Virtual learning as an impetus for educational change

Barbour_PaperFollowing the theme of my previous couple of posts, today we published a paper written by Michael Barbour (with a little help from me) titled Virtual Learning as an Impetus for Educational Change: Charting a way forward for learning in New Zealand.

This paper has been a while coming, and is the product of a visit to NZ early last year by Michael Barbour during which he visited many of the schools involved in NZ’s virtual learning network, and extensively researched the background of the  development of virtual learning in NZ over the past couple of decades.

The purpose of the paper is to examine the current state of virtual learning in the schools sector, as well as chart a vision for the virtual learning in 2016 and beyond. In this document, first, we trace the history and development of the main types of providers of distance education to establish the context for the current provision of online distance and blended learning in New Zealand. Second, we examine the organisational models designed to allow for the continued development of these initiatives. Finally, we consolidate and expand these two organisational models to chart a specific vision for the future of education in New Zealand’s school’s sector.

For anyone who takes the time to read this document, I’d be interested to hear your reaction to the models we propose, and your ideas on how we might enact this to make it a real option for learners in 21st century NZ?

3 thoughts on “Virtual learning as an impetus for educational change

  1. Hi Derek

    Your link no longer seems to link to the white paper. I did manage to have a brief read on Friday, but link not working today.



  2. Hi Derek,

    Thanks to you and Michael for putting forward this white paper. We have been very quiet in our conversations on the collective way forward for some time so hopefully this will spark some rigourous discussion.

    I am absolutely in agreement that we need national co-ordination & resourcing to support schools networked learning in NZ. We can't do it in our individual clusters, loops & initiatives. For me it feels that we have been going round in circles for years, reinventing the wheel in cluster administration, policy, professional development, course development, school & student support – all things are draining our time, energy, resources and eventually good will. It is amazing that there are any ePrincipals left, it has been a hard slog with little collectively gained. Our networks have leaders with a great depth of  knowledge & experience, we have some big personalities and may differ in some philisophical perspectives; though I believe we all hold the same vision and goals for our students – so how do you wrangle that to become effective and efficient across the schooling sector? Individual leadership doesn't do it, collective leadership hasn't done it – systems level change is needed to enable this.

    I believe Virtual Learning needs to sit as part of our NZ schooling system, for too long we have been sitting on the boundaries & under the radar. It will require change on the part of the system to enable this to happen. The MoE need to partner and lead with us on this. 

    What Cathy Wylie has to say in 'Vital Connections' is so relevant to why we have struggled in Virtual Learning over recent years. Although there is an impetus for 'collective school cultures to share expertise and responsibilities' there is also a great disconnect between the infrastructure needed to enable this (systems & people), a separation from the MoE and from policy development.

    Mahary got is right in 2006 when he said “…the answer lies in reorienting the system. Our challenge, as we examine how to make a difference… is to reorient our system away from the organisation to the learner. Placing the learner at the centre of the education system (personalising) ….It’s about providing a flexible system where teachers, schools, communities, and other groups can identify the needs of learners and be provided with the tools and support to meet those needs…”

    So we have been talking about this for years, how can we move things forward and make it a reality?

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