Blended Learning Project (Summary)

Term One:

The project kicked off with four days face to face PD at the University of Canterbury.  This was run by the three ePrincipals and featured keynote speakers, Wayne Mackintosh (Wikieducator) and Derek Wenmouth (Core-Ed).  Much of the first day was spent introducing the concepts of blended and personalised learning.  The remaining three days featured a mix of practical workshops where teachers were introduced to some key online tools (Moodle Mahara, Google Apps), reflection and keynotes.  While very challenging for all involved, this PD was successful in setting up the project and readying teachers for the next steps.

The rest of term focused on building the online community through Niki Davis’ UC course and practical workshops through after school video conferences.

Term Two:

Much of term two focused on the teachers conducting an institutional review of their schools.  This was the first formal assessment for the course and required teachers to review their school’s readiness for blended learning.  Most teachers used a mix of interviews and surveys to gather their data.  Continued support for teachers was given online and through face to face contact with an ePrincipal.

July Professional Development

We had two days face to face PD with all teachers at the University of Canterbury.  This was a good chance for teachers to continue to develop a learning community and get some face to face support from other teachers and the ePs (including Niki).  The approach we took was flexible and gave teachers plenty of time to actively work on their online module or share with other teachers.

Term 3 (so far)

The focus for term three has been in developing ongoing threads of discussion based on professional readings (through the UC course).  The teachers have been divided up into groups and take turns facilitating the discussion online in Educo using forums.  These have been running for five weeks and have had active participation from the vast majority of teachers.

Progress

In general terms the project has been going very well.  There have been a few challenges (see below), but the majority of teachers have made considerable progress in a short time.  Collaboration between teachers has already started happening and the group has built a real sense of community.  An online community of practice is now being established.  Milestone reporting has been completed and approved.

Challenges

  • Teachers have found the extra workload difficult to manage
  • A small number have struggled with the concept of blended learning or at least how to implement it in the classroom
  • There is wide range of ability and experience with technology amongst the group which means catering to many different needs
  • Access to adequate resourcing within their school has been an issue for some.
  • An initial (and continuing) steep learning curve in being an effective online student (for the teachers)
  • Some teething problems with the design and organisation of the UC course
  • A small number of teachers have really dropped off and are not engaging in the project.  A couple have withdrawn.

To Consider

  • How do we ensure that the expertise of participating teachers is shared within schools?
  • How do we engage principals to ensure that a region-wide learning community is formed?
  • How do we promote collaboration between teachers in different schools?
  • How do we manage transition of participants when a teacher leaves the project?
  • How does the proposed Cantatech/Aorakinet/(and possibly WestNet) merger influence the sustainability of the SCD project?
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