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NEAL Reflective Summary - Milestone 5

Increasing the e-Learning leadership and ICT capability of regional cluster schools.

Nearly a term and a half into 2012, and NEAL has continued to work with our participating schools and make strides in supporting them and the overall ability for eductors to share best practice.  Our approach has centred around a core group of schools, with individuals who have expressed interest in exploring new possibilities in learning.  Finding new ways to share information regularly, effectively and with the greatest probability for important sessions to be shared even further through other networks, has been key.  We made a video with some of our key lead teachers, with a clear position on improving teaching practice throughout our schools.  The emphasis was very much on the fact that we can all contribute a voice to improving education and that it is not reliant on just one or two individuals.  We tried to do this in a way that might entice other teachers to come on board and share what they do best.  We wanted something that would reach people in a way that video can do effectively.

http://neal.school.nz/about/about-us

 

 Adding to this, we set up a Twitter account to not only broadcast upcoming events and focus attention to our site, but also find out what is happening locally, nationally and internationally in similar spaces.

@NEALnz31

 

Many of the schools with whom we have had the most success, have been those with a clear mandate for improving eLearning within their school.   They often send individual teachers to NEAL events, and sometimes offer to host or faciliate different events in the community.  Their greatest strength is in their ability to share, encourage, and support their colleagues.   From our lead schools, some of those which stood out include:

Northcote College - Simon Condon

Westlake Girls' High School - Tony Morgan

Rosmini College - Geoff Wood

Campbell's Bay Primary - Lynley Ainsworth

Pine Hill School - Julien LeSueur

Albany Jr. High School - Mike Jackson

Epsom Girls' Grammar - Claire Amos

Albany Sr. High School - Mark Osborne

Takapuna Normal Intermediate - Susan Cattell, Jackie Jones, & Anna Marie McAleer

Long Bay College - Carol Mare

Rangitoto College - Jenna Bates

Orewa College - Tony Zalloum & Mark Quigley 

Carmel College - Karen Mitchell

One of the areas in which many schools have shown an interest has been Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).  Several schools in our area are looking to implement and integrate devices into their network and school culture, and have been relying on the first hand experience of those individuals who have already begun the journey.

The most successful sessions often occur when there is a broad discussion between teachers who are working in everyday learning contexts with students; they are aware of the dynamics of managing a class with new tools and resources, and are also aware of the social and even political implications. 

While we always welcome the support and advice from outside contributors, the main difference between this year compared to last is the faith and support in the local resources we already have.  It has been NEAL's goal to create environments where individuals can take risks and demonstrate their abilities that can truly resonate with others in the community.  This approach is far more powerful than simply inviting in the 'experts' and hoping that their words will inspire others to act. While this does still happen, the results are nowhere near effective as with those indivduals who have been given the encouragement to share their talents and insights.

Reflecting on some areas of our PD offerings has had a range of success indicators. Some are more evident than others.

If we were to reflect, in particular, on MyPortfolio, I feel as a cluster we would have had much more success in more closely following up with teachers attending the taster sessions.  How much of its implementation is tied to the long term goals of the school?  Will there be time for these individuals to continue to develop this resource?  Unless there are teachers going back into their learning environments with the motivation and support to make it a long term, key space for teachers, the likelihood of MyPortfolio going further is unlikely.

 In terms of Takapuna Normal Intermediate, one of our lead schools, we have made some progress by ensuring our specialist teachers (Hard Tech, Food Science) are cultivating this resource further than what is expected of classroom teachers.  This approach encourages greater interaction between teachers and students, rather than the resource acting as a digital filing cabinet.  As an Intermediate, we are considering how this resource might replace the current LMS  in 2013 so that students could own their learning 'evidence' from Year 7 and take it with them when they leave.  How this shift will occur, depends on a mindset that allows trust models around Digital Citizenship developing further.  This is also an area that will develop even further to run alongside the curriculum, much like the Key Competencies do.  TNIS will be spending the remainder of the school year working to develop the potential and power of MyPortfolio and weighing up the value of the LMS at the same time.  This information will be a catalyst for many other schools who are at similar junctures.

As this develops, we will integrate other thinking around ICT and eLearning as it will inform our practice overall.