Engaging and Extending

Teachers at my school are amazing.   They, like many other teachers, have coped with a huge amount of change. Scarcely has one new intiative been incorporated into already busy schedules than another is introduced.  There is little time to assimilate, practise and embed.  Two years ago we introduced a BYOD programme and we focused our Professional Learning on blending technology with effective pedagogy.  This year the plan was to have some time to consolidate what we had explored last year.  Then GAFE came along and we had to put plans on hold.  After three years of pushing for the school to adopt GAFE, all of a sudden we got the go ahead and we were determined to make sure that our teachers and admin staff were as well-trained as possible.  Term 1 was spent learning how to manage gmail, Google calendars, and Docs.  As you can imagine, some people took it and ran with it, others, are still feeling overwhelmed!  However, they continue to be positive and motivated as we have continued to support and develop.

Last week we had some really rich discussion looking at the eLearning Planning Framework with our teachers.  The eLearning Planning Framework is “a tool to help schools and teachers measure eLearning capability.  It can support regular self-review and subsequent improvement of eLearning skills and knowledge, in ways that reflect our bi-cultural heritage”.  As we started our journey on the eLearning road 3 years ago our BLING group explored the eLPF and put ourselves at the Emerging level for most areas, definitely Pre-emerging at some areas and with pockets of Engaging in terms of individual teachers using and embedding technology in their teaching programmes.

After two years of professional learning focused on exploring how technology can be blended with pedagogy we thought it was timely to look at the eLPF as a whole teaching staff. My motto for this year’s professional learning sessions has been “short and snappy”. Whilst we finish early every Wednesday afternoon to allow time for professional learning we are conscious still that our teachers are under huge pressure.  Last week Junior reports were due the next day and so a short, meaningful, engaging session was called for.

The objectives of this session were:

  • to introduce the eLearning Planning Framework to teachers
  • to examine where we sit as a school within the framework
  • to identify what we need to do next


In cross-curricular groups of four with a facilitator, a recorder and a set of colour-coded descriptor statements from the eLPF, the aim was to choose one statement from each colour that they thought best described where we sat as a school.  This was a quick 5 minute, gut reaction activity to get a very quick snapshot.  The recorder transferred the group’s choices onto a shared Google Doc.


After a brief opportunity to share the groups then had 30 minutes to look in more depth at one of the sections of the eLPF.  We had taken out Technology and Infrastructure so the remaining 4 sections were randomly distributed to the 14 groups.  Our Senior Leadership team worked in a group together to nut out the Leadership and Strategic Direction section.  The idea was that we would get a broad idea of  where we sat without having to spend a lot of time going through the whole document.  We asked the groups to consider where we were as a a school but also to reflect where they were on a personal level as they talked.  The discussions that ensued were engaging, at times quite heated, and very robust.  It was fascinating listening to them and joining in as I circulated.  It was also very tempting to let them keep going but, conscious of time, we kept to our schedule.

Human Bar Chart

Time to get up and move around!  The groups were asked to look at the complete page 3 from which the statements for the first activity had been cut.  They reflected on the statements they had originally chosen and then looked at where they had assessed us to be in their particular focus section to see if it was the same.  Then they came with a “label” for their section and stood on our “stair-o-meter” – Pre-emerging at the bottom of the stairs and Empowering at the top.  I think you will agree that the results were fairly unanimous!  We are engaging!


teachers standing on stairs indictaing where they syand on the elearning Planning Framework from emerging to empowering

Reading the summaries of the discussions that were shared with us via their Google Docs painted a much more detailed picture.  We think that maybe our teachers are just too hard on themselves!  For many of the aspects within their sections they suggested that there were elements of extending and the examples they gave to justify their viewpoints were robust and very valid.

For those that are interested, here is a copy of the plan for the session.

We followed up this session with a discussion document for the respective faculties to look at in the Learning Area PL slot the following week.

#edcmooc Maintaining Momentum

remnants of old railway lines in a hatch formation

Nearly the end of Week 3, it has been a full-on week at work and I am struggling to marshall my thoughts.  I have managed to snatch ten minutes here and there to watch the videos for this week and scan the readings at a very superficial level. I really wanted to try to create a photo for the Flickr project but just haven’t had the time to be creative.  Never mind, I will try to catch up a little in the next couple of days.

It has been interesting watching the dynamics of the interchanges in the discussions and  Twitter chat; I have tried to avoid Facebook as I felt a need to filter so as not to be overwhelmed. It seems to me, as a newcomer, that some people have made MOOCs their home and are involved in several of them all at once.  They have already forged tight knit friendship groups, comment on each others blogs and engage in chat on Twitter in quite an intimate manner. Others may only have “met” since the beginning of this course but they connected early on and formed groups to blog together.  Others, like me, maybe observers, hovering not quite at the edge but gaining confidence, commenting occasionally, following blogs and feeling empowered when I get a notification that someone has “liked” my blog or comment, or even more exciting when there is a comment, a “follow” or a pingback!

It is interesting in the context of our discussions around humanism, the theme of disconnection, and the impersonal aspect of technology, the relationships that have formed.  It is highly likely that if these people had met “face to face”, on the street, in a university seminar, at a sports club, they would have formed the same bonds of friendship.  As human beings we are drawn to people who have similar ideas to us, similar likes, interests, dislikes be that online or in the “real” world.  I hesitate to use the phrase “real world” because the online world is becoming so much part of our everyday experiences now that it is essentially the “real world”.  The blurring of the lines is ever more blurry.

So, I need to maintain the momentum I had in the first two weeks; I have so many half-formed ideas whizzing round my head that I really need some time out to think them through.  I have had moments of doubt and feelings of inadequacy when I read some of the more esoteric, very academic comments made on the blogs and discussion boards; how can my thoughts possibly have any meaning or value?  But I also read lots of posts that concur with my ideas and reactions to the videos and I feel affirmed and more confident about that.  So, I will bumble along in my own way, reading, digesting, watching and occasionally throwing my twopenn’orth in.