Resources for Canterbury Schools

There’s been a lot going on here in Christchurch over the past couple of weeks since the 6.3 earthquake wreaked havoc in our city. Our schools are now gradually opening up again, but many face difficulty in gaining access to resources that are no longer accessible in buildings that are out of bounds, or exist on servers or laptops that still lie in ruined buildings. In addition, we have a large number of students who must be catered for during times they are not physically at school, including students who are sharing schools for half days, or others who are not being sent back by their parents yet because the local school is still closed or they have travelled out of the city temporarily to escape the aftershocks.

Some of my colleagues in the GCSN have been working hard to assist by accumulating links to online resources that other teachers have found useful and can recommend. Spreading the word via lists, twitter and other social networks, this group has ‘crowd-sourced‘ a wealth of resources that are now available on the GCSN teaching and learning resources page, complete with the ability to rate the resource and provide feedback on its usefulness as a recommendation to other teachers.

This is just one of the initiatives that our team is undertaking to work alongside the Ministry of Education endeavours in the post-earthquake recovery phase. Next week we have Wayne Mackintosh and Jim Tittsler from WikiEducator coming to CHCH for a couple of days to work with local teachers on using WikiEducator to create and share teaching and learning resources that can be added to this repertoire.

In addition, a team are also working on populating a locally-hosted version of Moodle 2 with courses and course materials – some created locally and some being shared by schools and teachers in other parts of the country. The aim is to take advantage of the new community hub feature in Moodle 2 to enable this sort of sharing to take place.

I’m impressed. Out of adversity comes innovation, and I’m sure these initiatives will provide much more than a ‘quick-fix’ solution to the immediate need. If done properly, we may well provide a platform for a completely different way of thinking about the use and sharing of resources for teaching and learning within the education community.

11 thoughts on “Resources for Canterbury Schools

    1. Hi Rachel – yep, aware of this – it was set up by Jill Hammonds as the means of gathering all of the resources that are now being transferred into the GCSN site 🙂

  1. I really like the design of the resource gallery in the GCSN website. It’s better than anything I have seen around in NZ and better than many international resources.I am all for using games and internet resources in education. But having a background in psychology, as nice the new website looks, I am not sure it is the best approach to take in this context.

    Many kids can be expected to feel anxious about the negative impact that school disruptions could have on their end-of-year exams. a list of bookmarks and no instructions other than “take your pick and do whatever you want with them” is likely to do more harm than good in helping kids move on with their learning.

    If you take the time to read about anxiety (up to post-traumatic stress), you will find that the usual recommendation is “Parents and teachers can most help traumatized children by following a structure and giving them some sense of control. Immediately after the trauma, children should be given accurate and specific information concerning their immediate safety. Adults need to acknowledge what has occurred and discuss what will happen to them next. Children should be encouraged to share their experience, but some may not be ready or willing to talk.” (copied from:“)

    Kids are not stupid. They know that playing these games won’t get them to pass their exams. What kids need are the means to feel that they are back in control, in this context, in control of their own learning (and of their ability to succeed at end of year exams). The best way to help them is to provide them with a limited list of tasks with clear calls to action, with clear information on the expected outcomes.

    I really like the design of the resource gallery. Kudos on the team behind the design. However, I am unclear about the value of yet another listing of resources is not gonna do much for the education community. Repeat and divide practices tend to weaken rather than empower the community. I am not clear why it is felt that the excellent website Software for Learning – – wasn’t good enough. The GCSN one doesn’t appear to allow for any community involvement (other than adding stars).

    But the real problem is that it is not clear how useful it is in this very special context… how useful it is to try and limit the negative impact of extended school disruptions on their learning… and more specifically on their marks at the end of year exams.

    Something worth considering, that would give the structure that is known to help in contexts of post-traumatic stress and elevated anxiety while providing material that will more directly increase kids likelihood to get good marks at their exams would be to have teachers, all over NZ, record their lecture as videos (I know some do it and know how to do it) and publish them on the web to follow a recommended schedule, preferably augmented by a list of activities that are directly relevant to the lesson they just followed.

    All in all, Very similar to what Khan academy (that you list in your resources does). Thanks to the Khan academy, it is not too difficult to do. They have released all their code open source – You could replace all videos and activities with you own, to provide a clear progression, from activity of this type:
    All it requires is to start practicing a skill that has been declared by the MoE as key competency for the 21st century. Collaboration and putting the interests of the community above any need for personal recognition.

    1. Thanks for your very full response here Marielle (and for your other comments on this post)
      I guess I need to clarify here. The list of resources is intended for teachers, not students in this case. It is a part of an overall strategy that we are working towards here in Christchurch to support schools and teachers in their efforts to work with students in the wide variety of circumstances they find themselves in after the earthquake – from regular classrooms, to shared schools and learning hubs, to students working at home with parents until they are able to return to school. The collation of resources is the first step towards developing a repository of online learning activities around these resources, work that is currently being carried out by a growing team of teachers on the ground here in CHCH, using a basic instructional design template and being made available in a locally hosted Moodle 2 installation. Another phase involves working with the Ministry of Education with TKI and other resource providers (i.e. WikiEducator) to widen the range of resources that may be used. Yet a third phase involves working to implement and train teachers in the use of a variety of synchronous tools to promote the engagement and discourse associated with the provision of the online courses and course ‘bites’.
      We are all too aware of the social, psychological and emotional needs of learners (and teachers) in CHCH at the present time, thus our efforts are aimed at maximising the level of support to teachers and schools, without placing them under extra pressure or stress as they cope with (a) their personal response and circumstances after the quake, and (b) the responses and circumstances of their students and their families. Our aim is to do this in a way that provides an opportunity to be developed further into a future education provision that is sustainable and consistent with many of the ideas you represent in your comments.

  2. In a context of divided schools, with two schools sharing the same premises, on half schedules, an option you can consider is to invite kids to mentor younger ones. Either face to face, for these divided schools. Either at a distance, using web tools. “To teach is to learn twice” – Joseph Joubert.

    Florence Lyons, one of your last year e-fellows, tried that last year with success. Check out her article describing an example of year 12 students teaching year 8 ones, in French:

  3. For kids attending schools on shared premises, I wonder if it is any possible to team up with some associations like the computer clubhouse. (they don’t seem to have a location in Christchurch, but hopefully, there are some equivalent associations locally).

    This might help the kids meaningfully engage with their learning beyond the half day they spend at school when on shared premises while providing some relief to the parents as their kids are being looked after during work hours. Older kids could make a contribution to the Moodle website for Christchurch. Most adults in Christchurch have to juggle between possible issues with their home and crisis/recovery management at school. Kids have talent, skills, knowledge, and time.

    Curriculum Key Competency – Participating and contributing

    This competency is about being actively involved in communities. Communities include family, whānau, and school and those based, for example, on a common interest or culture. They may be drawn together for purposes such as learning, work, celebration, or recreation. They may be local, national, or global. This competency includes a capacity to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.

    Students who participate and contribute in communities have a sense of belonging and the confidence to participate within new contexts. They understand the importance of balancing rights, roles, and responsibilities and of contributing to the quality and sustainability of social, cultural, physical, and economic environments.


    Why not?

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