I’ve been travelling a bit as November comes to a close – visiting schools in Christchurch and Auckland, talking with teachers at the Digital Technologies Symposium, and meeting with e-learning advisers at the departments of education at the universities. The focus of these discussions has been on shifts in practice, transformation in schools and the implementation of the curriculum.
Some trends have emerged for me, and I’ve listed them below as a pick ‘n’ mix of reflections and observations (in no particular order). I’d be keen to get your thoughts – the things you’d ditch, add or tick on this list.
The New Zealand Curriculum has provided guidance on and reinforced the significance of e-learning by positioning it as part of effective pedagogy. (I do wonder if the paragraphs on e-learning could have referred to all six teacher actions that promote student learning, rather than just four of the six …).
The document has also provided a common language and approach to ‘teaching as inquiry’. An evidence-based approach is increasingly underpinning the use of ICT in the classroom.
The shift in focus from ICT to e-learning continues. ICT is most successful when embedded in the context of a learning area (… the definition of e-learning). Although disciplines drive e-learning practices (particularly in secondary school, where generic e-learning practices can be especially difficult to identify), technologies introduce their own requirements which teachers can address through deliberate teaching and scaffolding of learners.
The ways in which we as educators work and learn and live online are intimately connected with our capability to use e-learning effectively in the classroom. For teachers new to e-learning, adopting ICT as part of their own professional learning and practice can be a valuable starting point.
Social software (web 2.0) remains a focus. Innovative teachers are exploring the distinctions between socialising and collaborating, sharing and reflecting, and publishing and contributing constructively.
I’m excited (and exhausted, now that I’ve completed my presentation) to be at the Digital Technologies Symposium in Auckland. The symposium is on digital technology teaching and learning, with industry and tertiary organisations joining teachers from schools piloting the Digital Technologies Guidelines.
The DTG is a ‘planning environment’ for teachers to design and deliver programmes of work for years 11-13 that give context, coherence and relevance to its related areas of knowledge, with rich pathways including digital society, business technology, digital media, electronics, and software development and programming.
So, what’s being discussed? Tracy Bowker from Cognition Consulting (contracted by the Ministry to lead the project) spoke about the importance of relevance - teachers designing relevant courses that lead to assessment, rather than assessment driving courses – and also collaboration - within departments, across learning areas, between schools, and with tertiary and business – to support these relevant programmes of learning.
Her message about the need to communicate career opportunities to students was picked up by Janina Voigt from Canterbury University. Janina is a 21-year-old computer science graduate, embarking on post-graduate studies next year. She says computer science couldn’t have been further from her mind when she juggled science versus languages at the end of secondary school and went into journalsim becuase she could ‘see a job in it’.
To continue a theme in recent posts on culture and heritage, you may have noticed a smart new widget in the right-hand column of this blog.
To mark Armistice Day on 11 November, the Digital New Zealand project, led by the National Library, has released two new internet tools that connect New Zealanders with digital content about our country at the end of the First World War.
The widget on Lunch Box – the ‘Coming Home’ search widget – lets users search digital content held by a range of museums, galleries and archives (the widget aggregates metadata – the items themselves are still hosted by the individual content partners). It’s being tested by DigitalNZ’s content partners, and Lunch Box is stoked to be one of the test sites (see the list of other test websites).
Even better – you can embed this search widget in your school’s website, wiki, intranet or blog by grabbing the code from the DigitalNZ website. (If you can’t add the search widget to your site, then you can link directly to a hosted version of the search.) What I love about this is that DigitalNZ has recognised that providing services on their website is one thing, but letting users add the tools to their own spaces and places on the web is even better.
NZMuseums is another new website launched recently (back in September).
It’s a directory of 400 museums (with locations, opening hours etc) and it showcases the collections of 50 of these. NZMuseums also includes photos from 120 museums and thousands of objects of all collection types.
One of the site’s aims is to make accessible content previously unavailable on the Internet and to provide a web presence and electronic catalogue for many of our smaller, volunteer-run museums.
The site promises other things in time – events, virtual exhibitions and more collections. Good to see the museums sector thinking about catering to online visitors as well as physical ones. The attention generated by the live webcam footage of the dissection of a colossal squid at Te Papa has hopefully proved the value and reach of online audiences to our cultural institutions.
The NZ On Screen website is a joy. From Gloss to Kaikohe Demolition, Denis Glover to Dave Gibson, NZ On Screen is a cornucopia of New Zealand film and television and a critical archive of our national identity documented through the ages. It’s got clips, interviews and profiles, recognising both crew members as well as cast.
Launched last month, the website is a model of lovely design, set up perfectly for browsing and searching, with all the functionality you’d expect on a contemporary website (‘recently added’, ‘most viewed’ and options to suggest titles and add comments and tags).
Some of the content is covered by a Creative Commons license (‘Attribution Non-Commercial’) that lets you remix, tweak, and build on the content for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge NZ On Screen. Great to see Creative Commons getting an outing on such as influential (and government funded) website like this.
Check out the interview with Director Sima Urale, who discusses being a South Pacific filmmaker: from the immigrant experience in Aotearoa (O Tamaiti, Apron Strings) to dusky maidens in velvet paintings (Velvet Dreams).
Grab the RSS feed to stay up to date with new content added to the site.
Today, the Ministry of Education announced 10 e-Learning Teacher Fellowships for 2009.
The 2009 e-fellows will explore an aspect of their e-learning practice in literacy by conducting a short but in-depth classroom-based inquiry project. They will share their findings with the teaching community. Next years’ e-Fellows are:
Claire Amos, Auckland Girls’ Grammar School: Increasing engagement and achievement in formal writing through collaborating using wikis
Tia Fraser, Hira School, Nelson: Promoting deeper understanding through reflecting on video recordings of students’ dramatisations of a story text
Robyn Hurliman, Owhata School, Rotorua: Collaborative storytelling through translating the concept of literacy circles into blogging
Marion Lumley, Otaki College, Waikanae: Explanation writing through blogging with online mentors
Virginia Mitchell, Pekerau School, Ohaupo: Retelling stories using Voicethread and other web2.0 tools and sharing them with an audience
Helen Rennie-Younger, Sunnybrae Normal School, Auckland: Transferring students’ oral stories into multimedia presentations and sharing with an audience via the classroom blog
Deidre Senior, Oamaru Intermediate: More able readers support less able readers through blogging about texts to enhance comprehension
Marilyn Small, Manaia View School, Whangarei: Investigating the impact of an authentic audience on students’ engagement through producing content for a regional TV station
Sue Smith, Whangaparaoa College, Auckland: Using the interactive game Myst to engage reluctant writers in creative writing
Esmay Sutherland, Pine Hill School, Dunedin: Fostering students as authors by using animation to retell movie narratives