Virtual School Meanderings

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 http://edtalks.org/video/greater-christchurch-schools-network

Note that the video has also been posted on the Greater Christchurch Schools Network’s (GCSN) website at http://www.gcsn.school.nz/community/news/international-observations-gcsn.

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

February 22, 2012

Virtual Learning Network – Webinar

I saw this a few days ago at http://www.vln.school.nz/pg/blog/read/301891/virtual-learning-network-webinar.  So I’m posting a day or so in advance for my Kiwi colleagues.  In case any of my North American colleagues are wondering, if translates into 6:45pm on Thursday, 23 February.

Webinar: How to use Enabling e-Learning communities / VLN Groups

When: 24 Feb 2012

Venue: Blackboard Collaborate online tool

Fees: free:-)

Organiser: Karen Melhuish – Enabling e-Learning Community

Contact: enabling.elearning@tetoitupu.org

Just joined the VLN Groups and/or Enabling e-Learning? Feeling a little lost?

This is a short lunchtime session for anyone who is new to VLN Groups / Enabling e-Learning communities.

Date and time: 24 February, 12.45pm – 1.15pm.

Karen will explain:

  • how the VLN and Enabling e-Learning is organised – and how to organise it for yourself
  • how to present yourself professionally
  • managing your inbox
  • tips on making it work for your own learning
There will be some time for a few questions during this short session – and also afterwards, in the Enabling e-Learning: Professional Learning group. Register below…

December 12, 2011

EDTalks – Michael Barbour: New Zealand’s Virtual Learning Network

My colleagues down at CORE Education in New Zealand sent me a quick note to indicate that the first of my two EDTalks that I did with them have been posted.  So for the second bit of self-promotion for this Monday…

Michael Barbour: New Zealand’s Virtual Learning Network

Michael Barbour, Assistant Professor in Instructional Technology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, was recently in NZ researching the Virtual Learning Network (VLN). Michael describes specific examples, “pockets of innovation”, that offer glimpses into the future of NZ’s networked schools, and demonstrate how flexibility of scheduling opens opportunities to change the nature of schooling.

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