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Enabling e-Learning forum: What does an online programme of learning look like?

As close to 5 million kiwis continue to slow COVID-19 by staying home in lockdown, educators are having to think about different ways of planning and facilitating learning from a distance using e-learning tools and effective pedagogies.

Timetable 3There are a growing amount of resources being shared about ways to support learners through online learning platforms, interactive tools and live video conferencing programmes. These digital solutions offer ways for students to access teachers, other learners as well as content online. Learning tasks can be set in real time (synchronous) or over time (synchronous). e-Portfolios can be used to set learning and track progress – in real time.

Perry Rush, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation reminded us recently, that due to our current crisis, there are families who are experiencing varying degrees of stress and that our job at this time is to infuse any home learning plan with a deep sense of humanity. He also goes on to say, that as we design learning from home;

Technology is not a pedagogy. It is an enabler and provides an opportunity for us to connect to our students and them to each other…..The important question is not what online learning resource is best for you, but how technology might support your kaupapa; your school’s approach to learning. This is the time you go back to your school’s vision, values and local curriculum, and be confident about articulating your approach...There is no perfect plan, each is unique. Perry also offers to keep things simple, not to over-complicate things and build in tasks that the students can do themselves – their parents will thank us for itPrincipal Matters, Issue 10, 2 April 2020

When planning for distance learning, it might mean we:

  • check to see everyone is ok, safe and ready to learn at home, online
  • make relationships a priority (chat, comments, video)
  • ensure everyone is safe online
  • start small
  • start with what you know
  • plan less on-task activities per day
  • set simple tasks that student can achieve (without parental tuition)
  • simplify learning objectives to one key concept or skill
  • set time to put the one key concept or skill into practiceWeb conferencing
  • offer more localised challenges around the house or whare
  • build in time for passion projects
  • implement systems for recognition and reward
  • use interactive tools to give students a voice
  • use video conferencing tools for instructions and socialisation with the teacher and other classmates
  • use video recordings to flip learning and make rewindable
  • capturing learning using e-portfolios as real time reporting
  • balance offline with online activities
  • invite parents to become part of the learning by choice
  • for secondary schools – know how much workload each student has been set in each of the different learning areas
  • share links to support wellbeing at home during COVID-19
  • make time to support each other as teachers from home
  • balance your day with your own familie's needs

For more valuable considerations see, Things to think about when setting up home learning, planning for learning at home with key considerations for Universal Design for Learning as well as Tips for Successful Online learning meetings

Here are some examples of what a daily/weekly distance learning timetable might look like from across Aotearoa. Some of the examples shared also make time for mental, social and emotional wellbeing - naturally a priority during this time.

Timetable example 1   Timetable example 2

Why not spread the teaching load through collaboration?

In this Enabling e-Learning video, Developing key competencies through writing collaborations (2:13) students share the process of story writing (crafting, modifying) using Google docs, which have helped to develop key competencies - such as critical thinking and relating to others through constructive feedback. This can also be facilitated from a distance.

What are your top tips for others planning distance learning programmes during this time? What does your daily virtual timetable look like? We’d love for you to share. Please feel free to add these below.

Don’t miss out on the Enabling e-Learning Term 2 calendar of events (live events and discussions), specifically dedicated to supporting educators facilitating distance learning from home.

Also see the announcement today: New TV channels, online learning, and booklets for students learning from home during lockdown

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced an $87.7 million emergency funding boost to allow schools students to work from home. It includes:

  • two new television channels for education-related content, one for English medium and one for Māori medium, including Pacific-targeted content
  • some specialised content for parents, to help them support their child's education, and early learners
  • hard-copy material provided and delivered for different year levels
  • working with telecommunications companies and internet service providers to connect households without internet connection as quickly as possible
  • working with schools to identify students who lack a suitable device for online learning, and delivering as many devices as possible to the students who will benefit the most.

Priority will be for high school students working towards NCEA and those with "greatest need to disadvantage" Full story TV1 News »

Image sources: Pxfuel.com timetable, CC0, Ara Simmons, wellbeing website, Flickr, CCO, IsmaSam Video conferencing a New Bamboo


  • Darren (View all users posts) 11 Apr 2020 7:46am ()

    A common issue that I can see across many of the plans that have been put in place is that fully online learning does not have (or need) a timetable. Replicating school routines online will just create a congested, stressful experience for learners. You may timetable some synchronous time, but otherwise, keep it light and keep it fluid. Set out a plan for a week to a fortnight with what to do outlined within that time. This gives learners the chance to work through at their own pace and in their own time. They will move from being in reactive mode to proactive.

    I would also challenge the idea that learning has to be simple, functional and chunked into small bits. It does not have to look like this at all. How are you going to keep learners engaged with that sort of approach? They can completely ignore it if they want to. Why not a few 'rich' tasks that leave plenty of space for other things to happen. 

    A few ideas here.



  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 14 Apr 2020 12:09pm ()

    Thanks so much Darran. This is all rich food for thought. No doubt teachers will find different approaches that will suit their learners' needs and teaching resources (including time), but your extensive experience and expertise in this area is invaluable. Thank you for sharing your learning design ideas too. Perhaps we could pick your brains some more, if you were ok with that?

    In terms of the flexible timetable idea, here's what's happening in our house at the moment. My son's intermediate teacher sent home instructions for us to support learning at home, where:

    • An introductory slideshow is narrated and uploaded into Google classroom at the start of the week for the students to check in on their weekly tasks
    • Online set for maths (in Education Perfect) and offline tasks set for literacy
    • Google meet times will be set up for learning groups
    • Teacher is available during 9-11 and 1-3 if support is needed

    From a parent's perspective I think this is very doable, but my son is 12yrs. How might this look for younger learners? Any ideas to consider there too? In fact, 

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 14 Apr 2020 12:17pm ()

    Thanks for sharing this Edutopia link (and the other articles in the link) Susan, there's some real food for thought in regards to balancing online and offline tasks as well as considerations for techie support and tools for connecting online.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 16 Apr 2020 9:38am ()

    A big thank you to everyone who joined us in yesterday's informal Q&A with Heath Chittenden (Ashhurst School). An even BIGGER thank you to Heath for sharing his ideas, processes, tips and tricks for creating digital content to support learners online. This webinar recording is also available on our Webinar recordings page. Please feel free to on-share, ask any patai (questions) or share your thoughts below.


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 17 Apr 2020 10:51am ()

    Well we've had a busy time online lately. Another big thank you to everyone who joined us in yesterday's webinar with Lynne Silcock - who shared some practical tips for running video conferences in both Zoom and Google Hangouts.

    This webinar recording is also available on our Webinar recordings page. Thank you Lynne, the resources and top tips you have shared are very helpful during this time. Please note: See slide 31 and 32 in this shared Google presentation for more resources shared during this event.


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 17 Apr 2020 10:56am ()

    Some people might also be interested in this webinar recording, presentation and chat from a recent live session (9/4/2020) on Interactive Learning Online - an interactive, hands-on session looking at web tools to encourage interaction from a distance (Kahoot!, Tricider, ScreenCastify, Jamboard etc). 

    A big huge thank you to Katrina Laurie (Accredited Faciltiator, CORE Education) for this informative and engaging session and the resources shared in this Google presentation. Please feel free to share and tell us what you thought?


    Interactive learning online webinar chat (9/4/2020)

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 22 Apr 2020 11:43am ()


    VLN Primary screenshotHere's a timely message from Rachel Whalley (e-Principal VLN Primary)


    The VLN Community is extending its online programmes to more schools and more students during Term 2.

    Does your school need support to take your learning online and would you like your students to access existing online programmes? The Ministry of Education will fund additional enrolments with the VLN Community by schools who need support to take learning online or would like their students to access existing online programmes. PLD support is also available for schools. Find out how you can participate here:

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 22 Apr 2020 7:41pm ()

    There was close to 100 attendees in today's webinar on Enabling E-learning event- Developing online programmes of learning for diverse learners and everyone found real value in what Ruthanne Kennedy had to share, in terms of planning for diverse learners where we explored; 

    • Key considerations for diverse learners in an online context
    • Principles and tools for effective online learning
    • Strategies and activities

    Another BIG Huge thank you to Ruthanne Kennedy for sharing this wealth of knowledge with us in this shared Google presentation.


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 13 May 2020 1:31pm ()

    As we start to plan for the return to school, post Covid, the reality is;

    More and more schools are integrating online learning programmes (including NetNZ and Te Kura) that utilise multiple modes of communication, are self-paced and personalised to better meet the individualised needs of their learners. Schools like Maniototo Area School have eDeans to help their students access learning inline within and between schools. See more, Online learning benefits for students

    Some of you might remember this webinar we hosted a wee while back on, online learning benefits for students. 

    In this webinar, Rachel Whalley, e-principal of  VLN Primary network, Anne Williams (eDean) Nicky Lewis (e-Learning teacher) Ashburton College and Darren Sudlow (eDirector NetNZ) talk about the potential for students to make powerful connections to learning online in a secondary context; enabling students to be motivated, to learn in different ways, develop personal management skills and then freedom to work and learn flexibly, together - connecting with others in online communities.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 21 Aug 2020 3:36pm ()

    Yesterday we were lucky enough to have Mary Anne Mills share with us strategies and frameworks for understanding our learners better and planning for success by creating enablers and eliminating barriers to learning. In particular, Mary Anne highlighted the science behind Universal Design for Learning framework and how it can be used during planing to ensure we're meeting the needs of all our learners.


    huge thank you goes out to Mary Anne Mills for the taking the time to prepare and for share this process with us in this Google presentation. If you have any pātai (questions) or need some more clarity around this process, please don't hesitate to add a comment below or make contact.


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