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Greater Christchurch Schools Network : Reflective Summary Milestone 6

What did we do? What was important for us?

Professional learning: increased confidence and capability within the GCSN community in using the advanced network to enhance teaching and learning activities.

Developing high levels of trust
GCSN continues to ensure that technology infrastructure is right in Christchurch schools.  This process began in 2009. It continues with such activities as significant development in east Christchurch, infrastructure audits in schools and guidance for the very few schools being linked to the UFB rollout in Christchurch.

Working together in the face of difficulty

GCSN has continued in forming an accepted and worthwhile  “champions” network to share knowledge, skills and ideas, and professional learning.   The way GCSN works with champions models the organisation’s commitment to blended e-learning where 21st century e-Learning tools and technologies are blended with effective face-to-face teaching and learning strategies. GCSN is helping local schools unpack the MoE's e-Learning planning framework and providing guidance around how it might work in schools. GCSN Champion reflection

Emerging eleaders professional development programme

Increasing e-Learning leadership and capabilities via this 12 week programme using a blended approach has been highly successful. It has included face-to-face and on-line and virtual experiences.  This programme has enhanced e-leaders' capability of effecting change within their own schools’ e-Learning implementation.  A powerful indicator of success has been the request from course participants for a part two programme. Listen to some of our eleader reflections     

Technical provisions and developments at the schools. 

GCSN has provided a key service in steering schools through the bewildering array of technology products and services on offer from ICT vendors.  Its independent and free advice has saved many Christchurch schools thousands of dollars.  Many schools do not have the technical knowledge or commercial skills to deal with vendors and to make purchasing or technology decisions. GCSN acts successfully as an intermediary between schools and companies to make bulk purchases and broker products and services on their behalf.

Strengthening professional learning communities and increase collaboration across the regional cluster schools

Promoting networked learning

GCSN helps schools unpack what 21st century learning means in their own contexts.  Together with schools it looks at the digital learning environments needed to build to achieve this goal.  It shows schools what is possible and what kind of learning teachers might need to make it work. From strategy to purchasing to building capability,  GCSN helps schools frame their steps into e-learning in a well-structured and well-organised way. At ULearn we presented a workshop titled "...promoting networked learning..." and within this workshop we used video conferencing to bring members of our network in live from Christchurch. Presentation:

Video conferencing

GCSN continues to take the lead in training teachers in the use of video conferencing units it has provided for all secondary schools.  The use of video conferencing includes continuing sessions on scholarship mentoring for teachers in calculus and technology, and discussions on  virtual classroom activity. 

Learning hubs

GCSN has continued to establish learning hubs in some areas of Christchurch. Two examples are:

Pegasus group 

GCSN has successfully working with primary schools in the eastern suburbs that have been badly affected by badly damaged school ICT infrastructures and continuing population loss.    It has provided efficient wireless systems, put in place leadership, planning and literacy support programmes to help ensure that schools are able to support students' learning as far as possible.  GCSN is making strenuous efforts to provide hardware and software for all students in this disadvantaged area.

"GCSN has been incredibly supportive of Aranui Primary School. We have benefited from excellent Professional Development by the staff and from visiting experts. My staff have been able to link this work to their teaching, particularly in Written Language.

From a leadership point of view I have benefited from professional advice on strategic planning and purchasing of hardware."

Principal Aranui Primary School

Hornby Learning Hub

GCSN has played a leading role in ensuring that ICT audits are conducted in all Hornby schools.  This area is unlikely to be SNUPed in the near future.  The outcome has been that schools are well placed to make decisions about the best way to develop efficient ICT infrastructures so students have access to to the internet to support their learning.   This development has been supported by assisting schools in their ICT strategic planning. 


As reported in 2011, teachers have used the GCSN website increasingly as the ‘first port of call’ for all information and support available through the by GCSN community.  

"We’re at a secondary champions meeting people say -it would be really great to have some training on this particular aspect. The next thing it is being all organised and its up on the website and the training happens. Its really good to be able to refer back to the website because you can share it with other staff and they can also partake in the opportunities."

Sarah Dwan –GCSN Champion Villa Maria College

Technical provisions and developments at the schools. 

Fostering new and existing relationships with government, local government, business and members of the community to strengthen the cluster.

GCSN continues to play a significant role in meeting this goal.  It has:

  • provided continuing feedback about the successes and impediments to ICT development that have been become evident through the NEN trial;
  • contributed to N4L consultation including speaking to the parliamentary select committee inquiry into 21st Century learning environments and digital literacy in Christchurch schools; 
  • maintained communication with local and national Ministry of Education staff where possible, especially difficult during the major policy announcements relating to future directions in Christchurch education in September. 

What have we learned?

GCSN is a strong regional model for other regions of New Zealand in establishing a connected network  of best ICT practice.   It  is readily available to provide support on a huge range of ICT issues that are confronting schools on an increasing basis. 

  • For individual schools it can tailor its support; 
  • It can provide technical support and act as a trusted broker for schools making purchasing decisions. 
  • Its website is an invaluable conduit of advice and communication between GCSN and the teaching community. 
  • A professional local team on the job is imperative. 

The vision of GCSN is to enable sustainable networked learning.  Schools need to be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for ICT development in their own environments.  This aspiration is still to being worked towards.

"Our involvement with GCSN has been a huge help to us this year. The seminars attended and visits by your team have provided excellent information and resources.

The GCSN website is really useful and the accessibility, knowledge and independence of the GCSN team is appreciated when trying to plan for the future and make important decisions.

We have used Derek’s strategic planning model for a review of ICT at Ōpāwa this year and we are in the process of developing an ICT strategic plan. This has been a really beneficial process for our staff and will set us up for ongoing annual development and review. It helped us to keep the learning at the forefront of our thinking and decision making.

Please convey my appreciation to the GCSN team for the fine work you are doing in supporting networked learning. "

Principal Opawa School

GCSN has noticed the following developments. 

  • Christchurch schools are now collaborating more on ICT planning and sharing ideas. Teachers are far more positve about using ICT.
  • Teachers actively seek assistance.
  • To an increasing extent, the world of ICT is less mysterious.   

GCSN understands there are significant risks to its goal of promoting  ICT solutions to enhance learning.  Appropriate infrastructures are vital for successful e-Learning. 

  • There is no progress on the SNUP programme. 
  • Many school wireless systems are inadequate. 
  • The fibre roll out process in Christchurch is painfully slow and threatens the successful implementation of N4L.
  • The renewal of Christchurch education results in unsettled school environments where necessary developments are impeded.  

The gaps between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ are widening as some schools are better placed to generate their own funds.  .

Schools need help to tender for their own technology.  Some have made expensive and wrong decisions about purchasing services and equipment. 

What are our next steps?

GCSN was specifically identified in the Ministry of Eduation’s website: Shaping Christchurch Education –Future directions . However, at this stage, the future of GSCN remains uncertain.  No comment is possible until it receives confirmation of funding levels in 2013.   


  • Karen Spencer

    This is a thorough and inspiring reflective summary, Geoff, and your team should be applauded. I particularly enjoy seeing the way the GCSN have continued to show a national lead in networked learning, even in the face of the on-going challenges in Christchurch. Thanks so much for sharing your story for the benefit of others:-)