Today I had the opportunity to make a presentation to the NZEALS conference being held in Tauranga. I was in Wellington at the time, participating in the DEANZ conference, but took the opportunity to make the link to Tauranga via video conference (thanks to the folks at asnet).
The NZEALS committee had asked me to share my thinking about the future direction for education in NZ, focusing on blended learning, the role of online communities of practice in this, and the emergence of networked schooling models.
The essence of my message was that we must move our thinking beyond the autonomous, self-manging schools model of Tomorrows Schools, and look to a system model of Networked Schooling if we're to achieve a future-focused education system that is robust and responsive to the needs of 21st Century learners. I outlined how this is already happening in New Zealand with the emergence of school clusters using video conferencing and other technologies to share classes, resources and staffing, but that this activity has now reached the point where it needs more systemic support in terms of policy change and changes in leadership style and approach.
Back at the DEANZ conference we were having some similar discussions, with the establishment of a schools special interest group (SIG) within DEANZ which will aim to focus attention on supporting the development of open, flexible and distance educaiton practices in the various school networks and clusters that are emerging here – and linking with similar initiatives in Australia through our links with AADES there.