Image by crdotx via FlickrNiki Savis, Trevor Storr and Darren Sudlow work within the regional eLearning clusters in NZ., in particular using blended learning, which they feel opens up opportunities for students to learn. Underpinning this is a focus on personalised learning. Darren points out that personalised learning is an interesting term that has been interpreted in many different ways.
The overall 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 Darren 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.
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 building 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 discussions 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. They also have some super examples of success, 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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