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Enhancing student learning through Ultranet LMS

The Context

The CCC Cluster is made up of thirteen Canterbury Schools who are in their third year of an ICTPD Contract.  The schools the form this cluster group are Waikuku, Hanmer, St Albans, Waikari, St Patricks Kaiapoi, Greta Valley, Rotherham, Omihi, Waiau, Papanui, Emmanuel Christian, Leithfield and Waipara Schools.

During 2010/2011, three schools in the cluster introduced a learning management system into their schools (St Patricks Kaiapoi, Waiau and Waikuku). After a review of available learning management systems, the cluster identified at the end of 2011 that more schools planned to implement the Ultranet Learning Management System.

During 2012 many of the cluster schools will be developing a shared vision for how the use of Ultranet will be utilised in their schools to support teaching and learning. At the same time the three schools who are at least a year down the track with Ultranet implementation will take the time to review where they are at, re-identify the benefits of using an LMS and plan and implement initiatives for improved use. Teachers will be using the cluster Teaching As Inquiry model to drive this process.  These inquiries will then be shared with the rest of the cluster, providing useful information as they establish their own vision and action plans.

The Research

In planning their inquiries teachers referred to the New Zealand Curriculum Effective Pedagogy statements (Page 28-32) and considered how their use of Ultranet would align with best practice.  They also considered the following benefits of using Ultranet as outlined in the following document, based on research conducted by BECTA and EDTECH.

 Benefits of using Ultranet

  • Improved organisation of information and communication across the school
  • Increasing parental involvement and supporting learning at home
  • Increased opportunities for independent and personalised learning
  • Enhancing the accessibility, quality, relevance and range of learning resources
  • Increased opportunities for collaborative learning and interaction
  • Building the school identity and community.

http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/1485/1/becta_2010_useoflearningplatforms_report.pdf

 Examples of Inquiries

Attached is the Teaching As Inquiry documentation from six teachers.  These provide examples of the process that each teacher worked through, along with reflections of their success, challenges and identified next steps.

Ali_TAI_May_2012.doc

Viv_TAI_May_2012.doc

Claire_TAI_ May_2012.doc

Jo_TAI_May_2012.doc

Jemma_TAI_May_2012.doc

Sandra_TAI_May_2012.doc

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Key Lessons

Some common lessons that emerged from the first round of teacher inquiries are as follows:

  •  The children responded well to opportunities where they could use the Ultranet tools to express themselves (ie Discussions module, contributions to the class news feed)
  • In order to keep momentum going with ClassSpace - it is important to set expectations that it will be updated weekly with some new content.  This also keeps the interest of the students
  • Students need to feel ownership of the site.  Class journalist initiatives are working well.
  •  Still limited buy-in from parent community - need to keep encouraging parents to visit - thought the children
  • Our Teaching As Inquiry model is a great reflective tool to ensure we are using Ultranet to support teaching and learning.  It is not about using all of the tools that are available to us - it is about selecting the tools that will meet the needs of our students/class programme and using them well.

 Next Steps for the Cluster

  • Key findings from teacher inquiries to be shared with the rest of the cluster for consideration as they develop their Ultranet implementation plan
  • Therese Coleman to focus on the development of ePortfolios using Ultranet as a part of her Term 2 sabbatical
  • Teachers to continue with inquiries.  Professional development provided for teachers to support them in identifying their next steps