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How the CLA supported Glen Eden Primary School

CLA image 1Since early 2015, the Ministry of Education’s Connected Learning Advisory – Te Ara Whītiki (CLA) has been supporting schools and kura in their integration of digital technologies. State and state-integrated schools from around New Zealand enquire about a broad range of topics from technical infrastructure and new pedagogies, to community engagement and strategic direction. This month we explore how the advisory supported Glen Eden Primary School in their integration of digital technologies with learning.

Glen Eden Primary School in West Auckland made an initial request early in 2015 for support around e-learning strategic planning and making decisions for choosing digital technologies.

A new physical teaching and learning classroom was being explored as part of the Ministry funded Innovative Learning Space (ILS). The new space would allow new pedagogies to be developed further with digital technologies playing a vital role. 

“The CLA staff helped us by leading discussions, filling in initial documents to get us started and organising visits to observe digital technologies in operation in other schools. We really appreciated the open collaborative approach that they took with us and how we were led to form our own conclusions and opinions around where we wanted to head.”

- Donna Soljan, Principal, Glen Eden Primary School.

FIRST STEPS

An early facilitated face-to-face session with the CLA advisor was focused on the e-Learning Planning Framework (eLPF). The eLPF allows schools to assess their situation across five key dimensions:

  • Learning and Teaching

  • Technology and Infrastructure

  • Leadership

  • Professional Learning

  • Beyond the Classroom

The purpose of focusing on the eLPF was to help the school identify other areas of need that they may not have considered. It also sets a starting point to revisit and reassess where the school is at in the future and see what progress has been made.
 

EXPLORING NEW NETWORKS AND INITIATIVES

The CLA provides encouragement and guidance to help schools to build and develop their own networks of support both locally and nationwide. A tour of two schools that were early adopters of mobile digital devices and BYOD was organised. The goals of the visits were to observe the role of digital technologies in teaching and learning and to learn of the opportunities and challenges that have arisen through their introduction.

“It is important to see good practice to develop our own practice and increase our pedagogical knowledge. ‘What worked’ and ‘what didn’t work’ stories from other schools will help Glen Eden make less mistakes in our journey.”

 – Andrew Read, teacher.

CHANGING LEADERSHIP

A change in leadership in a school can slow or even halt the progress of developing and sharing learning of the use of digital technologies. In the case of Glen Eden, it was understood early on that a change in principalship would be taking place at the beginning of 2016. While there wasn’t a concern about a potential sudden change in the decisions around the use of technologies, it was recognised there was a need to plan for the change in order to keep the momentum going.

To alleviate the concerns, the CLA advisor helped the lead teachers focus on what they could individually control in order to add value to the way the whole staff thought about using digital technologies.

By encouraging the individual teachers to initiate their own learning and exploration with digital technologies, it increased their understanding of the value of interacting with this technology and the learners in order to improve learning outcomes. The school visits showed how the principles of effective digital technology use could apply to almost any learning context. The thinking and behaviours of the staff and students observed could be articulated to all staff at Glen Eden, with the lessons and experiences discussed within their own context.

CONCLUSION

The reality for many schools is that the effective use of digital technologies can seem like an isolated or ad hoc experience – maybe only a handful of teachers are exploring their potential. With the systems or a culture in place to effectively share these separate experiences across the school, the improved outcomes for students are likely to be more consistent.

Here are some final recommendations:

  • Identify and support e-learning leaders to develop and strengthen their abilities.
  • Schedule structured time for e-learning leaders to teach and share with others.
  • Explore opportunities to connect with organisations like the CLA as a catalyst to build networks of professional learners.
  • Connect with other schools and have conversations with their teachers. It gives opportunity to see the thinking that has gone into some of the decisions around technology use.
  • Ensure that the innovation and development around increased technology use can be measured and shared within learning communities, regardless of changes in staff or leadership. Being able to demonstrate the impact of effective use of technology can improve the case for its continuation or development, so make it visible.
  • Provide opportunities for students to teach others about effective technology use within the school community and make it part of the school culture.

CONTACT THE CONNECTED LEARNING ADVISORY

The Connected Learning Advisory is supporting hundreds of schools, and now also Communities of Learning, as they make strategic decisions related to learning with digital technologies.

If you have a query about integrating technology with teaching and learning, or you want to suggest a topic for this column, contact the Connected Learning Advisory on:

Phone: 0800 700 400

Online form: www.tearawhitiki.org.nz or: www.connectedlearning.org.nz.

The Ministry of Education’s Connected Learning Advisory is managed by CORE Education.