A class of students pull out their tablets and open the email from the teacher, the message contains a link to the digital worksheet the class will be using. The class start working on the sheet and the teacher urges them to be quiet - silence spreads across the classroom like a wave of ice and the teacher is satisfied that they are ‘busy, happy and good’, but what are they learning? At interval the students sit in the corridor in silence and leach from the school wifi and watch inappropriate downloaded films streaming onto their devices, until the bell rings to signal the next lesson where the teacher has an online lesson planned, but can’t connect to the network as there is a problem with the internet connection. There is no back up plan so the students spend the lesson on facebook making fun of the boy whose family can’t afford to buy the latest smartphone. Is this what technology in schools looks like in 2014? Is this how to create “confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners” (The New Zealand curriculum. 2007)
Many schools are adopting technology, especially since the Ministry of Education (2014) has invested $700 million dollars into providing UFB to all schools - as this will no-doubt ‘raise achievement’ (?). However many of these approaches to integrate technology are replicated models from schools that have been built from scratch and have solid foundations in the pedagogical shift which is required to maximise the potential of the tools available to enhance and engage learners, without this the imported models fall flat, and cause frustrations for parents who have invested in devices, teachers who can no longer teach effectively and most importantly students who are being robbed of their right to learn.
This learning portfolio is a snapshot of my learning this semester and my understanding of how we can implement a blended e-learning approach in New Zealand. It shows the work covered in an applied and authentic context, it related directly to the practices in my classroom.
Future-focused learning report. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry/EducationInitiatives/UFBInSchools/FutureFocusedLearning.aspx
The New Zealand curriculum. (2007). Wellington, N.Z.: Published for the Ministry of Education by Learning Media.
At it’s most fundamental level e-learning can be described as any learning that is supported or enhanced by an electronic device, but as this year developed and the issues and affordances involved with e-learning were unpacked, the notion of e-learning developed into a complex and diverse topic which covered most aspects of education ranging from assessment and curriculum, to equity, provision and the environments that learning can occur in. E-learning can support and enhance learning from distance, as well as open up large banks of resources which would have once been trapped away in libraries only accessible to academics. With this amplification in the openness of knowledge it unlocks many doors of opportunity for learning (Lane, 2012), but also questions the quality and provision of contemporary learning methods allowed by MOOCs and OER’s (Butcher, 2006).
However, e-learning does not change what it is to teach well (Nichols, 2008), the main goal of technology integration is to allow different approach to learning. With a pedagogical shift we can enable a more learner centric approach and increased student agency, potentially creating agile future focussed learners who continue to learn long after they have left educational institutions. It allows students to recognise that teaching and learning does not just have to occur within the confines of the classroom. When applied culturally in New Zealand, e-learning builds on the principles of Ako recognising that both teachers and learners bring interactions and reciprocal understanding, merging the relationship between teaching and learning.
Butcher, N. (2006). Making the Case for Open Educational Resources. A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER), 23–46.
Lane, A. (2012). Widening participation in higher education through open educational resources, 1–15. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-0300-4.ch001
Nichols, M. (2008). E-Learning in context. E-Primer Series, (1), 1–28. Retrieved from http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&btnG=Search&q=intitle:E-Learning+in+Context#6
I have been teaching since I graduated from Exeter University in England, I studied a BEd (Hons) degree in physical education and geography. My thesis was concerned with the use of technology in training teachers - since then I have been focussing on integrating the use of technology into the curriculum and other aspects of school life, with the aim of engaging and motivating students to becoming lifelong learners.
During my time in New Zealand I have been teaching in Gisborne schools for almost 10 years and I am presently employed as Head of Junior Physical Education and E-learning Co-ordinator at Gisborne Boys High School, a decile 3 school on the east coast of the North Island. I am aware that effective teaching is not only about the use of technology, but also how the technology supports teaching, learning, and building relationships. I am passionate about engaging students and whānau in a collaborative learning journey, and believe that the integration of technology and adapted pedagogies enable a greater depth of learning, understanding, and encouragement.
Through teaching PE and integrating technology effectively into this diverse subject area I am confident that I have the scope to assist others in implementing the tools we have available to engage the learners of today in a future focussed way.
Last year after completing my first e-learning papers I established FutureLearning.co.nz to provide an official channel to support future focussed professional learning in the Tairawhiti region, something that was lacking in this remote part of the country. I have worked with all local secondary schools as well as presenting to the Tairawhiti region principals association about navigating the ICT maze with my colleague Dr. Sandy Britain. I have also had the opportunity to support schools on a national scale and presented at summits and conferences across New Zealand. Through working with a wide range of schools I am cognisant of change management and aware of how professional learning needs to be structured in order to be successful.
Last year I found success in implementing e-learning, I am the only authorised Google Education Trainer in New Zealand (although there has been a new round selected and there may be a couple more as this is ‘published’), I was a finalist for the 'Interface Magazine most Innovative use of ICT' award and was selected for an e-learning fellowship with CORE Education. The e-fellowship programme recognises innovative and inspirational educators that are implementing change - my enquiry is specialising in learner agency, particularly in a traditional setting with the constraints of timetables and NCEA credits, aiming to foster agency to enable students to be self directed and motivated, this is a key area which supports many of the concepts proposed in contemporary e-learning pedagogy. I recently shared my findings in the research strand at ULearn, and plan to continue action research in this area.
Through persistence and plenty of defeats over the past 5 years I found my greatest satisfaction from finally convincing our Board of Trustees to invest in e-learning and managed to initiate change from the ‘bottom’ (being a teacher rather than in the SLT). I suggested they employed someone to support staff and liaise with community with regards to e-learning and we have started our journey towards being 1:1 school next year. I created a BYOD site to engage with community and gain valuable opinions from key stakeholders.
This will be the last piece of work I submit for this paper and have enjoyed the learning process over the year, but would not have made it this far on the journey without the support and conversations with my family and close friends. My wife and two young children have been extremely supportive and understanding of the dedication I have shown to this study and I acknowledge that, I have also appreciated the guidance and mentorship from Dr. John Fenaughty and Dr. Louise Taylor through the CORE Education eFellowship, as this has shaped many of my ideas in this learning portfolio, as have weekly meetings with my good friend and colleague Dr. Sandy Britain. My peers on the fellowship have also challenged my thinking, this has been invaluable on the journey, and our intense 'retreats' have been an opportunity to bounce ideas and thoughts around all of the areas covered in the study.
This process has invigorated my interest in educational reserach and I look to explore this further.
Students who successfully complete this paper will be able to:
1. Locate, select, evaluate and synthesise information related to E-learning theory and practice.
2. Demonstrate knowledge of the concepts and principles which underpin contemporary E-learning including links between E-learning and (a) distance education (b) open and flexible learning and (c) traditional place-based education.
3. Critically evaluate links between the general theoretical foundations of E-learning and situated notions of the practice of E-learning in context.
4. Contribute knowledge and expertise to a professional learning community through active participation in knowledge construction processes.
Below are the ways I interact with other professionals and develop a professional learning network to further my practice and understanding with regards to e-learning and education in general.