Friday, 26 August 2016

Communities of Online Learning

"The Education (Update) Amendment Bill (the Bill) proposes to recognise the impact that technology is having on education, by introducing a new mode of education delivery – online learning. Technological change makes it possible for students to learn anywhere, anytime, and at any pace.
The Bill proposes to enable new partnerships between schools and online learning providers, and enable children and young people to access their education through online delivery. Online learning providers will come from the schooling, tertiary education, and private sectors, and will be able to seek accreditation as a Community of Online Learning (COOL).
The Bill proposes that COOL will have to meet criteria relating to their capability and capacity to deliver education to students in an online environment. Some COOL will be subject to additional terms and conditions, like which students they can enrol. All COOL will be subject to a robust quality assurance regime, including requirements to meet specified student outcomes."

Digital Technologies teachers have used online communities to assist with the development of learning for years. Mostly around web development and programming. Many through the list have talked about the positive aspects of students engagement and learning, conversations then lead to the development of teachers dashboards so teachers could monitor and assist students progress.

Looking at this, and the conversation through our own Community of Online Learning, NZACDITT. Doesn't this enhance what is already happening in our school through the use of Online Communities. Online Community being learning platforms like Codeavengers ( where the learning is prepared by teachers, delivered by teachers and who have also been developing assessments that can be carried out. If there has been a problem students have been able to email and seek help and guidance about a concept that they do not grasp.

Through the page talk about
  • Students learn the 'what' and 'why' with carefully sequenced lessons and gradual progression of difficulty. 
  • Our code challenges, quizzes, points, badges and bonus games make learning fun for all ages. 
  • Students build their own apps, games and websites as they learn. Seamlessly integrates into your school curriculum with any subject. 
  • You can easily identify students that need support thanks to live updates of each student's progress. 
  • With our lessons plans, supplementary notes, and assessment resources streamline your preparations; 
Codecademy ( has also developed the same, though not directly being part of the NZ landscape. There is curriculum that they follow, projects and learning through to a student developing a portfolio of evidence.

Also look at the evidence being provided by khan academy, being posted today in the subject association forum, about there new computer science course available online. We've partnered with Dartmouth college professors Tom Cormen and Devin Balkcom to teach introductory computer science algorithms, including searching, sorting, recursion, and graph theory. Learn with a combination of articles, visualizations, quizzes, and coding challenges.

It is interesting that when we start to unpack the comments over the years that these are being pushed as ways to assist with the development of the digital technologies curriculum at NZC Level 6-8.

We have many communities of online learning(not exactly called that back in 2005) in New Zealand, due to our geographic nature, Many of these have morphed and changed, but I still see opportunities, many of these were needed with the earthquakes happened in 2011 in Christchurch for students to be able to carry on learning while there schools were closed.

Currently there are 4 Offers on the Learning exchange to help support digital technologies throughout New Zealand.

We have a Virtual Learning Network in New Zealand,

One of these was created in 2005, called the Loop,
The driving force behind this extraordinary regional initiative is the collective belief that: The richer the information that is available digitally, and the more extensive the networks that connect people, the greater the benefits that will accrue.

I believe we have to wait to see what comes out of the Ministry and its development before making judgements. The more I see and hear what the ministry is working on links back to the Education 2025 strategy

Thursday, 18 August 2016

When things get tough

Why is it when things get tough you want to go home and be with family. While I love my job, the school and the students, other things are going wrong.

Two weeks ago I managed to have a rather good crash off my mountain bike a fall onto the hard track. By all accounts of the people I was with, I hit the ground hard. While on the ground I was thinking between winded breaths, oh no, not the shoulder, whats broken, and are the students ok. What is going to happen next, am I that injured, that I am going to have to stop. Turns out that when you stand up the world go rather bright, no broken bones, or nasty cuts, but a couple of ribs are not in a good state at present. Cracked is six weeks of rather interesting faces when laughing, coughing, or just a really deep breath.

Its also some of the other stuff, IEM's take a good amount of time to develop, comments for IEM, as well as progress reports. Just a large amount on an already large amount. School is good with this, great scaffolding for students as well as teachers. New semester, we are now in week 4. However this week we have also had added fun with 2 power outages, 8:10am on Wednesday saw the power out for 1 hour and fifty minutes, then today at 3:10pm the power goes out for another 1 hour and 20 minutes. Great being in the last 20 minutes of the school day.

I look forward to tomorrow, extended learning hub to work through with my year 11 students what their evidence for their IEM looks like, Year 9 was checked on Wednesday afternoon, it is great as their hub coach to go through and see how they have grown as a learner, what personal and academic excellence looks like for them.

Wednesday and Thursday next week are when the IEM are happening, half an hour with learners, whanau, I just hope my ribs and body can cope.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Moving digital technologies curriculum

In July 2009 the "body of knowledge" around technology was made available.

This document outlined the skills and knowledge that learners should develop and understand. The first time digital technologies was included in such a document. These help develop the knowledge and understanding that formed the achievement standards and indicators of progression. I often look at this document, surprisingly I have printed it off and put it in my nzc2007 book that is in my bag. I feared that it would be removed from the tiki website.
How many of the ideas in the digital technologies sections have been included in classes?

These ideas were nothing new in 2009, however they were new to teachers who were changing programs away from technology achievement standards that were not functional with the programmes of delivery at the time, mostly were based around Information management and aspects of digital media.

With the current strands of digital information and the aspect of teachers skills and time, it is not possible to teach all the strands in the qualification years. Is it surprising that there are programmes that are outside of schools.

The changing nature of education means that students have opportunities to gather learning from outside sources. Are we meeting the needs of our students? Think how many teachers are now tutoring students in ncea topics? This has been going on for years even before NCEA, is digital technologies now a part of the the possible failure of the education sector?

How are schools adaptive to change? Are outside organisations able to change their programmes more to cater for their learners? How could schools learn from these organisations?

We are about to go through a rapid and quick change that has already been signaled that education and industry will be involved with.

We need to be looking at new ideas, new models of teaching and learning, the ideas of assessments and what they are and how they are assessed, are we looking at the individual or looking at the ideas of industry around collaboration and team work. If digital technologies is to be taught in an integrated curriculum, who are we going to look at, develop inspiration from? Could this form part of the ERO visit in school (ERO will be sitting at the table in the forthcoming meetings)?

Challenging digital technologies through innovation and creativity should be top. Not just things on the side. We need to be moving away from assessments that look at mastery of a skill, looking at the ideas of integrating software and technologies needs to be forefront.

Looking at the education strategy for 2025 how are schools and learners best developing programmes of learning to cater for all students, not just the 33% that go to university and then the 39% that drop out after the first year. How are could we be developing the ideas of the future learner, one that has the potential to go through 8 possible careers through their lifetime.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Open evening

Developing an open evening evening straight after the big project showtime is something that we have never done before. How best to show the Makerspace and Technology Learning Area.

To show examples of learning of our students both in spins and modules.

I decided to do something different with the Digital Technologies concept. Putting out some of the technologies that we use as part of the classes. The questions were around probing both students and parents for answers. Which I must say was a particularly interesting aspect to watch over the evening, as students dragged parents back to the table so they could explain their answers. 

Having opportunities for these type of community events brings in a range of community. Perspective families, students, even our own students with grandparents. It provides the community with an opportunity to see what is happening inside the walls (we don't have a fence that goes around the entire school).

As for next years open evening? Here is hoping it brings out even more creativity and innovation.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Will the NZ digital technologies curriculum see success?

It seems to me thinking about the ideas of the new Digital technologies curriculum that there needs to be three areas that we need to have support from.
1. the teachers
2. Supportive school management
3. A supportive IT person

While the teacher is pretty obvious, and we have identified in the past what pressures will need to be developed and supported, I think we have the other two areas to work on.

School management, while many of us have supportive school management that have let us develop programmes and courses and pretty much stayed out the way. They have let the teacher run the program. Of course it is better to have support from senior leadership and I think about how lucky I am in my school for the principal to visit my classes when I am teaching with visitors from outside the school. When was the last time a member of senior management visited the class that was not for appraisal reasons, just out of a sense of interest in what is going on within the school?

But I feel the third one is going to be the biggest and hardest to get support around, I still find out that there are schools who are still blocking the right click on the mouse. It is also in the small school where the IT support person is also the teacher. This can work out fairly well but in a reality it could be putting strain on the teacher. It seems that IT issues take a lot of time away from teaching for the teachers. How is your school going to be thinking about he extra time that you will be required to teach if you do not have year 9 and 10 programs or even more junior? A lot may depend on how you yourself see the role?

The other part maybe the issues of having a person or outside organisation looking after the network. Many people have talked about the issues of fixing accounts that take weeks, printer issues that never seem to be fixed, or that damn wifi for students that never seems to work. Asking for software that for an education point of view is needed (python) yet the tech may not want to install as it is not a stable version and installs python version 2 not python 3. 

How will the ideas that are developed as part of the resources that are developed by the people tasked to create the resources going to be used within school, if particular software, services and technologies are developed for. I think of the number of people who still are not allowed a development web server on their internal network due to the "security risk".

Ultimately, teachers, school leadership and IT people have to work together for a single mission - providing the best digital technologies curriculum possible for the students, for this to really live up to its potential.