Virtual School Meanderings

September 20, 2009

The Journal of Distance Learning – Online Discussion

deanzTomorrow begins the first in a series of online discussions on the recent issue of the Journal of Distance Learning.  I mention this here in this forum because there are two articles in the issue focused on K-12 online learning: one by Rachel Roberts and mine own.

DEANZ is offering its members an opportunity to dialogue with the authors featured in the latest Journal of Distance Learning. Each week from 21 September through 26 October, one of the authors will be available to answer questions or issues relating to their publication. The schedule is as follows:

  • 21 September – Michael Barbour, “Today’s Student and Virtual Schooling: the Reality, the Challenge, the Promise…”
  • 28 September -Hamish Anderson, “Formative Assessment: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Online Quizzes in a Core Business Finance Course”.
  • 5 October -Chan Chi Wai, “The Quality of Distance Learning from an Economic Perspective: A Case from Hong Kong”.
  • 12 October – Gary Mersham, “Reflections on E-Learning from a Communication Perspective”.
  • 19 October -Terry Stewart et al, “Interactive Scenario Design: The Value of Flowcharts and Schemas in Developing Scenario-based Lessons for Online and Flexible Learning Contexts”.
  • 26 October – Rachel Roberts, “Video Conferencing in Distance Learning: A New Zealand Schools’ Perspective”.

Discussions will take place through forums available through the DEANZ Web site.

On the left hand side of the site you will find a login block.

Enter your username and password to login. A link to the forum will appear under the Members menu.

If you cannot remember (or do not know) your username and/or password please click the [Forgot Login?] link under the member login block and follow the instructions. In the event that this fails contact Carol Cooper-Taylor via the [Committee] link under the Main Menu, but please try to retrieve your login details yourself first.

Authors will prepare an introductory post for the start of the week, along with some possible questions for discussion. Please make the most of this opportunity to engage with the ideas raised in your journal. Discussions are limited to DEANZ members only.

Based on this description, I believe the discussions are only available to DEANZ members.  However, if you are interested in participating in the discussions I would contact someone at DEANZ to see if you are able to.

September 13, 2009

Article Notice: Video Conferencing In Distance Learning: A New Zealand Schools’ Perspective

journalcover2008smA while back I mentioned one K-12 online learning article in the recent issue of the Journal of Distance Learning (see DEANZ Notes), but I failed to mention the other one.

Roberts, R. (2009). Video conferencing in distance learning: A New Zealand schools’ perspective.  Journal of Distance Learning, 13(1), 91-107.

The description provided by editor, Mark Nichols is:

Finally, Rachel Roberts of Stratford High School summarises the development of video conferencing in New Zealand’s secondary school sector. Roberts gives insight into the rich availability and use of video conferencing, and she reveals the collaboration that is taking place across schools to make it all possible. Using synchronous video conferencing makes it easier to match teaching expertise with student needs across the country. However, synchronous video is not without its challenges, which range from operational to strategic. (p. 4)

Having just thumbed through it myself, I would recommend it as a nice overview of what is going on in New Zealand – and particularly the activities of the Virtual Learning Network.

September 8, 2009


This showed up in my inbox several days ago.  Please note that in relation to the discussions mentioned below on the articles in the latest issue of the Journal of Distance Learning, the discussion for my article will be held the week of 21 September 2009.  As a reminder, the details for this article are:

Barbour, M. K. (2009). Today’s student and virtual schooling: The reality, the challenges, the promise… Journal of Distance Learning, 13(1), 5-25.

The introduction reads:

“In 2008 I was approached to deliver a keynote address at the biennial conference of the Distance Education Association of New Zealand (DEANZ) in Wellington on the topic of today’s student and K–12 distance education. Several months ago, Mark Nichols asked me if I would be interested in putting some of the ideas that I discussed as a part of that August 2008 presentation into a manuscript for the Journal of Distance Learning. This paper represents my best efforts to summarise and expand on those ideas.

As in my 2008 keynote, I want to discuss three main themes in this paper. The first is to critically examine the common labels we assign to this generation of students and the characteristics these labels attribute to the youth we find in our schools, colleges, and universities. This examination includes the literature and research, (or lack thereof) to support these labels. The second is to trace the substantial history of distance education at the K–12 level. This history begins with the use of the correspondence model and continues with current online learning initiatives. The third and final purpose is to describe the virtual school movement, with a focus on developments in North America. This description also includes a discussion of how virtual schools have been organised and the nature of students served.”

So, join us for this and other discussions starting the week of 21 September 2009 – more on this later (as the date draws closer).

Hi DEANZ members

By the time you get these brief notes  from our last Exec meeting you will have already received the latest issue of the Journal of Distance Learning.

Under the Editorship of Mark Nichols the journal has undergone a total revamp. Apart from the immediate great impression created by smaller size and new cover design, the formatting and layout of articles has markedly improved readability. As an ex-Editor I wish I had Mark’s eye and sense of design. Congratulations to him and his technical editor, Kate Hunt.

Alongside the positive impact of the design, the articles in this latest issue provide some interesting and thought-provoking reading. I hope they will be thought-provoking enough for you to want to say something about what you read. You will have that opportunity, as you did with the previous issue, since Mark is once again organising discussions in which you can join with the article authors to examine and talk over their work. This is a great opportunity to join with other DEANZ members in sharing and creating ideas in support of good distance education practice.

The discussions  will be  accessible through the online forum capability that has recently been added to the DEANZ website. We have the tireless  Carol Cooper-Taylor, with support from Kathryn MacCallum,  to thank for that. In fact the forums are already accessible for members who log in once on the DEANZ website. Carol plans to provide instructions about using the forums in the next DEANZ newsletter.


August 9, 2009


This showed up in my inbox two or three days ago.  Note the Journal of Distance Learning information below.  You can find out more about the keynote in question in previous blog entries (see VHSM October Podcast Introduction, VHSM October Podcast, and DEANZ Keynote – Visually).


Hi DEANZ members

Our most recent DEANZ Exec meeting provided several snippets of news that will be of interest and value to you.

First, there is considerable progress in planning for the 2010 DEANZ Conference. We have already confirmed one (international) keynote speaker and are in contact with two others – one well known New Zealander and another from overseas. We want to confirm all three before announcing who they are, and will make a formal announcement about the keynotes and other aspects shortly. However, we want to tell you the date so that you can …..

Mark your diaries now!! April 25 – 28 is the time for the DEANZ conference in 2010. In the meantime keep your eye on the DEANZ website for further information.

The next issue of the Journal of Distance Learning is nearly ready for distribution. It’s a bumper issue with five good articles. In addition Michael Barbour has reworked his well-received keynote from the 2008 Conference and that is included along with several book reviews. You should be receiving this within a few weeks.

The DEANZ Webinars have been very popular. We want spread the net even wider and use webinars for members to share their great ideas and innovations and to talk over the excellent practices in distance education and e-learning that exists throughout New Zealand. We are working on developing a fuller programme – if you know of anyone (could be you) with sound ideas to share, let one of the Exec committee know….

… and to remind you who the Exec Committee members are …  The easiest way to find out is to go to the DEANZ website and click on ‘Committee ‘ in the menu on the left hand side …

or just click here

(or try

Finally, I can report that at last distance education has its own entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica. There’s been a Wikipedia entry since 2001, but the EB has been a bit slow in catching up. 2009 is the year it happened!


Bill Anderson


Dr Bill Anderson

The New Zealand Association for professionals working in Flexible, Open and Networked Learning


Director, Distance Learning
University of Otago
New Zealand

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