Image by sridgway via Flickr
The Virtual Learning Network (VLN) brings the learning to the students, and opens up choice and opportunities to study a curriculum that suits the student, rather than being limited by a school's curriculum. Rick Whalley introduced the VLN primary initiative and indicated that there is the potential to provide "our students in the Primary Sector with learning opportunities" that are far wider than those that can be provided by individual schools. Rachel Roberts writes "This is a great opportunity for your students to not only access different subjects but to help them develop in the key competencies of managing self, relating to others, and participating & contributing" (source).
The initiative is underpinned by the Ps that are identified in the LOC handbook, and is also based on the notion of reciprocity. So, in order to access learning opportunities schools also need to contribute to or support learning opportunities (for example, if a school can't offer a course, they can contribute to paying a teacher from another school who is offering a course).
Most of the courses that are offered at the moment are focussed on languages, but are opening up to include, for example, astronomy. the online classes only last for half and hour, and the maximum number of students is 12 per session. Adobe Connect and the audio conferencing in part dictate the number of students in a class. The reason that the phone lines are used is that many schools do not have the bandwidth for audio. The asynchronous aspect of the course are hosted in Moodle (http://primary.vln.school.nz
), where, for example, the PowerPoint from a session is uploaded, along with audio files and other resources. Other tools that are used are Skype, video conferencing, and Web 2.0 tools.
Image via Wikipedia
The VLN primary is part of wider educational communities such as VLNC, ESOL, Virtual Professional Learning and Development, ICT PD and so on. One of the aims is to grow a Community of Practice of talented eTeachers in the primary sector. The PD for teachers is also offered online. One of the future visions of the initiative is brokering collaborations between NZ schools.
Opportunities are available for all NZ primary schools, and Rick (email@example.com) was asking for people to contact him if they have any questions, or would like to join up for 2012.