Robots as teachers?

Robots are becoming increasingly used to replace human activity in many areas of modern society. They've  been used for decades in various forms of manufacturing such as car assembly, in medicine and and are even used now in the dairy industry in New Zealand and other parts of the world. Tasks that were once considered too sophisticated and something that humans only could do are now being taken up by the use of robots.  Education has long been considered sacred in this regard, with the catch cry "robots will never replace teachers" oft repeated. But consider how the repetitive and … Continue reading Robots as teachers?

Virtual learning as an impetus for educational change

Following 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 … Continue reading Virtual learning as an impetus for educational change

What works in blended learning

Education Week has just released  their second report in an ongoing series on virtual education titled Evaluating What Works in Blended Learning, that examines a number of examples of blended learning approaches  in the US context,  and aims to identify what is working and where improvements are needed. The initial paper provides a useful definition of blended learning and the 4 approaches described by the Innosite Institute – and the cases studies that follow are taken from a number of US-based schools and school districts to illustrate a range of implementation models from which useful lessons can be learned.  With increasing interest … Continue reading What works in blended learning

NZEALS conference presentation

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 … Continue reading NZEALS conference presentation

The future is blended

Will 2012 be the year where we see blended learning become more commonly accepted? The recent announcement from MIT about the development of its MITx education initiative certainly is a step in the right direction. MITx is designed to enhance the educational experience of its on-campus students, offering them online tools that supplement and enrich their classroom and laboratory experiences. MIT’s online learning initiative is led by MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif who says "Students worldwide are increasingly supplementing their classroom education with a variety of online tools." No surprises there – in almost every school I visit I see evidence of … Continue reading The future is blended

Has the time for virtual learning arrived…?

The latest CFH newsletter arrived in my inbox today, with the lead article titled "Changing Tradition" in which Patrick Walsh, President of the Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand describes his experience of a recent trip to Toronto, Canada. He shares his impressions of what access to ultra-fast broadband means for the students who can now choose from a wide range of learning options, only some of them from their own school. My friends and colleagues working in schools that are a part of the the Virtual Learning Network in NZ will be pleased to see this – as this … Continue reading Has the time for virtual learning arrived…?

Online teacher standards

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) has just released a revised version its standards that define high-quality teaching in online and blended-learning programs. The aim of the revision is to address the need for more personalize learning. With the rapid increase in the number of online courses and virtual schools in the US and internationally, the demand on teachers to adopt practices that are appropriate to these environments it is useful to have such a framework to help both teachers and administrators maintain a quality focus on what is happening in this area.  It would be beneficial for … Continue reading Online teacher standards

Will the future of education be virtual?  Will the future of work be virtual was the title fo a link posted by a colleague of mine yesterday. While the article poses the question in the context of work, based on a construct of outsourced workers in a globalised context, I was intrigued by the title, thinking of the challenges faced in education, and how the response is increasingly leading us to think virtually (not that I believe the face-to-face and local context will disappear completely – we must stop thinking in binary terms in a digital world!). Rather, I think we will inevitably need to be … Continue reading Will the future of education be virtual?

Rise of blended learning

Blended learning is the ‘buzz’ word around the world at the moment it would seem. It appears regularly through recent Ministry of Education documents on eLearning and effective teaching, and is a centre-piece of the latest round of eLearning professional development contracts. We’ve certainly seen a rise in blended learning approaches in some NZ schools in recent years, particularly within the Virtual Learning Network, and now within some of the UFB schools, such as the GCSN in Christchurch. A report just out from the US brings a timely perspective to this phenomenon, focusing specifically on the schooling sector. Titled, The … Continue reading Rise of blended learning

Digital Learning Now

I’ve been totally snowed under for the past couple of weeks, and missed blogging, but the’s release of a report from the Digital Learning Council has caught my attention when I saw it this morning on the Education Week blog. They’ve released a ‘roadmap’ to overhaul education in the US, recommending  major changes to state education policy, many of which would I’ve been advocating here in NZ for some time. Recommendations in the report titled “Digital Learning Now!” (PDF download) include abolishing seat-time requirements  and overhauling public school funding models – both of which are policy changes long overdue in … Continue reading Digital Learning Now