are not new, don't have that budget, can't hand pick staff etc....") which has happened before.  

    By going to schools along the journey you can see the progressions, the thinking, learn from their successes and what they would "do over".  As others in this thread have said it is important that why you are investigating that you are constantly talking about the teaching and learning pedagogy and practice and not getting fixated on the physical.  This takes time.  A short visit is not going to do it you need to have quality time to pick their brains.  

    I found the whole concept of teaching children effectively and tracking children's learning within a MLE perplexing, especially with children with poor self-management and learning/behaviour difficulties. It wasn't until I could sit down with staff at Amesbury Primary and talk about these indepth that my questions started to get answered (I still have a lot more!).  This is what we need to do more - talk, learn, spend time experiencing it, dig deeper, see the reality of teaching and planning from leaders and teachers perspectives etc...not just quick visits or "tasters" that many leaders or teachers experience.  As leaders we need to make resourcing and time available within our investigations to do this more.

  • Heidi Roberts (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 12:54pm ()

    As leaders, what preparations do we need to undertake - to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance MLEs?

    As Todd has already suggested research is fundamental to creating a successful change towards MLEs. At our school we prepared by going out and looking at schools, spending time together with the MLE team (4 teachers) we discussed what learning setting we wanted  e.g. targeted teaching, wet areas, investigation areas, then we decided what furniture and equipment we needed for that. We then looked at the floor plan of the classroom and we cut out desks, chairs, book cases in scale and placed them on the floor plan to see what it would look like. When we finished with that we talked about how management issues e.g. can the students see a teacher from a certain place? how will we manage student books, where will their personal space be in the classroom.So in answer to the question before going down the pathway you need to investigate what is important to you, your school your community and then think about how you will implement it so that you can discuss your beliefs with parents when they come with those questions :-)

  • Rachel Perry (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 12:59pm ()

    As leaders, what preparartions do we need to undertake - to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance MLEs?

    I think starting with how you want to use the MLE spaces, ideally this would include visiting other schools and seeing how they are using MLEs and talking with the teachers who are working in these spaces.  Allowing for discussion between the teachers who are going to be working within the MLE spaces also.  I think there needs to be some consideration to the compatibility of staff members and strategies for a cohesive partnership.  There needs to be a shared vision for how the space is going to be used.  Talking and learning from those who have been working within their MLE. Don't rush in.

  • Aleisha (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 2:38pm ()

    l love these ideas and thinking behind how we are going to use the space and the process you talked about Heidi would be valuable. We are trialling a template that goes with our planning. This template has key questions, our vision as a visual and most importantly a hand drawn floor plan of the learning space. When we plan we are taking time to plan for the space - where teachers, support teachers, parent helpers and students will be in that space. Purposeful learning spaces. This is a soft system that we hope will support us in having successful learning in our new space.

    Something that I have been thinking a lot about today is the detail in which we are moving forward. In my situation I believe we have the big picture, we have our vision, we are working with spaces, we are supporting, talking and encouraging each other along to move forward and take risks. But WHAT does an MLE actually look like in relation to our vision. In a session what are the teachers doing, what are the students doing, what does it look like in a successful MLE in our school... where exactly am I going? I know I am moving forward - but how will I know when I am there or even if I am close. I need more detail, specific detail if I am going to lead.

  • Michelle (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 12:59pm ()

    Agree with both Todd and Cade.

    A mistake that can be made by some schools is that only the leadership team get to immerse themselves in the research, school visits and lengthy pedagogical dialogue.

    Ensuring that all staff have access to and opportunities to learn and change their mind set. Some future thinking schools include support staff, BOT, PTA, caretaker, relievers and part-time staff in all opportunities. Then everyone can talk about the change and be positive about the future for our children.

  • Leigh (View all users posts) 23 Jun 2014 10:47pm ()

    Michelle, I really appreciated you suggestion to involve the whole school community, including support staff, PTA etc.  Too often we focus on the teachers and parents and not on those who communicate daily with stakeholders, often from dual perspective as a staff member and a parent. I am eager to explore this idea.

    It is reassuring to see so many people indicating that the starting point when exploring MLE’s in our schools is in the core values and beliefs (why) leading to the principles (how) and then exploring the practices (what). We have made such good progress with pedagogical developments in the past few years, by inquiring into and applying theories of teaching/learning, unpacking and evaluating our practice in order to measure and raise student achievement. To disregard this and leap into personalised learning pathways or innovative physical spaces with a superficial depth in thinking and pedagogical understanding would be self-limiting.

    I often ask myself “Do I want my children to be taught in a school environment where they work it out as they go along?”   I would be very happy with this if I knew innovation was built on strong pedagogical foundations and quality teaching practice to begin with.

    As much as I believe this is a strategically planned process of evaluating our core believes, values and vision to identify the non-negotiable elements we aspire to uphold - I do see the value in expanding our ideas and exploring the wealth of learning environments and organisational structures available to us.  To consider things from different perspectives, contexts and learning/leadership journeys.

    I also agree that MLE’s put far more urgency on the need for students to be able to access and share their learning through e-learning and BYOD. This has the potential to lead to a deeper pedagogical and more critical approach to personalised learning pathways.
  • Gillian Smith (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 1:04pm ()

    I agree with you Todd. Research research research and  immerse yourself in exmples, readings, other peope's experiences.  I think given that, the next step is to synthesise some of those understandings and trial , as best you can, alternatives.  Armed with the knowledge of what happens after you trial these ideas I think you'll be in a pretty well thought out and analysed space to implement new ways of teahcing and learning .

  • NICK RAYNOR (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 1:08pm ()
    • As leaders, what preparations do we need to undertake - to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance MLEs?

    Forgive me for being cynical (it seems to be something that happened after 20 years in the education business!)- hopefully it is a healthy and positive cynicism. I believe with any innovation or change, that it should be based on need (if it ain't broke don't fix it etc) and evidence ie data and the in depth intimate knowlwedge we have of our schools, through regular monitoring and being actively involved in all facets of school life. There seems to be a rush to spend a lot of money (on building changes and staff PD) on the MLE agenda- Is this what every school really needs, or should some/ many of these schools be prioritising their resources, time and energies that are really pressing for their school. I know I am taking a simplified version of MLEs but I know that some schools are rushing ahead without all the preparation that the question is asking- so in summary- identify the need, PD with colleagues, 'education' with parents and community, deciding on a gradual roll out and trialling, learning from mistakes or going for it whole school (I did this with Interactive Whiteboards about 10 years ago and this was definitely the right thing to do as we could learn and support each other together). Finally, constant monitoring, evaluation and review of the process so that the change can be managed and adjusted effectively.

  • Mandy Vanderwee (View all users posts) 18 May 2014 8:03am ()

    I totally agree with Nick.  I think schools have to be careful not to throw money at a cause without strong evidence that change is necessary or people are ready.  Research other schools and environments, talk to staff, collaborative ideas, involve the community and collect research about whether MLEs are making a difference to student achievement.  

    As a home owner I probably wouldn't have a consultant come and change all the decor in my house if the existing furniture was working well and I would not get all my wiring replaced at once if most of if was working fine.  I would do piece by piece and search for best prices and get quotes.  Quite often when redecorating you talk to lots of people.

    Being in a school or class is the same.  Collaborating with staff and providing PD sounds good.  Having staff who are passionate to trial or pilot new ways or resources is sensible so they can iron out pitfalls, role model to staff and help with the learning. The students will help too, as the culture of the school changes.

    With the few classes we have out our school so far.....I am convinced that BYOD and MLEs help with engaging students but I am yet to see a change in student achievement.

  • Jared Stein (View all users posts) 05 Jul 2014 5:27pm ()

    Mandy I think you too have made some strong points here which are important facets of ensuring the decision making enhances the MLE’s. I recently went to a school where I saw some a wonderful MLE’s but for the most the teachers were using vey traditional methods and strategies to teach their students. I had to ask myself what was going on and what would lead to this situation? I wonder if as you put it  the school leader/s had, without strong evidence, created a change that perhaps wasn’t necessary or that the teachers weren’t ready or equipped to change and hence resistant to it.

    I believe principal need to:

    • Ensure staff have time to plan their MLE lessons  such as having the time to explore different internet sites or look at various educational software
    • Ensure that their staff a fully trained in whatever MLE facets are core to a school/classroom
    • Ensure that their teachers have accessibility to core MLE resources, including home access if possible
    • Ensure they have the technical support, as without good technical support in the classroom teachers cannot be expected to  overcome the barriers preventing them from playing their pivotal role within MLE’s 
  • Suzanne Donovan Skeens (View all users posts) 26 Oct 2014 5:14pm ()

    I really like the analogy of how we maintain and renovate our own homes. I just had to say that I am always in awe of how unbeknown to me, I am so influenced by fashion when it comes to couches I like and colours. Perhaps we are being influenced by fashion with MLE's and even though the plumbing in my home is really old (told to me by the plumber after I broke a water pipe) it still works really well. So now I am wandering about your analogy, which I still think is valid and wandering, why we are messing with what works well. And there lies the issue. Is what we are currently doing working well? Is it meeting the needs of our learners and will it serve them well into their future? Thank you Mandy.

  • Sarah Kirk (View all users posts) 29 May 2014 12:27pm ()

    Hi Nick

    I like the way you implemented interactive whiteboards through a collabrative approach which ensured collective learning as you went through a 'gradual' process.  While we are already in the twenty-first century, a change of teaching practice (which to me is the heart of the MLE) is going to take time. I see this third aspect of the MLE (virtual, physical and conceptual) as the most crucial in terms of where we direct resources.  The key is to improve student achievement, especially for our PLs, this will occur through changes in teaching practice.  Directing resources towards teacher-learning and developing an understanding of a student-centered curriculum will empower teachers to risk-take and try new practices in their classrooms, whatever their layout/structure.

  • Tim de Vries (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 2:57pm ()

    What strategies should, or could, principals apply in their role in resource allocation for e-learning and modern learning environments?

    I've enjoyed the quote from the weekend: "Ready, Fire, Aim." You sometimes just need to get cracking (within reason, of course). 

    At the end of last year, the principal of my school allocated a generous sum of money for each classroom teacher to design and set up their classrooms. Many ran off and bought furniture etc off Furnware, Trademe etc while others let their students buy the furniture at the start of the following year. While I understand the classroom layout does not consistute an MLE, it did however allow people to work at their own pace. Some kept some desks, some went all out designing flexible learning spaces. In turn, teachers have evolved their pedagogy in line with these changes. Collaboration is starting to increase, student-directed learning is increasing... the wheels are starting to turn.

    Funding, however... more people are wanting to connect in the virtual world more. I did discover there is FREE MONEY out there. We are seriously lining up grant applications from all over Canterbury. I'm excited about the prospect of developing our virtual online space over this year. 

  • Gavin Burn (View all users posts) 30 Apr 2014 4:32pm ()
    • As leaders, what preparations do we need to undertake - to ensure strategic decision-making and leadership enhance MLEs

    My concern is that we are forgetting what we know about quality teaching and learning and what works. The furniture, the open spaces and the whole 'MLE ' thing support what we do, it does not drive what we do.

    I like to refer to Julia Atkins model (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_-bp-euoU_CQ/S_JN-i2nbWI/AAAAAAAAAHA/alHltjCOBVc/s1600/Screen+shot+2010-05-18+at+7.50.54+PM.png) as a guide to refining our current practice, making decisions and as a reference point for all we do.

    At the centre is the WHY , this is our schools vision and what we believe. This vision must be shared by ALL stakeholders- students, teachers, parents, wider community and BOT.

    The next circle is the HOW, these are our guiding principles . E.g.

    Personalised learning
    Increased student ownership
    Inclusive curriculum etc

    The outer circle is the WHAT, these are our day to day practices that support and ensure our vision is lived and expressed through everything we do. This is what our vision ' looks like' in practice. This is the important part that everyone must be onboard with.

    Only after all of this can we then think about the environment and the 'hard systems' that will support our vision, principles and practices.

    If schools are cutting out walls, purchasing furniture and creating caves with beanbags are they getting the support, the professional development and guidance to go alongside this ?

    As future focused leaders we have to focus on the pedagogy, the teaching and learning and the IMPACT on student achievement. Our decisions need to be well grounded and supported by a clear vision, positive learning culture and learning environment that meets the needs of our learners...

  • Gaylyn Lockington (View all users posts) 14 May 2014 10:58am ()

    Very good order put together by Gavin. It's wonderful how schools can ana are able to change their classroom environment however our quality teaching pedagies and priorities should always lie with the students' progress and achievements. The environment changes is a bonus when affordable and yes in this modern technology age it is important for students to be well prepared for any situation.

    For us here in the Cook Islands I would say we are still several years behind with regards to the availability of the different technology resources in our schools however we still try to keep up with the rest of the world, after all, our students eventually end up in universities there in NZ or Australia. So if the students are taught the skills while in school reagrdless of their new situation they will perform to the best of their abilities.

  • Michelle (View all users posts) 01 May 2014 10:41am ()

    As a Christchurch school nears the top of the Ministry schedule in terms of designing new learning spaces, there should be plenty of support from the Ministry to prepare schools. (?)

    I know Lorraine Moss is supporting some schools with visioning for design and she uses Julia Atkins model as mentioned by Gavin. This encourages school communities to take a closer look at their values and beliefs, principles and practices. Often a community agree on vlaues and beliefs (that part seems relatively easy), it's the practices that have been providing the lengthy but worthwhile discussions at staff level.

    One concern I have from observing where our school is heading in terms of collaboration...Are the basics being left behind? When a team or pair of teachers who are being more collaborative and placing a lot of focus on finding new/better ways of doing things (more meetings, documenting, sharing ideas, resources planning and assessment, teaching strategies...), some of the basics (effective literacy practice, monitoring of students etc...) are being forgotten. 

    It is the leaders responsibility to ensure the basics are still being done while staff are 'prototyping'.

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e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

Exploring leadership for change, vision, policy and strategy that integrates ICTs into learning.