Karen Melhuish kicked off the session by introducing some discussion and thinking about eLearning and what the various terminology might mean.
“eLearning is learning and teaching that is facilitated by or supported through the appropriate use of ICTs”, and eMaturity is “a school or college’s capacity to make strategic and effective use of ICT to improve educational outcomes” (BECTA)
Historically, different people from different contexts, might bring different understandings to the table. Karen then posed the question, Why do we need national eMaturity? Developing mature learners who are resilient, and the institutions themselves are less focussed on the tools, and more on the achievement of learning outcomes.
Karen shared with a short video, which looked specifically at an eLearning initiative with a focus on literacy. The community was involved as well as the school, which gets to the heart of the matter – the ability for schools to have the technology to be interwoven with the process, and to bring in the community, not just for the sake of bringing in the community, but to play a meaningful role in the students’ learning.
Enabling eLearning is highly connected to a wide number of initiatives, and is, in part there to assist schools to maximise the opportunities offered by modern technologies and ultra-fast broadband. This will help the development, in schools, of eLearning capability, who are required to address a range of interdependent factors.. Sitting behind all of these is the notion that schools, leaders, teachers and students understand and negotiate the relationships between technology, online eLearning, pedagogy, and content knowledge within and beyond the curriculum.
The eLearning planning framework draws on many other frameworks from an international palette, but recognises the ‘differences’ of the NZ context. Schools are able to review the way that they are integrating technology across five key dimensions, and in turn to establish a descriptive baseline of where they currently sit.
Karen then introduced the challenge: How do we go about enhancing eCapability nationally? It needs to be through a process of sustained, evidenced cycle of application and review. Deep and meaningful change is likely to happen within a specific school, but how could these lifts be applied to a national context? What are the design issues? What are the problems? Some of the challenges:
- Sharing / collaborating – openness comes more easily to some more than others, and comparative league tables of schools are not necessarily conducive to open sharing of professional practice
- Measuring what is actually happening rather than focussing on achievement in standardised testing (who, how, what?)
- Deep professional learning takes time
- Sustained support around the technology
The ePlanning framework is a step towards a more rigorous process.
So – what should be in an online professional learning hub?
- Practical examples
- Space to communicate
- Opportunities to fluidly connect between institutions
- Case studies / access to experts
- Mentors / coaching
- Initiatives underway (school leadership)
Enabling elearning is not just about providing, but it is also about schools contributing and sharing – reciprocity – and also provide a ‘connected’ experience.