Aorakinet, Cantatech & WestNet Collaboration Project/ideas on blended learning

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Project Outline

A complete project proposal and outcomes in tabular form are also available.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of this proposal is to personalise learning for students and provide a framework for teachers and schools to enable innovative teaching across the three clusters
We will personalise learning by:

  • Enabling teachers and learners to construct blended learning programmes of study .
  • Giving learners choices over how their courses are taught .
  • Challenging school structures and systems.

We will develop a framework for innovative teaching by:

  • Developing teacher leaders.
  • Nurturing communities of practise and distributed departments.
  • Promoting collaborative course development and innovative teaching.
  • Providing professional learning to teachers in the areas of pedagogy and technology.

We are proposing a programme of professional learning and dialogue that will enable teachers and schools to develop an approach to teaching and learning that will motivate and engage learners.

Rationale for blended learning.png


Personalised 21st Century learning in the Southern Central Divide Cluster (SCDC) will be strategically established through this project. This will be achieved through a nominated
group of teachers adopting a collaborative blended learning approach to their face-to-face teaching. Learners in the schools of Aorakinet, Cantatech and WestNet will be team-taught by
teachers in departments distributed across these schools and supported by their communities. Teacher learning will be facilitated through the adoption of a model of professional learning that focuses on developing communities of practice. The values that will drive the programme are: choice for learners, professional collaboration and pedagogical innovation. Our vision is one of personalising learning in order to increase the engagement of learners. "Personalising learning involves thinking about knowledge as an active process. Students get to be informed, active participants in their own learning, they contribute to decisions about what learning can work best for them, and they have a much better understanding of how they are progressing." (Steve Maharey, 20061)

The blended learning programme will include

  • Face-to-face learning.
  • Web-based learning.
  • Opportunity to work individually.
  • The ability to work with other learners from their own school and other schools.
  • The Flexibility to learn where and when they want.

From the learners perspective this will result in greater choice of learning opportunities for face-to-face and distance learning students. From the perspective of teachers and schools, greater collaboration will result in reflective practice, shared understanding and expertise and greater resiliency than is currently the case. The proposed model will be scaleable
and sustainable. The clusters have existing mature relationships and are ready to start the programme immediately.  The technologies we will use at the outset of the programme, Moodle, Mahara, Google Apps, eXe and Wikieducator are well-established, scaleable and ready for cluster use at no cost.  During the latter part of the programme, as connectivity between schools improves, we will introduce desktop web-conferencing to the blended learning courses. This will also allow professional learning to take place 'just in time' and be more scaleable and efficient. The project clusters are individually well-established and have a history of successfully working together to improve learning outcomes. The management and leadership of the project is clearly defined with roles required for: project management, technology and professional learning. A steering group of school representatives will govern the project.

We are basing our professional learning model on the Connate Model for Teacher Centered Professional Teaching and Learning Development proposed by Moss2. Over a three year period 28 teachers will each participate in 31 days professional learning and form sustainable communities of practice that will evolve into virtual or distributed subject departments, supported by schools. The professional learning will be in the areas of pedagogy, learning design and collaborative teaching. This proposal is informed by the MOE's statement of intent, The New Zealand Curriculum, Personalising Learning, and Maori initiatives such Ka Hikitia and Te Kotahitanga.  The project will be led by three ePrincipals with expertise in project management, technology, professional learning and pedagogy. This project has strategic synergies with the MOE's MLE single sign-on work, the reusable and portable content project and a similar funding proposal by OtagoNet/DunedinNet. A risk analysis of this proposal has been conducted. The financial and progress reporting will be made available to all stakeholders. The budget required for the proposal is $533,374 excluding G.S.T. of which the M.O.E. will contribute $350,000.

Organisational layer

Organisational layer for BL.png

Application Layer

Application layer.png

Blended Course Vision

Blended course vision.png


Financial Information

The Proposed Budget for the project is approximatel $614,000 including G.S.T.  The MOE will contribute $355,000 plus G.S.T. during 2010-2012.  Cluster schools will contribute the remainder, mainly in the form of facilitator staffing. Special rates have also been negotiated with the University of Canterbury to support this initiative for 21st century blended teaching and learning.

Documents for Download

Forms for teachers  and schools to claim reimbursements are available here.

Contact Details

The SCD project is directed and faciliated by:

A list of teacher participants is also available.

Professional Development Programme


The model of professional learning we will adopt is built on developing communities of practice for participating teachers as shown in Figure 3. A community of practice is defined as "...groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing
basis." (Wenger, McDermott, Snyder, 2002, p.48) In the case of this project there is a clear focus for the community of practice right from the beginning, i.e., blended learning. We will facilitate good working relationships between the teachers so that everyone is comfortable in sharing ideas and practice. This will allow collaboration between teachers. Within the group teachers will share practice and discuss and develop their understanding of blended learning and effective pedagogy. Ongoing dialogue, both face to face and online, between teachers will be a key component of professional learning for the three years. Sometimes this will be guided by professional reading and other times by teacher experience. Various online tools such as Moodle, ePortfolios, and Google Apps will better enable teachers at a distance to learn together.

Professional Learning Model for project.png

Teacher learning will be facilitated by:

Teacher dialogue and Quality Learning Circles.
Ongoing professional conversations amongst the group will be a key component of their learning. When teachers have the opportunity to talk and share knowledge it often builds confidence amongst the group as a whole. Our vision for this dialogue rests on the "quality learning circle approach" adapted for New Zealand schools by Stewart and Prebble in 1993.
In quality learning circles a group of teachers meets regularly to discuss and share practice around a chosen theme. They feature:

  • Selection of a theme for exploration.
  • Discussion and storytelling within the group about experiences related to the theme.
  • Observation in classrooms to enhance the meaning of the stories.
  • Discussion of these observations in pairs and then with the whole group.
  • Sharing of examples of practice with the group.

(Lovett, 2002)
In this case the theme is blended learning and certain aspects of the model will be adapted (observations in class recorded or described, but also centering on observation of the learning online), but the common thread is ongoing teacher dialogue. When combined with reflective practice and professional reading QLC can be a very powerful form of adult learning. It is envisaged that the teacher groups will meet face-to-face each term and regularly throughout the year using synchronous (video or web-conferencing) and asynchronous (online forums, social networking) technologies. This will enable the discussion that was initiated face-toface, to continue on an ongoing and flexible basis. We see the face-to-face opportunities as a vital way to initiate and develop the relationship communities of practice online.

Sharing tacit knowledge
We recognise that much of the knowledge gained by teachers over time and through this project is not easily shared or transferred. This reinforces the importance of communities of practice which will build an effective model of teacher sharing and of observation of practice, both online and face-to-face.  Communities of practice encourage the development of a widening group of practitioners which will enhance the ongoing sustainability of the project.

Reflective practice
Time for quality reflection will be an important aspect of the professional learning. To help facilitate this all teachers will develop an ePortfolio that will act as an ongoing record of their learning. ePortfolios are a powerful resources for reflective practice and will also reinforce aspects of blended learning through the teachers using them in their own learning. The resources, ideas and experiences within the ePortfolio can be shared with the wider group, but more importantly, will enable teachers to reflect on their own practice.

Peer Coaching
The emphasis will be on the teachers learning from each other. While outside experts will be available, the core of the learning will come from the teachers acting as mentors for each
other. Many teachers underestimate their own knowledge and expertise. "Too many teachers assume that "experts" outside the classroom somehow know more than they do" (Routman, 2002). The notion of peer coaching acknowledges that teachers are experts and by sharing and coaching each other much can be gained.

Professional Reading
Many teachers regard theory as something removed from the reality of the classroom and not important to their day-to-day job, but access to theory and professional reading is important for reflective practice. Much of the discussion amongst the various groups of teachers will be informed by professional reading, but more importantly, it will then be able to applied to practice. There is often a signifcant gap between what the theory says and actual teacher practice. The quality learning circle approach allows theory to be read, reflected upon, discussed and then applied in practice.

Access to experts
While the professional learning is centred on teacher interaction there is still a place for outside experts to be involved. This may come at the various face-to-face meetings held over the three year period or through ongoing online support. The ePrincipals themselves will be able to guide the teachers, but outside experts will also be involved. The proposed partnership between the University of Canterbury and teachers involved in this project will enable elements of outside expertise to be harnessed.


Schools will perform a vital role in supporting the professional learning of the teachers on an individual basis. While the teachers will have ongoing support from the community of practice, each school will also have the responsiblity to support their teacher on site. This will involve; providing opportunities for ongoing dialogue and reflection with other teachers and senior management within the school, supporting the teacher's online learning with technical support to ensure connectivity, and allowing the teacher release time to attend the face-to-face professional learning opportunities. We recognise that it is extremely important that the knowledge gained by the teachers over time is harnessed by the school in an organised and ongoing fashion. We do not hope for some 'trickle down' effect where other teachers adopt blended learning practices, out of sheer curiosity. We anticipate each teacher playing a key role in bringing about further personalisation of learning for the school's students, by facilitating the learning of a small programme for these teachers and integrated into the school's wider strategic plan related to ICT or eLearning. Each teacher will have a group of their own school's teachers set up as both a support network and as another professional learning community where knowledge can be shared. In a way, it is the quality learning circle approach used within their own school. These teachers can then implement elements of blended learning into their own classroom, reflect and share practice on an ongoing basis. The professional learning will not be at the level of the cluster group, but this approach will ensure that each teacher has an impact on the personalisation of students' learning within their own school.

Tertiary Qualifications - Partnership with the University of Canterbury

The professional learning of the teachers will be developed in partnership with the University of Canterbury who have offered to work with the teachers in developing their online courses
collaboratively. The teachers and their schools will have the option of linking their learning to existing eLearning papers offered by the University and thereby gain useful qualifications. Participating educators will build a blended personalised online Community Of Practice while working on this project and studying a pair of online courses, starting with "Best practices in online learning and teaching" (EDEM628-X10) in April 2010. Successful completion of the two courses earns a Postgraduate Certificate in Education in 2012. Strategic use of assessments will support the project's formative evaluation as well as earning credit for the individual contributions. For example, an early assessment item is a report of an institutional review of blended online learning and teaching, which will be supported by the course activities and resources, as well as the three e-principals.

This partnership with the University of Canterbury will enable us to utilise the existing expertise at the university (Niki Davis, Julie Mackey, Donna Morrow, Nicki Dabner, Susan Tull) in the form of mentoring and research. We will also prepare to involve student teachers from the University in the project and later online teaching and learning. The project's teachers will be invited to host field experience for preservice and in-service teachers so that this new mode of personalised schooling that blends traditional schooling with online education becomes better understood. Currently there are many misconceptions about online learning and teaching.

Year Programme Aims Activities Professional Learning
October-December 2009 * Initialise the programme

* Programme teachers identified
  • Year One programme finalised

2010 * Develop communities of practice
  • Teachers to exchange ideas, experiences and resources

* PL on pedagogy
  • PL on technologies used
  • Professional readings and meetings
  • Teachers develop own blended learning courses
  • Identify ’Teacher Leaders’

Per teacher (total 28 teachers)
  • 10 days face-to-face
  • 2 days virtual

2011 * Initiate collaborative delivery of blended learning courses
  • Consolidate progress made so far

* PL on pedagogy
  • PL on technologies used
  • Professional readings and meetings
  • Collaborative blended learning courses developed by teachers
  • Distributed Departments meet

Per teacher (total 28 teachers)
  • 5 days face-to-face
  • 7 days virtual

2012 * Embed and refine models of delivery and learning
  • Further develop Distributed Departments

* PL on pedagogy
  • PL on technologies used
  • Professional readings and meetings
  • Collaborative blended learning courses developed by teachers
  • Personalised courses developed
  • Distributed Departments meet
  • Sustainability planning

Per teacher (total 28 teachers)
  • 2 days face-to-face
  • 5 days virtual

Programme Plan: March 2010

Date: March 22 – 25

Venue: Canterbury University Campus - College of Education (Dovedale Ave) Otakaro (Avon) Building: starting on Otakaro Room 233 on Monday morning


  • Everyone should bring their laptop
  • All teachers will need to be prepared to share an area of interest or expertise.
  • Documentation to bring for enrolment into postgraduate certificate: Your original Academic transcript (undergraduate degree) if you have one, passport photo page or birth certificate, marriage certificate if your name has changed since gaining your degree
  • Pen and paper if the technology fails us!
  • Plus a sense of humour!

Day One Monday

Arrive 09:00 for 09:30 Otakaro Room 233

  • 9:30 Orientation TS DS VS [intro: Articulate the vision, get set up on network housekeeping - co construct elements of the 4 days [modelling best practice] Group activity
  • 10 - 10:30 Professor Niki Davis - course work, building teaching, reading and evaluating
  • 10:30 - 11 TS VS DS Introduce yourself and housekeeping plus network setup activity
  • 11 - 11:20 morning tea
  • 11:20 - 12:30 TS Group reflection: what needs to change with the system? what needs to change in my own school? what needs to change with my own practice?
  • 12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
  • 1:30 -3:30 DS Tool set : work on mahara add reflection and/or course work
  • Afternoon break 3:15 - 3:30 at your leisure
  • 3:30 -4:30ish VS 7x9: 7 min presentations by each of the participants in an informal style - on any thing they wish to share - broad theme of how they encourage collaboration in their students - all have to pre-prepare names out of a hat

Day Two Tuesday
Otakaro Room 243 (can also use Otakaro Room 222)

  • 9 - 9:30 VS Forum regroup/feedback/confirm process
  • 9:30 - 11 VS TS DS Tool set session one: We split into groups and learn to use an web based tool. Facilitated by one person who has some experience with that tool.  Suggested tools Barcamp style - Beginners Moodle, Advanced Moodle, Google Apps, eXe, Wikieducator, collaborative web 2.0 tools, other web 2.0 tools by suggestion
  • 11 - 11:20 morning tea
  • 11:20 - 12:30 own work
  • 12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
  • 1:30 - 3:30 VS DS TS Tool set session two
  • Afternoon break 3:15 - 3:30 at your leisure
  • 3.10 - 3.30 feedback and concerns
  • 3:30 -4:30ish TS 7x9

Day Three Wednesday
Otakaro Room 205

  • 9-10 Speaker: Wayne Mackintosh followed by group discussion on collaboration(Vicki picks up Wayne from Airport)
  • 10 – 11 DS Portfolio and planning process – Sharing of project objectives, individual planning around objectives
  • 11 - 11:20 morning tea
  • 11:20 - 12:30 Tool set / planning
  • 12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
  • 1.30 -2.30 TS Tool set  / planning- continued
  • 2.30-3.30 Niki Davis on Learn, and course work
  • Afternoon break 3:15 - 3:30 at your leisure
  • 3.30 -4:30ish DS 7x9

Day Four Thursday

Otakaro Room 205

  • now - morning tea - What to do next - when you are in your school - support mechanisms 7*9 finish  Niki - UC stuff
  • 11:00-11:20 morning tea
  • 11:20 -11:30 Admin/paperwork (after morning )tea
  • 11:30 - 12:30Derek Wenmoth (confirmed by skype) / Toolset
  • 12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
  • 1:30 - 3:00 Toolset
  • 3:00 - 3:15 Plenary
  • 3:15 afternoon tea and depart

Evaluation - end of four days have in an ePortfolio, the artefact of your 7x7 - formed a group and created a shared view, and a plan about how to assist each other in the development of the project within your schools and across the cluster.