Implementing models of blended learning: Examples from the Southern Central Divide schools

PrimarysImage by crdotx via FlickrNiki Savis and Darren Sudlow started by introducing the regional eLearning clusters in NZ. Initially, Trevor Storr and Darren looked at the notion of blended learning, which they felt opened up opportunities for students to learn; underpinning this was a focus on personalised learning. Darren pointed out that personalised learning is an interesting term that has been inerpreted in many different ways.

The model was developed with 4 days intensive face-to-face at the beginning to develop relationships, and then became more online. The participants worked together online. One point made by Niki and Darrne was that there was a large range of different contexts and they found that they had to move out of their ‘home’ environment, and out into the spaces that the participants were using. They found that there was an early dip where Niki and Darren wondered if the participants would get there, but in about June of the first year, the momentum started to build.
Primary 1 - Foaming Unique hand painted sleeve...Image by HIKKERS via Flickr
The Star Trek syndrome was a term coined by one of the participants…to boldly go where no-one had been before. Originally it had been envisaged that there would be a discipline, and secondary focus, but in the end the facilitators had to adapt as there were quite a few primary participants….and this has been fantastic. The first year was tough going, though, in the terms of buidling up the teachers’ capacity. There were many achievements!

Participants indicated that time was a key issue, and it was difficult to make time for the engagement in the dicussions and online spaces. There was also a confidence gap. In the pilot there were some ‘stars’, and a general move away from presenting in an academic style toward presenting to the community.

By the end of it the teachers had achieved quite a bit, and had really built a sense of community. The working community of practice has been a key part of the success. Confidence has grown, and some of the project leaders have taken over some of the key aspects of the community.

Several super examples of succes were shown, and some key points pulled out such as weaving in with school policy, working with the Board of Governors, and going beyond the classroom and into the networked community.

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About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ (http://www.ethosconsultancynz.com/). I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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