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Milestone 3 Reflective Summary

The Northern Education Access Loop (NEAL) employed a Programme and Learning Facilitator beginning mid-February 2011.  The goal was to continue to network and engage teachers and their school communities that would ultimately lead to greater collaboration within the school loop, maximise the UFB connection, and build a strong community of educators.

As this was a brand new role within NEAL, much of Term 1 was spent establishing and strengthening networks to ensure NEAL is a relevant point of difference to school communities.  Creating opportunities and spaces for teachers and their school leaders (both in classroom/school focus and in the technical school infrastructure) was and is crucial to the development and sustainability of the NEAL community.

 As the digital age has provided a massive influx of data and resources to all members of school communities, the question arose as to how NEAL can best maximize, support, filter, and streamline resources to best suit the needs the cluster.

Networking with different lead teachers around NEAL has been an important first step in realizing the potential for future collaboration.

Meeting with these lead teachers and understanding the scope of their existing work is paramount to next steps in reaching a wider community.

For example, the Community Impact Project at Albany Senior High School, held every Wednesday, is a prime example of students working together in a flexible learning environment where creativity, innovation and collaboration are all emphasized. 

NEAL is planning a ‘neXpo’ in Term 3 which will reflect a similar approach to learning outside of the ‘conventional’ classroom setting and provide the support needed to develop project ideas. We are focusing on ICT-enriched and digital learning projects through the actions of a lead teacher and a core group of students. The focus will be on sharing and teaching peers (For example, students making screencasts for one another on video editing) to stimulate creativity and the exploration of new tools and applications.

Also, working directly with students and teachers on projects at Takapuna Normal Intermediate School has provided a strong basis for future collaborations with other schools.  This is also where the Programme Learning Facilitator is based.

Local projects NEAL has initiated or assisted in developing with educators, students and vendors:

 -NEAL website development and launch in alignment with a national ‘superloop’ and structure of site modeled after the successful implementation of Greater Christchurch Schools Network (GCSN) interactive site.

-Digital Stories using Wikispaces

-Google Sketch-up and 3-D model making

-Moodle training

-Managing our Digital Dossier – (Parents’ course pilot project)

-Cybersafety Taskforce with Netsafe

-Emerging Leaders’ Symposium – contribution to presentation and ‘unconference’.

-Beer & Bytes meetings of IT people and teachers from around the community of schools.

-Lead teacher meetings on project and programme development.

Building a Professional Learning Community 

One example of new connections made was with some of the schools within  The National Library and their expertise in integrating 21st century digital with traditional (hard copy) research resources.  The National Library provided an information session to NEAL and its members in the form of managing and supporting resources in both online and through their Learning Studio library in Parnell, Auckland.

Here, teachers also became familiar with the benefits of increasingly important information on copyright and intellectual property. 

Jane Hornibrook with Creative Commons NZ provided a timely and insightful look into what many schools are having to face during these times:  how does intellectual property, current New Zealand and Int’l laws affect the way both staff and students create and collaborate their ideas and resources?

Jane will be leading a second presentation to NEAL schools in July.

Continuing on with the digital management piece, Ian Munroe from the Ministry provided an interesting information session on Better Online Attendance Management.  He discussed many ways to track and report student movement in the school and around the country.  The dramatic effects of the Christchurch earthquake displaced thousands of students, some who relocated into Auckland schools.  In this respect, it was very effective to examine the overarching need for a system that can effectively track student movement. This was very helpful to our school leaders and in particular, the I.T. people who often find it challenging to cope with a myriad of demands on their time.  New ICT-initiatives in pedagogy often puts pressure on developing new technologies.  Thus, information on new systems, both nationally and locally was very timely and helpful.

NEAL also took part in the Ministry initiated myPortfolio taster session with Carolyn Stewart.  This event was held at the wi-fi hot spot at Smales Farm, which was a good test on the flexibility of different online environments. This session allowed for a number of teachers to not only get a taste of what myPortfolio platform looks like, but also network with other teachers from around NEAL.  The ‘blank slate’ of the portfolio was much easier to populate with the knowledge that other teachers were also taking their first steps.  Heath Sawyer will be leading a second MyPortfolio taster session for NEAL in June.

Video Conferencing 

As mentioned above, NEAL has also delved into video conferencing opportunities. There are already schools within NEAL with these capabilities and who are already engaging in curricular areas via this medium.  Our intention is to simply enable schools to a) share what they are already doing with other schools within NEAL and b) explore other trial opportunities with equipment that best maximizes the fibre and our connections within the NEAL community. Through initial contacts with Orewa College and their long-standing association with FarNet, NEAL is currently exploring several trial VC kits on loan to its schools provided through Asnet technologies. NEAL intends to spend much of that latter half of Term 2 and beyond building up a directory of resources for schools and contribute to the overall knowledge base in video conferencing.

 NETWORKS

-Professional Learning Group - Northcote College

-Torque IP

-Netsafe

-The National Library & Learning Studio

-Asnet Technologies

-Fastcom

-Learning Network NZ

-Moodle in Schools

-FarNet

-CORE Education

-Clickview

-E-TV

-Orbit