Virtual School Meanderings

September 30, 2015

Your Newsletter For The Ethos Community – September 2015

Another one for my Kiwi readers, this time from yesterday’s inbox…

A newsletter from the Ethos Online Community – September 2015


Kia ora, talofa lava, and greetings,

Spring in Aoteroa New Zealand showed itself briefly with a couple of warm days, and wall-to-wall daffodils. However, we seem to be back with rain and chilly winds. Ah well – there’s been plenty to keep us warm in the way of ‘hot topics’! (Sorry – couldn’t resist.)

Over the last couple of weeks or so the controversial OECD report seems to have created quite a storm of conversation. There has been the usual media hype (such as this article, shared by John Owen) which proclaimed “Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results” says OECD! Monika Kern and Leigh Hynes jumped in immediately with brief responses, while Mark A Curcher recommended Audrey Watters’ post, and Claire Amos shared a post she had written.

Claire, in her post, suggests that while “relatively small there is plenty of compelling evidence and research available” (source) that illustrates “e-learning is effective” (source). For example, Claire indicated that literature reviews, such as Noeline Wright’s ‘e-Learning and implications for New Zealand schools: a literature review‘, highlight “a wide range of potential benefits, ranging from motivation and engagement to the development of critical thinking and multiliteracies” (source). These are all essential factors for effective learning and ‘being’ in today’s world. Therefore, why are we still assessing students on skills such as recall, if they are learning and applying skills such as problem solving, inquiry, evaluation, and collaboration (source)?

Audrey’s points are also well made. She reflects that “in some ways, this week’s report on computers’ effect on learning (or rather, their effect on PISA test scores) is no different, even though it targets a core of modern education mythology: that more technology is … better” (source). Audrey goes on to indicate that “education technology in and of itself is surely not progressive” (source).

I feel that one of the key messages of the report (a need for shifts in ways we learn…and teach) and the medium (in this case technology) have become confused. Technology, for me, has always been a way to make the most of a range of affordances – complementary to learning – that may enhance learning experiences … not only teaching, which seems to be the key focus in the report. As such, the areas I feel we need to be targeting are 1) building shared understandings around learning theories (how do we all think we learn most effectively?). This conversation needs to happen at 1) Education policy / government level; 2) amongst community and parents; and 3) between teachers / principals / leadership in the education sectors. Until we have agreement around that, how are we going to differentiate between ‘click and tick’ compared with integrated, empowering curricula that may (or may not) be enhanced by learning technologies?

The good news is, there are some examples of what can happen. This one from Aotearoa New Zealand is particularly heartening. In this Radio New Zealand podcast (13 mins 30 secs), Jennifer Palmer (a Year 12 student at Orewa College), speaks eloquently and confidently about how a combination of active learning and inquiry and use of the affordances of mobile, connected devices, has helped her and her classmates learn.

Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences – so please jump into the conversation:)

Welcome to new members – September 2015

The Ethos Online Community now has 372 members. Hope you will all give a warm haere mai (welcome) to new members to the community who joined in September:

  • From Auckland, we welcome Joanne Robson. Joanne works as a Future Focused Education Facilitator and is especially interested in how e-learning can aid deep learning, leading and teaching.

  • Linda Luckins, is a retired creative based in Hastings, who is interested in the opportunity to experience the views of others.

  • All the way from Tampere, Finland, we welcome Mark A Curcher. Mark is a  Program Director of a Finnish online teacher education program. His interests include social media for learning, social bookmarking, distance education, Open Education, and Open Education Resources.


Know anyone who would like to join an international Online Community that’s all about learning – across all education sectors, business & ITOs: Please invite them :)


Member Blog Posts and discussions

In this newsletter, as always we have some great posts. Please jump into the conversation and feel free to ask questions.

  • Our featured blogger for September is Nicola Stevenson. Nicola’s post looks into how she incorporated the Japanese technique, The Kaizen Way, into her classroom. The Kaizen Way focuses on constant self improvement and was originally used when rebuilding Japan after World War Two. Nicola used the technique in the context of future focused learning, putting emphasis on the importance of goal setting and reflection. This post includes a fabulous example of Kaizen that was received positively by Nicola’s students, as well as an informative, useful presentation on the subject. This is extremely interesting to consider in the educational field as well as on a personal level.
  • The issue of privacy and social media is one that is relevant to most, and a topic constantly under scrutiny. Well, according to this New York Times article (Tackling social network privacy issues) four self-proclaimed ‘nerds’ may be on the way to finding a solution. The article looks into the students, who are currently building a social network that doesn’t force users to surrender information to big businesses. The project has already seen huge support and is well on its way to being a reality. A creative and intelligent way to solve a social issue. Thank you to Helen Martin for sharing.

  • Primary and Secondary Distance Education and Online Learning Worldwide: How Much Do We Actually Know? looks into the history of virtual and distance learning worldwide. Michael Barbour looks at the research around trends, development and growth in this sector in order to examine whether Powell and Patrick’s (2006) statement that “little information is available about current [primary and secondary] e-learning initiatives across the world” is still true.

  • Rick Whalley has added a further instalment in his series: My Journey in Developing our School Curriculum: Part 4. In this post Rick focuses on how the changes to the curriculum impacted upon students’ learning and how teachers and parents felt regarding the changes. Rick discusses the methods that were made to measure both these things and, of course, reveals the results of all his hard work!

  • Google images are often used as the go-to for finding images. This resource is commonly used in the education field for things such as lessons, presentations, handouts etc. However, it is a misconception that all Google images are available to be used legally. Being responsible when using others’ information online is central to digital citizenship and something that should be modelled by teachers and outlined to students. In this (Breaking the Google Images habit) post by Suzie Vesper we are provided with crucial information on licensing and copyright, and tips on how to find legitimately useable images.

  • Teaching as Inquiry Evaluations: Are we paddling the same waka? looks at Charlotte French’s experience as the Leader of School-wide PLD at her school. Charlotte talks about her goal of creating an environment centred around teamwork and shared vision. Charlotte first delves into some of the theory she looked at, mainly Renihan’s model for change management. Then goes onto to tell us how the theory was actually put into practice. Charlotte implemented things such as low stress self-monitoring techniques, the use of the “Storyhui” tool and another self-evaluation matrix learnt on an Auckland University leadership course. Take a look in the link above to read in more detail about Charlotte’s strategies and the results they garnered.


Also recommended

As always you have contributed a superb variety of posts this month. Thank you. Here are some of the posts and topics that you may find of interest:

  • Learn to unlearn: The path to education reform focuses on a keynote presentation from Chris Betcher. Chris believes that we need to unlearn the current education system as it is no longer designed for the new world we live in. Chris delves into what Google has done since 1998 and the influence they have had on everyday lives of people. Could we have predicted 12 years ago what the world would be like? What will the world look like 12 years from now? What are we preparing the students of today for? Chris argues that the current system is producing passive learners who do not have the capacity to question what school is and mearley follow the given curriculum. Chris believes that we should instead be producing learners who know how to act in unfamiliar situations.

  • A recent article titled “Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results, says OECD” seemed to imply negative connotations towards the current use of technology in education. Interesting to read that this is still something that is so full of ignorance and misconception. It is frequently said, but seems to be lost in translation – computers alone do nothing to improve learning…it’s what the students do with them!! Underpinning that is the assumption that, if students are learning skills such as problem solving, inquiry, evaluation, and collaboration, we actually assess them on those skills rather than ones that were required 10…20…or more years ago. Take a read and share your thoughts: Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results …It’s not the computer it’s what your students do with them!!

  • WIth the ever-growing amount of apps available to us in there many different forms, it’s becoming a challenge to source the relevant one. This becomes an ever more arduous task if looking for something that is pedagogically sound and quality assured by educators. This may be short lived issue though with the appearance of startup companies that are aimed at defining and assessing quality to help parents and teachers make better choices. Read more in Over half a million apps in the iTunes store alone – which do you choose for learning?

  • Psychometric testing and the myth of personality types delves into some of the questionable elements of personality quizes. The clumsiness of the actual techniques is explored along with the dangers of labelling people, especially in context to teenage students. There is also a link to a great podcast on the matter.

  • This post is based around a podcast by This American Life. The podcast focuses on  “studies that show how poverty-related stress can affect brain development, and inhibit the development of non-cognitive skills”. There is a growing body of research that examines the importance of these non-cognitive skills in education. There is also some evidence that such skills can be taught to older students who have not previously been exposed to them. Take a look at the post and the podcast here: Vital to education: Non-cognitive skills


Recommended videos

From the ever growing repository of videos (1,194 – thanks as always to John S Oliver for his awesome contributions), these are a just few of the highlights.

  • This video is one that (unfortunately) I’m sure a lot of you will relate to – Relax, Breathe and #LetGo. Sanctuary Spa asked women about their lifestyle – nearly half said they were feeling moderately or extremely stressed, and shockingly, 40% feel like they’re about to burn out. Sanctuary are on a mission to get women to Relax, Breathe and #LetGo. So they have created a film with advice from women who truly know the importance of stepping back every now and then and appreciating life’s precious moments. Hopefully we can all take a little snippet of peace from this.

  • Totara LMS: an open source learning management system looks at this sofware (based on the Moodle model) designed specifically for the business world’s eLearning needs.

  • This video acts as a reminder that the daily grind isn’t the be all and end all. Infact, it may be the very thing that is pulling us away from what is important. This video looks at what we may be missing out on when we wear our daily armour of impatience and unfriendliness. The importance of taking a moment; of looking around explores the possibilities that can come from a simple look, the willingness to be open in a closed off nation.

  • John S. Oliver kindly shares with us a series of TedEd, lessons worth sharing. Great to show to a class when trying to explain a concept. The first looks into The mathematical secrets of Pascal’s triangle. There is also why is glass transparent and why is ketchup so hard to pour….. something a little bit different and fun but still educational.

  • This video (Can you solve the bridge riddle?) is a fun little puzzle to give to challenge students (and potentially yourself).

  • Education surrounding the royal family can be a daunting one, given the vast amount of history and information. This video (Brief history of The Royal Family) attempts to summarise this in just under 9 minutes – pretty impressive!





Lots of other things happening (online courses, conferences and other opportunities) including the Webinar Series: Teaching tips to build your learners foundation skills. Taking place on October 14th.

Please feel free to add events to share them, or just let me know and I’ll add them :-)



Nāku iti nei, faafetai lava, and warm regards


Hazel Owen

Education consultant / Director

Ethos Consultancy NZ Ltd

PO Box 90391, Victoria Street West,

Auckland 1142

Phone +64 (0)9 4016473

Mobile +64 (0)21 2273777

Web site:


Email addresses: /

Skype: hazelowendmc

Connected Educator: Start Connecting with Connected Educator

One for my Kiwi readers from Monday’s inbox…

The CENZ calendar is now live! Mark the dates in your diary for the FREE events you want to participate in.

Connected Educator Aotearoa New Zealand kicks off today!

Choose your focus and get involved!

Dear Michael

He whatunga tangata he whatunga mātanga! Tātai Aho Rau! Tūhono atu ki ngā mahi rangatira, ngā mahi mātauranga ki te whatunga tangata, whatunga mātanga. Haumi e, hui e, taiaki e!!

We’d like to send a HUGE paki paki to every single one of you who has pledged an event, signed up for book groups and competitions, shared links and tweets, and generally thrown your support behind this inaugural event for Aotearoa New Zealand. We are stronger, together.

300+ events…and rising!

With Connected Educator kicking-off today, it’s exciting to see so many online professional learning events added to the calendar. From webinars to Twitter chats, the CENZ themes can be explored from the comfort of your own digital device!
Sign up for a Launch Event: From early childhood education to digital technologies, NZ connected learning and blogging initiatives, there is something for everyone with Connected Educator NZ.

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If you’ve always wondered about blogging or fancied a taste of Twitter, now is the time to get started with our step-by-step guides.

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CENZ 2015 is now underway! We have lots to look forward to, including a series of live webinars giving you the chance to get to know a few innovative educators, some thought provoking Pond discussions to join, new podcast episodes, and a fun competition for those of you also joining us at ULearn. Stay tuned for all the details, coming soon!

Spread the word!  Tukuna te kōrero kia rere

Whether you are participating in an activity or leading a session, tell the world you’re part of this global event. Share Connected Educator with your school/kura/ECE centre: Make it a focus for term 4.

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  • Wondering how you or your organisation can get involved in Connected Educator this year? Start here > #cenz15

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Free Starter Kete NZ

  • NZ’s own Connected Educator Starter Kete Dip your toes in every day in October #cenz15 #ce15


  • The Connected Educator CENZ calendar has over 400 events, with more added daily! Create your schedule at

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We would like to take this opportunity to thank our National Partner – N4L Ltd.
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Add us to your address book e-Newsletter – 9/28/15

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SEPTEMBER 28, 2015
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September 29, 2015

Congratulations To Our Speak Up Loud And Clear Top Schools!

Finishing up the blogging day with…

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Announcing our Speak Up Loud and Clear schools!

Top participating schools from Speak Up 2014

With Speak Up 2015 just around the corner, we would like to thank our past Speak Up participants! We greatly appreciate all the support and encouragement that went in to making Speak Up 2014 such a success – without you, Speak Up would not be possible.

Last year over 521,000 Students, Parents, Educators and members of the community representing over 8,000 schools nationwide participated in Speak Up 2014. To honor our top participating schools and districts, Project Tomorrow has nominated the top Speak Up schools for our Speak Up Loud and Clear recognition program. Speak Up Loud and Clear, formerly known as Speak Up 200, highlights schools that are effectively incorporating Speak Up data into their local decision-making. Each year, finalists are selected based on total student participation, length of time involved with Speak Up, and use of data in local decision making.

We are proud to recognize 244 Speak Up Loud and Clear schools for their strong participation during Speak Up 2014! The complete list of Speak Up Loud and Clear schools are highlighted on our website – click here to view the full list.

SULC districts

Based upon total participation and demonstrated commitment to engaging their stakeholders in local decisions on education issues, five school districts were also recognized for special distinctions. The top 5 school districts from Speak Up 2014 are:

Klein Independent School District (Texas)
Onslow County Schools (North Carolina)
Wake County Schools (North Carolina)
Anaheim City School District (California)
Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Indiana)

Congratulations to our Speak Up Loud and Clear schools and districts!


Don’t forget – Speak Up 2015 starts in a few days! Spread the word about the survey to your school(s) to encourage strong participation and a chance at being recognized as a Speak Up Loud and Clear school for Speak Up 2015! And for our current Speak Up Loud and Clear schools, this is the perfect opportunity to secure your spot as a top school for another year.

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[DEANZ] Latest News From The OFDL Sector, 28 September 2015

One for my Kiwi readers from yesterday’s inbox…


Latest news in online, open and flexible education – opportunities, resources and inspiration, 28 September 2015

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The following news items may be of interest to you:

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