Week 3: Preparing the Regional Cluster

Last week was important in that it was the first face to face Principal meeting for the year.  I wasn’t able to attend unfortunately, but I will look through the minutes with some interest.

It was also a week where we were finally able to turn our attention to the Southern Regional Divide Regional Cluster.  2011 is the second year in a three year Ministry contract and it really is a vital year.  We made huge strides with the teachers last year, but we now have to ask ourselves “so what?”  In the past this has been called the “Blended Learning Project”, and that’s what it was really – taking a large group of teachers with the purpose of developing expertise in blending online with face to face.  It makes perfect sense for two clusters who run a a programme of online courses and are part of the Virtual Learning Network, to begin to investigate how this can change face to face practice.  The dominance of VC as a way of delivering curriculum is evident in the fact it hasn’t yet had any real impact on the practice of teachers in our clusters at all.  With our VC courses now becoming more like fully online courses we are able to look at how the practice of online teaching can improve the lot of all students.  I like Derek Wenmoth’s  recent post on the recent rise of blended learning and how it could provide a positive ‘disruptive’ influence on schools or merely reinforce traditional teaching practice.  For us this is not about upskilling teachers.  It is about changing our approach to learning and challenging existing school structures.  For it to happen cluster wide it requires school leadership to take ownership of the project and drive change within their own schools and the cluster. So far it has been myself, Trevor (and lets face it, it was his original vision) and Niki Davis, driving it and that was fine for the first year.

This is no longer a ‘project’ though.  We now need a  regional cluster whose member schools work together to develop online learning as a means for greater personalisation of learning for all students.  This means far more than just VC courses and it needs to be sustained beyond the next two years.

For all this to happen it takes leadership and not just from myself, Trevor, Niki and Pete, but from the principals as well.  And let’s not forget the group of teachers who gave it all in 2010.  They are key leaders in this as well, but they need the support of their school to do it.

I have embedded the goals for this year and as you can see the focus has changed considerably.  We have attempted to widen the focus to hook a few more schools in, but to also move it away from being a ‘project’.

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Comments

  1. professornikidavis says:

    Good vision and way forward Darren – I agree that we need leadership at multiple levels and everyone in our BLP, oops regional cluster community, has a role to play in that shared leadership.

    And I like way you have blended your Blog with our course in VLN Moodle, so that our core community can share this with others that they lead and support.

    Niki
    Shaking in Christchurch, but not stirring 😉

    • Thanks for that Niki. I had a discussion with someone a week or so ago who referred to what we are doing as a project – inferring that once the three years were up that was it. That is what we don’t want to happen, so I am changing how I reference it!

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