I wanted to post this information today, so that I could inform my readers that everything over the next two or three days will be entries that have already been loaded into the queue. Essentially, everything I have received over the past day or two is slated for release between now and Thursday because I will be traveling to New Zealand.
As many of you know, I have been on sabbatical this semester and one of the projects I have been planning for some time is to visit and do some work with the Virtual Learning Network in New Zealand. Over the next ten weeks I will be in various locations throughout New Zealand, working with Derek Wenmoth of CORE Education and Niki Davis of the University of Canterbury (and President of the Distance Education Association of New Zealand). The actual project I will be working on, as described by the formal proposal submitted by CORE and DEANZ, is:
The purpose of this research is to capture, in a range of ways, information that will contribute to the knowledge base about the development of virtual schooling in New Zealand, in particular, how the Learning Communities Online handbook is being used to assist and inform this development.
The focus of the project will be to:
(a) provide understandings of how schools involved are collaborating, and the impact and contribution of the LCO handbook to their development and success;
(b) to capture a series of case studies to help illustrate aspects of the LCO handbook guidelines, and to provide examples of effective practice.
For those unfamiliar with the Virtual Learning Network and K-12 online learning in New Zealand, here is some information from the background portion of the proposal:
Beginning with the CANTAtech project in 1994, there has been a steady development of virtual learning in NZ schools, predominantly in regional and rural settings, as a means of providing access to curriculum. In 2002 the first cluster linking via video conferencing began, and in 2003 the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) was established as a collaboration between the various clusters that had been developing independently through the country. The primary focus of the VLN was to provide a brokerage service for the sharing of courses and programmes between clusters.
In 2004 the initial version of a handbook to assist schools in forming virtual learning clusters was published with support from the Ministry of Education. Called “Learning Communities Online: A handbook for schools”, this publication contained a matrix to guide development through the phases from initial conception to implementation.
The number of clusters and participating schools has grown significantly. In addition, schools in urban areas have begun to explore opportunities for collaborative activity and the sharing of curriculum and resources through being linked to Ultra Fast Broadband.
During 2010 the LCO handbook has been extensively revised, with an additional dimension added to the matrix addressing issues of sustainability and maturity. This handbook will be released in final version for use by schools and clusters in 2011. The Ministry of Education have an interest in finding out how useful this guide is, and what further supports may be required for schools as they venture into the virtual learning world.
I guess this is my way of both announcing this new research project and informing my readers of what will seem like some irregular blogging habits over the next ten weeks. By irregular I mean that there may be times when this blog is silent (which is not the norm for me, but there may be times when I simply don’t have Internet access) or I may be posting things at odd hours (New Zealand is 17 hours ahead). Either way, I’ll do my best to continue to maintain this space in the manner that you’ve become used to. In the meantime, I’ll catch you all sometime on Thursday (which I guess will still be Wednesday night here in North America).