Virtual School Meanderings

September 10, 2012

VLN: Learning Without Limits Webinar

This item may be of interest to my Kiwi readers (and came across my electronic desk from several sources)…

Howard Baldwin from the Ministry of Education has offered to run a follow-up VC/Webinar session to their Learning Without Limits Seminar series on Tuesday 18th September 10 am. If you missed the face to face sessions or need further clarification this would be a great opportunity to participate. This would be something that would be worthwhile for Board of Trustees members to participate in also. These sessions will only run if there is interest from schools. Find out more and register your interest.

Thanks to Rachel as the most common contributor of this item!

June 26, 2012

EDTECH597 – Links Entry: Distance Education in New Zealand Schools Sector

Yesterday, in my EDTECH597 – Week 4 entry I indicated that today I would post a links entry to model for my Boise State students. I described a links entry as an entry “that provided a list of links. They can be thematic in nature or they can be a random set of links that are published every so often or at specific times. Some bloggers have even set-up their Delicious or Diigo accounts to summarize all of their links for the past week in an entry on their blog.”

Over the past few months, I have continued my involvement with K-12 distance education programs located in New Zealand.  For long-time readers you’ll recall that I have been to the country several times now to do research and speak to various groups involved in the field in that part of the world (including a ten week sabbatical trip down there last Winter).  For this links entry, I wanted to highlight some of the resources available for those interested in K-12 distance education in New Zealand (please note that e-learning in New Zealand is best translated to technology integration or information communication technologies in North American parlance).

Tomorrow’s entry will be a list entry.

April 23, 2012

Professor Michael Barbour examines the development of primary and secondary online learning clusters in New Zealand. Tuesday, April 24 at 12:30 PM in 2339 FAB

If you are in the Detroit area tomorrow…

April 2, 2012

Virtual Learning Network-Community (VLN-C) Annual General Meeting

This morning I had the pleasure of sitting in on the Virtual Learning Network-Community‘s (VLN-C) annual general meeting.  For those who don’t know, the VLN-C is a charitable trust that was created as an official mechanism to encourage collaboration and cooperation between the individual Virtual Learning Network e-learning clusters.

The annual general meeting went down like most annual general meetings would.  It began with an acceptance of the meetings from the previous annual general meeting.  This was followed by a report from the Chair and then the Treasurer, along with a report on the services that the VLN-C, the Ministry, and other digital learning programmes.  There were some amendments to the constitution, along with a discussion of other constitution amendments that would need to be considered for the constitution to evolve as the trust evolves.  The election also included the election of three new members of the council, who were added to the existing four council members (so the council has a total of 7 members).

The trust is actually composed of members from the individual e-learning clusters, or more specifically the schools that participate in each of the clusters.  At present there are 124 schools that have a membership in the trust, mainly represented at the AGM by the leadership of the cluster.

Following the elections, there was a discussion of the business plan for the VLN-C.  The trust commissioned Derek Wenmoth to create a business case for the VLN-C.  While that document was submitted to the VLN-C, in some instances it threw the ball back into the court of the VLN-C to be able to refine some of their own activities and directions.  This session was an overview of the first draft of the next step in that process.  It was an interesting discussion, as the virtual learning system in New Zealand continues to mature and really to expand beyond its initial rural, secondary roots.

After lunch, the Minister of Education came for 30 minutes to speak to the group.  After a quick overview presentation, a question and answer session began (with prepared questions that had been shared in advance – at least that was my understanding).  It was interesting because in response to the first question she blamed unions as a barrier to change here in New Zealand (even though the PPTA has actually been quite supportive of e-learning in the country, I’d argue even moreso than the Government in many instances).  In response to another question she focused on the generational differences of today’s students, and how this generation of students were digital natives and that we needed to reform the education system to cater to these new ways of learning (and longtime readers of this space will know the problems with the generational differences literature, and the total lack of research support for Prensky’s digital natives-digital immigrants).  She did talk a lot about the problems of funding schools by student enrolments, and with the nature of tomorrow’s schools here in New Zealand underscores those challenges even more.  She also talked a lot about student performance, and making decisions based on the ability to improve student performance (granted, the Government’s – and this Minister’s – support of charter schools indicates that, like many legislators in the United States, they are more interested in ideological change instead of research-based and data-driven decision making).

That was about it for her 30 minutes.  Then it was my turn to present the work that I did last year with the Virtual Learning Network clusters, which included a brief discussion of the session and the day in general.

March 28, 2012

EDTalks – Michael Barbour: The Greater Christchurch Schools Network

A while back I posted EDTalks – Michael Barbour: New Zealand’s Virtual Learning Network, and in the past 24-48 hours it appears that the third video that I recorded for the CORE Education video series EDTalks has now been posted.

Click on the image or visit

Note that the video has also been posted on the Greater Christchurch Schools Network’s (GCSN) website at

While you are visiting the EDTalks site, let me also recommend the video” Liz Stevenson: A community approach to eLearning with kura”

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