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Sophie's ilearn staff pd inquiry

Sophie's ilearn staff pd inquiry

Last updated by Sophie Wright


Inquiry: What happens when teachers are given opportunities for ongoing e-learning PLD to explore and use MRGS’ iLearn LMS?


Focus for Inquiry

At MRGS we have had a moodle-based LMS operating for several years. Having been part of an ICT cluster, I have seen the value in having a shared learning space for both teachers and students.

The uptake amongst staff has been quite variable and I was keen to find ways to encourage staff to use Moodle as part of their e-learning to support teaching and learning.

One of the key school-wide goals has been to develop powerful independent learners. We knew that a large proportion of students had access to the internet outside of school. Therefore one of our goals has been to build capacity in staff and students to use appropriate technologies for collaboration, creativity, communication, and thinking to support teaching and learning.

A powerful driver for change has come from an e-learning lead team of teachers. In the past three years they have been on their own journey of Teaching Inquiry focused on e-learning. These innovative teachers are now leading their colleagues in e-learning. 

My focus as a leader in e-learning has been how best to support this.

Teaching Inquiry


Goal: Providing support to wider staff with a focus on encouraging use of iLearn.

From conversations with some great educators, I wondered if professional learning flourishes when teachers have time to explore new ideas, have choice in how and what they do for inquiry, receive on-going support, and have opportunities to reflect and share their learning with like-minded colleagues.

From the experts:

Autonomy, mastery, purpose: key motivators to adult learners (Daniel Pink)

Characteristics of adult learners – Rhonda Wynne

Inquiry: What happens when teachers are given opportunities for ongoing e-learning PLD to explore and use MRGS’ iLearn LMS?


Throughout the year, we ran after-school sessions to help interested teachers develop their ilearn/moodle tool box.

Each time, a few new ideas were introduced that could be acted upon. There was opportunity for small group and one-to-one support from Lead team teachers.

The skills were advertised, but we also responded to teacher requests for support.

I captured some of these on ScreenR so that the teaching could be “re-played”. Links to these videos, along with others from EGGS and Moodle.Org were made available to all staff.

In Term 4 workshops were offered as part of school-wide staff e-learning PLD

Learning Inquiry – What happened

Teachers began to use the home page of iLearn for notices of current events: Maths Week activities, NIWA Science Fair, Anti-violence Community Meeting, School Examination Information, Outdoor Education Notices etc.

Courses revised to reflect the NCEA realignment, especially Year 11 and 12 courses. Departments working together to create useful and relevant course pages.

A number of teachers created teacher pages within courses for individual classes – with specific links to daily teaching and learning activities. This included links to class wikis and/or facebook class groups.

Audio/visual resources made available for specialised learning areas.

Continuing development of hot potato quizzes and links to digital learning objects; especially in Science and Maths.

Greater use of Assignment Modules so that students were submitting work, getting teacher feedback, submitting another draft, more feedback, and then submitting final assignments. Paperless rich formative assessment.
I went to see one such class, asked lots of questions and them had them fill out a PMI. I got to thinking about some common threads that came through: Click here for example of Student voice. Reflections from 9ENG class

That they helped each other. (collaboration)

That they all completed the task, on time. (engaged)

That a student thought to add a picture, then showed the rest how to do it. (taking initiative)

How they were alerted to spelling and grammar mistakes. (immediate formative feedback)

How it seemed easier to them. (building confidence)

That it seemed more like what you would do in “Real Life”  (authentic learning contexts)

One was worried that they helped each other, but are we supposed to do that at school? (Challenging our/their ideas about school culture)  


Student emails were enabled in term 2, and teachers learned how to message class groups.

Departments taking advantage of Lead team teachers and/or PLD workshops in Term 4 to work together to create and improve their iLearn areas.

Barriers to student access discussed and minimised. (Common enrolment key. Quick links from home page)

Specific students given access and training to develop certain course areas. Eg. Guidance and counselling, Techxperts group, Enhanced 1001 class pages.



Next steps

This is the final year of our ICT cluster, and I am thrilled that we have grown a group of e-learning lead teachers who will continue to develop their own skills, share their learning, and support students and colleagues.

Teachers find that Moodle is not always intuitive, and want to use a variety of shared learning spaces to support teaching and learning. iLearn needs to be seen as the starting place for students with links created to these other spaces. We will need to continue to provide support to all staff so that all feel confident about using MRGS’ iLearn Moodle LMS.

Feedback from colleagues suggest that practice changes when teachers take many small steps over time. Knowledge and resources need to be easily accessible, and we need systems in place to request support. At the moment, requests are made ad hoc to me or lead team teachers.

I would like to continue regular fortnightly afterschool sessions for staff; also to begin to use student Techxsperts to contribute to staff learning.

In iLearn, there is an e-learning section for staff which has not yet being fully utilised by all staff. I need to invest some time in making it a more accessible, more easily navigated, and valued learning space.

Our Moodle server needs to be upgraded over the holidays. We will all need some PLD around the use of Moodle 2.2. 2013 also holds the promise of Fibre arriving to the school gate, and much-improved wireless access across the school.

Now that every student has a school email account, every teacher will be shown how they can easily manage messaging their own classes and students.

Explicit training about net-safety and digital citizenship will be provided next year.

 … as teachers, we have lots to learn. But we are on a journey together.




Other cool stuff I’ve gotten to be involved in as Director of e-Learning @ MRGS

Sharing the learning with e-learning Lead teachers