News: Up and going in 2012

Well here we are already three weeks into the first term and I’m finally feeling like I have my head above water.  While there a few minor changes still going on in enrolments, most courses are settled and well under way.  The three weeks prior to this were just plain mad, which actually seems to be the norm in schools these days and certainly is for this job at this time of year.  Enrolments really dominated and while we run a devolved (schools do enrolments rather then me) approach to this, there were so many problems with the VLN site, that I became a permanent help desk.  If it wasn’t problems with the site, it was overseeing and tracking where enrolments were going, who was being accepted where and what the best course options were.  I’m sure as the site settles down (and it is must next year) and schools get better and better at the process, my role will change and my time will be better spent supporting the eTeachers and students.

We have around 250 enrolments this year, which is about 30 more from last year.  We also have two new schools though so uptake would seem similar to 2011, but there has been one major challenge this year which shows this isn’t quite accurate.  In the past we have found courses for almost all students and I certainly would only have a very few missing out.  This year many students failed to get into courses and many of our own courses are well beyond capacity.  It is very difficult to put a number on how many of our students got turned away, but it is well beyond wht I have experienced before.

So it seems there aren’t enough courses around to meet demand, or at least enough of the right courses.  And this is the problem – a few of our courses have low numbers and one didn’t fill up at all.  This raises the issues of how important an accurate needs analysis is, but also shows how schools deciding on what course they will offer can backfire.  In the end it is a process of negotiation.  Some schools have little choice.  They have a small staff and there might be only one teacher who is willing to take a VC course on.  Which is a little sad really, because it is an enriching and rewarding experience.

Perhaps we need to really lift the profile of this with staff around our schools.  Why shouldnt this be an integrated and normal aspect of day to schooling?  Staff should be expected to be ready to take learning online and I’m sure the continued ‘blending’ of learning will develop greater capacity amongst teachers (and students for that matter) in this environment.  There is absolutely no doubt that online learning will have a significant impact on schooling in this country.  It creates a tremendous amount of flexibility and is a ‘disruptive’ innovation that will bring about change whether we like it or not.

So teachers…why not hop on for the ride now, rather than later?

Oh and now we are through enrolments what I have I got on my list on todos?  Hmmm…well: Development of a memorandum of agreement for schools to sign, update eManual, Get Teacher Dashboard up and going, Complete variation planning for the blended learning project, Develop BLAZE student survey, NCEA analysis, Strategic planning for 2012, Plan budget for 2012, Develop Cantanet staffroom area and so on and so forth.

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