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Kids Rewired - Real Inquiry facilitated by elearning & Powerful PLD

Kids Rewired Highlights 2012 from r[E]wired on Vimeo.

Kids Rewired - Real Inquiry facilitated by elearning & Powerful PLD Inquiry


KIDS REWIRED  is a student led inquiry as well as an innovative Kids conference with a difference. It is a conference which is organised BY students FOR students.  Whilst this is not a unique thing in itself what this particular inquiry and conference did was: "embrace 21st century pedagogy head on, with the mantra of using elearning to open up new and different ways of learning in the 21st Century*  

In 2012 this conference also served the puporse of providing a context for some cluster wide teacher PLD (professional learning & development) based on the Teaching as Inquiry approach. The schools involved in this PLD were from the the Tauranga Moana ICTPD Cluster of Schools: Greerton Village School, Maungatapu School, Bethlehem School, Merivale School, Arataki School and Te Kura o Matapihi.

Whilst it was the learning which decided the destination it was the ICT tools and technology which helped Kids Rewired to become an incredible learning experience for both chldren and teachers. This particular cluster of schools were in a unique and advantageous situation as all schools used the same Managed Learning Environment: Ultranet. This meant that the level of readiness before beginning the learning was very high,  which in turn enabled the boundaries of learning with the ICT tools to be pushed further on on the continuum from old things / old ways and new things / old ways through to new things / new ways

To categorise this student and teacher learning inquiry on the ELPF (elearning planning framework),  the aim was to be working at the extending and empowering phase of this continuum where success is indicated by such things as ubiquitous, virtual and open use of technology and where learning can be catagorised as authentic, co-constructed and personalised and goes beyond the school community. 

This meant that throughout the whole process the ICT tools were the 21st century pencil and paper for communicating, collaborating, producing and creating. (by both the teachers and the students) The MLE, Ultranet, was the online platform which scaffolded not only the student lead inquriy but it was also the backdrop for organising the learning, connecting the learning, flipping the learning and sharing the learning, for the teachers and students across our cluster schools before, during and after the face to face conference.

For this particular PD/PL opportunity, the large investment in Ultranet and mobile technologies such as ipads and ipod touches across the cluster of schools meant that the whole ICTPD cluster as well as each individual school was able to capitalise strategically on policy, vision and strategy on all levels in their own individual school communities as well as the whole cluster community. 

The two different streams for the learning both unpacked the ideas of "What is powerful learning" and What is powerful to learn? applied to both classroom teaching and learning and professional development approaches

What is powerful to learn and what ispowerful learning with adults - andragogy

What is powerful to learnin and what is powerful learning with children - pedagogy


Providing opportunities for teachers from the cluster schools to participate in Goal oriented PD with a focus on achieving better outcomes, which incorporated “whole system improvements” was the goal.

Research published in various studies and in particular one by Micheal Fullen called  “Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform” inspired this inquiry sequence of PLD, which firmly placed the student and the learning at the centre.

A statement produced from this study iterates that "technology will be a dramatic accelerator if we can put instruction and skilled, motivated teachers and students in the lead”


Providing opportunities for children to lead their learning, negotiate the context for their learning and use ICT tools to enhance their learning outside of their own community, were the goals. 

NZC Effective Pedagogy & Elearning Pedagogy 

The NZC Achievement Objective for the student lead inquiry....how people make significant contributions to society;  the theme for the inquiry/ conference itself Plug In, upload, switch on; as well as the underpining whakatauki “a community can use all the skills of its people” added another layer of authenticity to the learning making it  more significant and real-life to all involved.


From a sustainabilty perspective the skills learned by both the teachers and students, processes used and blended learning classroom models developed as part of  Kids Rewired were able to be transferred directly back into each individual school environment as everyone returned to their own schools to share and celebrate in the learning.


Reflection Highlights from the Kids Rewired Learning Story by Shelley Blakey

(Shelley is the very tealented teacher who worked for 2 terms with her class of Y5/6 students from Greerton Village School) to bring the Kids Rewired Conference together. It was part of her Professional Learning Goal)

"Coaching as the centrepoint of my teaching as inquiry
More strategic planning and preparation had to happen - Sandy and Heather were my coaches and supported me through the highs and lows. Personally I had never organised a conference before, so it was my coaches who gave me the organisation structure – which I then had to transfer into learning experiences – that would actually get jobs done on time.  While still extending the children’s learning."

Developing ownership of the learning

"...so the kids went through the process of rebranding and made the conference their own – it was now called KIDS REWIRED – there was a lot of research that went into rebranding because the kids had to have a rational behind the new name.  (basically lets rewire kids to get them see that technology can be used for more than just play) The kids also had to come up with the theme for the 2012 conference – which was PLUG IN, UPLOAD, SWITCH ON… which is what the children wanted other children to do before, during and after the conference… and a link back to our AO a maori proverb sat behind the whole KIDS REWIRED conference…  E raka te maui, e raka te katau: A community can use the skills of its people.

My teaching as inquiry

This learning - teaching cycle was very collaborative, the children HAD to have real  part of the process and a real understanding of the outcome because they had to live and breath the results - whatever we came up with would drive what the conference looked, sounded and felt like - we had to create a brand that 6 other schools could immediately identify with. This was also  an opportunity for me to examine how children worked together, accepted others ideas - the key competency of relating to others - also how they were able to both come up with ideas, discount ideas, develop ideas, group ideas etc - they really had to be able to present succinct ideas with really good reasons for their ideas for theirs to  be noticed in a class of 31.- the key competency of thinking .
They also surveyed the public to get a broader view of what their ideas made others think of - for example one of their ideas ikids - made people think of apple products - they then discounted this for 2 reasons - copyright and our conference was not an apple event.

I think this is when the kids realised that what they were doing was not going to be easy - where they realised that quality takes time and that after looking at other  conferences that quality was important.

At the same time - natural leaders emerged in the class, I also recognized there were some who were checking out. So I needed to go back into teaching as inquiry cycle - what strategies could I use to 1, extend my leaders and give them opportunities to fly and 2. to engage those who were  interest.

Harnassing the potential of ICTS throughout the learning

This is where my professional learning through the ICTPD contract came to the fore. 
As the school was part of an ICTPD contract I knew that ICT had the potential to support 21st C teaching and learning and at GVS we had all the technology in place, Ultranet, Ipads, Laptops etc…as a school we also knew we wanted to move beyond ICT to supplement the more traditional ways of teaching and use ICT’s to support new and different ways of learning. SO I knew what I had at my finger tips and I knew why I should be harnessing it - but until now I had yet to move beyond surface integration of ICT in the classroom. THIS FOR ME WAS MY KEY PROFESSIONAL INQUIRY - I had limited knowledge But lots of resources - my knowledge and skills had to move to make the most of these resources.

AKO - reciprocal teaching and learning

The catalyst for me was a group of very capable boys who I could see had checked out... when I looked at the jobs that had to be done - I knew I would pushing them all the way with no real engagement which would then mean limited learning.  So I decided to use these boys as my guinea pigs into creating a virtual classroom in Ultranet, that was interactive and provided the boys some independence, but still had all the support structures they needed  to create a workshop using our newly purchased Beebots.  I literally sat down on a Sunday afternoon and learned how to put  all the things I would usually use, task cards, organisers and resources into this digital environment. I used the help desk in Ultranet and trailed and errored until I had a space for my boys for the next day.  

What I saw the next day when I gave the challenge to the boys to be a paperless group was amazing - they all of a sudden had a vital role in the conference - running the ONLY kids run workshop and they were the first to trial the virtual classroom - they felt valued, they saw the relevance and they were able to give me feedback about what worked and what needed work - we were collaborative partners.

Ultranet as a organisational and communication tool

My next challenge was logistics - I had 5 very different teams, with 5 very different jobs
the communication team - were the central team who communicated with Principals, lead  teachers, Sandy, sponsors and between the groups in the class.
the ICT team who needed to build our web site - they had very limited skills and basically had to  taught everything
the workshop team - as I mentioned before their job was to learn how to use the Beebots and run a workshop for teachers at the conference
the design team -who needed to create a logo, colour scheme and all the design elements involved in the conference
the media team - to capture our journey through video, photos and interviews, also to create all advertising for the conference

I was able to use our virtual classroom- which changed overnight – to a central communication information station – the most important driver for me was that the kids had to be able to learn and work without me always being there.

Ubiquitious use of elearning

I set up the virtual classroom so that all teams had their own space – each space had the groups daily tasks and links to the resources (most were electronic, but some were paper put in their physical team folder)  they would need to complete the task … it was the same system as we used with paper task cards previously BUT now they had access to them and the resources whenever they wanted – so if I was out and a reliever was in but a job still had to be done the children had the capabilities to do it. While I was away I could check their wiki and see if they had any questions.  

The fact was that if I had not made these changes, the learning throughout the conference would not have been as powerful and the actual conference would not have been as owned by the kids – because integrating  elearning gave the children and I opportunities to explore new learning environments eg. Reflection wikis – where the children could communicate with me even if I was with another group, or that others could contribute to – to help problem solve and having all the resources they needed when they needed it – 

Enhancing learning through the use of elearning

Throughout all of this the intrinsic motivation and engagement was evident – and I feel that main factor was that they kids were getting what they needed when they needed it – they weren’t learning just in case you need this – they were learning just in time – I need to know this now – please show me HOW!!!! I can’t do this because I don’t know how to do that… they were problem solving and thinking of their own pathways to make sure their team achieved what they had to. Because the children also knew that I was learning to – there was a real sense of collaboration, they saw me as a learner – they saw me go – hang on I’ll just email Sandy and ask or I don’t know shall we go and look up the “help” on Ultranet to try and find out… so it wasn’t long before they were telling me how I could solve my problems. This meant I created a supportive learning environment, encouraged reflective learning, we all saw the relevance and urgency of the learning, we facilaited new learning while making connections to our past learning and experiences (we often referred back to the GVS Technology Conference) and the learning opportunities that fell out of this process were huge – my initial concerns of how can I ensure they do reading and writing and maths everyday were truly redundant.

While my practice was changing - naturally the ways in which the children were learning were changing - they were learning through various mediums, me and experts, others peoples models eg using Sandys workshop that she ran at our GVS Conference, through help desks, through trial and error - we have lots of blooper interviews, from each other - every child learnt something that someone else didn’t so we created many experts in many areas - and all these were used naturally everyday. 

Whilst this was all happening, we had delegated components of conference organisation to other people....... for example the catering team ….....and the Cluster Facilitator mentored and worked with the teachers from our cluster schools

Click here to read the whole learning story about the student lead inquiry told by Shelley Blakey at Greerton Village school

Click here to read the learning story from the Cluster Facilitator to do with the PLD Inquiry

Click here to view the story on enabling elearning.