Virtual School Meanderings

August 25, 2016

VLN Primary School Statement – Communities Of Online Learning

A final item for my Kiwi readers (overnight for us here in North America)…

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VLN Primary School

VLN Primary School Statement – Communities Of Online Learning  by Rachel Whalley

VLN Primary Kids #connectedlearners
VLN Primary Kids #connectedlearners— Rachel Whalley

The Virtual Learning Network Primary School welcomes the news of the proposed regulatory framework for online learning in New Zealand. This mode of delivery is not new in New Zealand schools, however the educational policy that supports it, is definitely new. Read more
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Attribution-ShareAlike (by-sa)  Some rights reserved, VLN Primary School, 2016

Please note that I am a member of the Governance Group for this e-learning cluster.

August 1, 2016

VLN Primary School – August Update

One for my Kiwi readers…

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VLN Primary School logo

VLN Primary School

VLN Primary School – August Update

Game On
Game On, by federicoghedini (Pixabay)

The Perfect Game by Tim Morgan

Increasing participation in physical activity – a hauora based learning programme.  Read more

Kia ora koutou katoa

Naumai, haere mai ki te Kura Tuatahi – Akonga Aka Mariko.Welcome to the VLN Primary School

Our goal is to:

Connect Schools for Enhanced Learning Outcomes

In this newsletter we invite you and your students to participate in a number of exciting and innovative programmes and professional learning opportunities.

Through our collaborative schools network we are able to connect you and your students to some amazing professionals who have a huge depth of expertise and passion for what they do. Tim Morgan brings you NZ’s first online PE programme for primary students with the Perfect Game; Geoff Wood’s Filipino students host Asburton students with theirVirtual Merienda & invite others to join them; and we introduce ourfantástico Spanish teacher Eva Anton.

Thank you to all the amazing people in our schools, who truly get what it means to collaborate beyond their own school gate for the benefits of all our children in NZ. If you think you ‘get it’ too, are future focused and want to share collaborative practice, then get in touch with us we can help make those connections.

In this edition we also give you a heads up on PLD for teachers ‘How do i teach Computer Science?’ provided by Trevor Storr from Core Education – don’t delay in registering for this, it starts this week, and places are filling up. Michelle & Rebecca are looking for teachers to trial their Primary Industry resources.

Finally join us in a webinar to explore Hail. Hail is behind our online communications, and is giving us a digital footprint that helps us tell our stories, in a way that can extend our reach, is easy to use and looks great.

Kia pai tō wiki  Have a good week

Ngā mihi nui

Rachel

Rosmini College - Virtual Merienda

Virtual Merienda

Filipino students connecting across the country – your students are invited too! Read more

Eva - Our Amazing Spanish Teacher

Say ¡Si Si! to Spanish!

Join our fantástico eteacher Eva for Spanish classes online. Read more

CTRL

What is computer science and how do I teach it?

Our friends and Core Education have picked up on the challenge of Digital Technologies in the NZ Curriculum, with this PLD free to teachers. Read more

On the Farm

Teacher Resources – Primary Industries

Do you have an interest in biosecurity, animal welfare and/or food safety? Read more

Hail - Create Once - Publish Everywhere!

Join An Upcoming Webinar with our friends at Hail

And explore how you can step up and streamline the management and quality of your schools’ online communications through using Hail content publishing platform. Read more

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Copyright © VLN Primary School, 2016

Please note that I am a member of the Governance Group for this e-learning cluster.

July 13, 2016

VLN Primary School – July Update

One for my Kiwi readers…

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VLN Primary School logo

VLN Primary School

VLN Primary School – July Update


By Ginette Van Praag

Recognition for Leading Online Learning by Ginette Van Praag

We are thrilled by the news and wanted to share with you that we are finalists in the 2016 Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards, Diversity and Digital Skills Category! Read more

Kia ora koutou katoa

Naumai, haere mai ki te Kura Tuatahi – Akonga Aka Mariko.Welcome to the VLN Primary School

Our goal is to:

Connect Schools for Enhanced Learning Outcomes

In this newsletter we are thrilled to announce the VLN Primary is a finalist in the Australia/NZ Internet award, this is awesome recognition of the work we do across NZ schools.

We encourage schools to register and participate in online classes running in Term 3 & 4. There is no cost to participate in our Asian Languages as our schools are lucky to have a MoE contract that supports this. Now is a really good time to try out learning Mandarin and Japanese. Great PLD for teachers too in learning languages and digital capabilities. Give it a go!

Geoff shares the benefits to his students and ours, of tuakana/teina learning relationships online through the Over the Back Fence Project. Find out more about the possibilities and how to participate. We hear about a new game app, Shark in the Park, designed to get kids out and active. Melanie would love to hear from teachers who are wanting to trial this with their children.

We highlight some free PLD designed to bring you up to speed with the basics of using Google Apps for Education and we say Hooray! for our new system ZOOM! A great cloud based web-conferencing solution that is helping our eteachers and students make their learning connections.

Ngā mihi nui

Rachel

Learning Chinese Online

Enrolments Open for Semester 2 Online Programmes

Do you want your students to be #connectedlearners, lead their own learning and build key competencies?  Do you want to share in the expertise of a growing collaborative network of schools?  Are you looking to extend the walls of your classroom and work with other like minded schools?  Read more

Rosmini College - Over the Back Fence

Tuakana /Teina – Student led learning

Older students teaching younger students. Geoff Wood talks about the benefits for our students – young & old alike. Read more

Sharks in the Park 

Mobile Outdoor Gaming – Getting Kids Off the Couch

There is a certain Internet craze going off at the moment that shows how gamification, augmented reality and geospatial technology are a winning formula for motivating kids to get up and move. If you just said WHAT?? to that last sentence read on… Read more

Zoom 

Zoom

We have just made the switch to using Zoom for all our online classes…….and we are loving it! Read more

Google Educator Certification & Training

With more schools becoming Google Apps for Education (GAFE) schools, how are you preparing your teachers to be confident and make the most of these tools? A great way to evaluate your current skills and confidence with Google Apps for Education is to train for accreditation.  Read more

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Copyright © VLN Primary School, 2016

Please note that I am a member of the Governance Group for this e-learning cluster.

June 14, 2016

Enrolments Now Open for Semester 2 Online Programmes

One for my Kiwi readers…

Email not displaying nicely? View the full article.

VLN Primary School logo

VLN Primary School

Enrolments Now Open for Semester 2 Online Programmes by Ginette Van Praag

Learning Chinese Online
Learning Chinese Online— Rachel Whalley

Do you want your students to be #connectedlearners, lead their own learning and build key competencies?  Do you want to share in the expertise of a growing collaborative network of schools?  Are you looking to extend the walls of your classroom and work with other like minded schools?  Read more
Go to the homepage Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter

Copyright © VLN Primary School, 2016

Please note that I am a member of the Governance Group for this e-learning cluster.

May 30, 2016

Cross-Posting: Guest Blogger – AIMS E-learning Criticisms Should Fall On Skeptical Ears

This is a guest post by Grant Frost, a teacher from Nova Scotia who blogs from frostededucation.  He contacted me about this topic, as he wanted to write a response and was following up on a comment I had left somewhere.  I want to thank Mr. Frost for allowing me to cross-post these comments.  If you have any feedback for Mr. Frost, please visit this entry, OPINION: Yet another AIMS misfire on e-learning in Nova Scotia schools, or the entry on his own blog at AIMS E-learning Criticisms Should Fall On Skeptical Ears (as such, comments are closed at this space).

Well, another May long weekend has come and gone, and for me the date marks an emergence of sorts. Over the past month I have run in an election, taken a group of students to the annual Nova Scotia Dramafest, and have wrapped up yet another high school musical. And in all the hustle and bustle, I almost missed that oh-so-predictable and oh-so-Nova Scotian sign of spring.

And, no, I don’t mean the crocuses.

I am talking, of course, about the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies’ (AIMS) annual attempt to undermine public confidence in our education system and promote the idea of a privatized system.

And even for AIMS, the 2016 installment is a doozy.

Around the middle of May, the organization released a report penned by their local favourite, Paul W. Bennett, on the state of electronic learning in the Atlantic Provinces. The report, entitled E-Learning in K-12 Schools: The Prospects for Disruptive Education relied heavily on the work of E-learning expert Dr. Michael K. Barbour, and was, not surprisingly for AIMS, full of criticisms of how our system is falling behind in offering true E-learning opportunities for our children.

The report was also, not surprisingly for AIMS, a huge load of hooey.

Now, I know what you are thinking. This is not the first time I have been critical of AIMS or of Mr. Bennett, and I admit that, even to myself, I am starting to sound a bit like a broken record. And I truly was too busy at the time to pay much attention to an institution seemingly obsessed with the privatization of public education. Even when Bennett was granted yet another round of interviews on the document, (goodness gracious, will the media ever learn?) and criticized the public education system with such gems as “Gone are the days you could babble on in brick and mortar classrooms”, I was almost content to let the issue go.

Almost. But not quite.

You see, many of the teachers that I know are indeed working very hard to incorporate technology in the classroom, contrary to the report’s claims that us East Coasters “have been slow off the mark to seize e-learning’s potential to promote higher levels of student engagement“. I have actually  written elsewhere about how cautiously excited teachers are to be accessing these new trends. (In fact, in his report, Mr. Bennett used me as a reference, which, considering our history in that matter, has a certain ring of novelty to it.) So the suggestion that somehow our system was encouraging “babbling on at the front of the room” as sound pedagogy rather stuck in my craw.

I was not the only one upset by this suggestion. A news release issued by the NSTU a few days after the AIMS report also took exception to the suggestion that Nova Scotia has been slow to embrace technology as an educational tool. (The AIMS report had also suggested that an article in the Teacher’s Provincial Agreement, created in partnership with the then DOE to help teachers support E-learning, was a hindrance to implementation.)

So, stuck craw and all, I started to do a bit of digging, and, as always, more information was not that hard to find.

Turns out, this is not the first time that Mr. Bennett has written a report on the state of E-learning, nor is it the first time that his conclusions on the subject have been questioned. Back in 2012, writing for a group called “The Society for Quality Education” (which in very AIMS like fashion supports the idea of charter schools), Bennett penned a report entitled  The sky has limits: Online learning in Canadian K-12 education. In an article in the Globe and Mail at the time, Bennett claimed that, as a nation, we were losing ground on the E-learning front. (He pointed the finger at union contracts as a major hurdle standing in the way of progress then, as well.)

In that report, Bennett relied again quite heavily on Dr. Michael K. Barbour. Dr. Barbour is, in fact, one of North America’s leading experts on E-learning, and when Barbour read “The sky has limits” he was, to put it mildly, unimpressed. So too was Dr. Geoff Roulet of Queen’s University, both of whom considered Bennett’s view unnecessarily slanted, and in some instances, guilty of drawing conclusions not supported by evidence.

The similarities between the 2012 report and this latest offering are hard to ignore, and, in my humble opinion, E-Learning in K-12 Schools is not much more than a re-packaging of The Sky has Limits.  The new report offers no new evidence to suggest students in the Atlantic Provinces are actually falling behind in E-learning, and again, much like in 2012, this report opens itself up to several fairly obvious criticisms.

As one example, the AIMS report states that “…in the 2013-14 school year, some 332,000 Canadian students were enrolled in one or more distance education courses — 6.2 percent of the total 5.3 million K-12 student population…That number is dwarfed by the figure in the United States, where… the number of students accessing online learning doubled from 2 million to 4 million from 2010 to 2011, to some 5.3 million in 2014″

Well, the numbers have increased, that’s for sure, but the researchers cited in this instance are actually talking about enrollment in US higher education courses, not specifically about K-12. More accepted numbers have E-learning participation rates in K-12 in the US at around 3% – 4%, so Canada is actually doing better than our southern neighbours.

When it comes to the number of Nova Scotia students involved in online courses, the AIMs information is again rather skewed. The report is critical that Nova Scotia only has 2.2% of its students enrolled in distance education courses, well below the National average of 6.2%. However, if you allow for Blended Learning, where students are accessing technology with the guidance of a teacher, that number grows almost exponentially. In fact, according to a report by Dr. Micheal Barbour himself, written for The Canadian eLearning network, there are approximately 54,000 active Google education accounts currently in the province, and somewhere in the vicinity of 27,500 teachers and students are actively using the new Google Apps for Education System (GAFE) in the classroom. Taken together with the distance education numbers, that means close to 30,000 of our approximately 119,000 public school students are engaged, at some level at least, in online learning.

It is hard to see how the numbers like that indicate to anyone that Nova Scotia is stuck in “brick and mortar” teaching.

The real kicker for me came when, within the report, AIMS itself actually recognized the value of using Blended Learning as the preferred model of technological integration. The report states quite clearly that “Blended learning …is proving far superior to online learning programs that are self-paced with little or no teacher-mediated interactions…”  and it trumpets these models for their ability to engage students and enhance learning.

So let’s review. The Nova Scotia Education System is being criticized by AIMS for falling behind in E-learning. This even though perhaps as many as a quarter of our students are somehow engaged in blended learning in their regular classrooms, which AIMS itself recognizes as the superior E-learning model. This criticism is presented in a report written by someone whose conclusions on the subject have been questioned by an internationally recognized expert in the field who is, not insignificantly, the same expert who actually did the research the report is based upon.

Told you this one was a doozy.

Producing policy papers of questionable repute is certainly nothing new for AIMS. Neither is refusing to acknowledge criticisms of those papers, even when they are offered by legitimate experts in the field. However, it is an irrefutable fact that Nova Scotia schools are using all sorts of blended approaches to E-learning in ways that serve students. It is also an irrefutable fact that many of these approaches are being driven by classroom teachers who are utilizing technology in ever new and exciting ways to promote higher levels of student engagement.

Everyone, is aware of this, it seems. Except for AIMS.

And, apparently, their local favourite, who, when it comes to E-learning, comes across very much like a man trying to walk on stilts amongst giants.

This is a guest post by Grant Frost, who blogs from frostededucation I want to thank Mr Frost for his comments.  If you have any feedback for Mr. Frost, please visit this entry, OPINION: Yet another AIMS misfire on e-learning in Nova Scotia schools, or the entry on his own blog at AIMS E-learning Criticisms Should Fall On Skeptical Ears (as such, comments are closed at this space).  As is the practice here at Virtual School Meanderings, this guest post will be the only blog entry posted today.

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