Aorakinet-Cantatech Collaboration Project/Southern Central Divide Regional Educational Cluster/Southern Central Divide Blended Learning Proposal

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Southern Central Divide Blended Learning Proposal By

Vicki Smith ePrincipal WestNet Trevor Storr ePrincipal Aorakinet Darren Sudlow ePrincipal Cantatech

March 5, 2010



Broadband Investment Initiative


Extending Higher Standards Across Schools


Hyper Text Markup Language


Information and Communication Technologies


Information and Communication Technology Professional Development


IMS Global Learning Consortium


Learning Management System


Managed Learning Environment


Ministry of Education


Professional Learning


Quality Learning Circles


Sharable Content Object Reference Model


School Management Systems


Single Sign On


University of Canterbury


Video Conferencing


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1 Executive Summary

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, 2006[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south2.html#fn1x0 1])

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 Moss[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south3.html#fn2x0 2]. 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.

2 Introduction

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.

3 Programme and Cluster History

3.1 Background Information

The project clusters are individually well-established and have a history of successfully working together to improve learning outcomes. The clusters and cluster schools not only recognise the value of collaboration, but actively seek opportunities to work with others. Starting with Cantatech (1994), WestNet (2003) and then Aorakinet (2007) the cluster schools have collaborated to provide distance-learning programmes for their learners, from audio-graphic applications through to video-conferencing. It is quite usual for a student in, for example, Aorakinet to be part of a virtual class that includes members from schools in WestNet and Cantatech which is taught by a teacher from any one of the three clusters. The three ePrincipals have a history of successfully working together over the last 18 months and have collaborated recently (along with the Otagonet ePrincipal) to design, organise and implement a regional scholarship mentoring initiative. This is enabling scholarship candidates to receive mentoring from ’expert’ teachers in preparation for scholarship examinations.

Each ePrincipal has well-established relationships with their cluster schools and is able to recognise and respond to the diverse requirements of each school. This means that our efforts will be focused entirely on the task in-hand rather than on operational problems.

The current funding of ePrincipal positions within the clusters is 2/3 MOE and 1/3 school contributions. For 2010 the positions will be funded wholly by the cluster schools. The long-term sustainability of the clusters is being addressed with the three clusters actively working to form a super-cluster to reduce areas of unnecessary duplication of resources, gain efficiencies of scale and formalise the evolving partnerships. An example of a current project to reduce duplication and gain efficiencies of scale is the development of a shared LMS for the three clusters. Educo[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south4.html#fn3x0 3] is a Moodle site designed to replace the existing individual cluster Moodles. The rationale for this is that teachers will find collaboration easier and communities of practice are more likely to form if the pool of potential members is larger. Additionally, the effort and cost required to run one shared Moodle will be much less than running three separate cluster Moodles.

3.2 Cluster and Programme Challenges

The greatest challenge to the clusters is ensuring the significant progress made by individual teachers (e.g. in having changed pedagogical style as a result of VC teaching) is shared with, and acted upon by other teachers in school. To an extent, the problem has been amplified by the distance education nature of video-conferencing teaching. The proposed project will demonstrate the worth of blended learning to all teachers, not just those associated with a distance education programme.

3.3 Cluster Data

The programme schools, school roll, decile, percentage Maori on roll and estimated percentage of students with internet access at home are shown in table 1 and figure 1 shows a map of the location of the clusters. The cluster schools are located in the area covered by the following District Councils: Waimate, Timaru, McKenzie, Ashburton, Selwyn, Waimakariri, Hurunui, Westland, Grey, Buller and Tasman. They are predominantly small, provincial or rural schools.

Table 1: Cluster School Data

School Decile Roll
% Maori on Roll
Estimate % of pupils with home internet access

Akaroa Area school 8 125
Amuri Area School 8 268
Ashburton College 7 1126
Buller High School 3 357
Cheviot Area School 7 176
Craighead Diocesan School 9 326
Darfield High School 8 722
Ellesmere College 8 520
Geraldine High School 8 605
Greymouth High School 4 624
Hurunui College 7 257
John Paul II High School 4 143
Karamea Area School 5 93
Mackenzie College 7 193
Mountainview High School 6 547
Mount Hutt College 8 525
Murchison Area School 4 158
Opihi College 5 385
Oxford Area School 7 466
Rangiora New Life School 8 309
Reefton Area School 3 206
Roncalli College 6 499
South Westland Area School 4 117
St Kevin’s College 7 431
Timaru Boys’ High School 7 658
Timaru Girls’ High School 5 443
Twizel Area School 8 165
Waimate High School 4 370
Waitaki Girls’ High School 6 463
Westland High School 6 449


Central south0x.png

Figure 1: Location of the Southern Main Divide Clusters

4 Proposed Programme

4.1 Introduction

Phoebe Storr, born 11 August, 1997


In 2013, Phoebe will be in Year 11. She can expect to have, with a single log in, access to an online space that includes:

⋅ An online learning environment that has blended learning courses developed by her face-to-face teachers, but also allows her to take courses that she would not otherwise have access to. These courses enable learning where she wants, when she wants and how she needs it.

⋅ Desktop web-conferencing through an open source platform which allows access to synchronous lessons led by her teacher living a considerable distance away. This also provides opportunities for her to meet and collaborate with other students across the country.

⋅ An online portfolio system which enables her to display evidence of learning.

Any learner in 2013 will expect to have enormous flexibility and choice to develop their own educational pathways. They have a situation that is truly ’personalised’. Their school has been forced to consider the ’big’ questions about the future of education and their role in it. They now run a flexible, open timetable system that is not ruled by hour long periods. Learners wonder how different things will be in another five years time.

Now imagine you are a teacher in 2013. You have access to a rich environment, which allows courses to be developed that are truly blended. You have made online areas that support your face to face classes, but you are also running a course by distance that is fully online and is taken by a number of students from around the country. Significantly, there are also online areas which allow you to work with other teachers across New Zealand. This has enabled you to develop thematic courses than run across schools and regions. In this environment you see a marked increase in student engagement. The students enjoy the opportunity to meet and work with others. In terms of your own learning this environment has had a significant impact. A repository and search system allows you to share your resources with hundreds of teachers across New Zealand. You have access to an enormous range of resources that are relevant to your teaching. Professional discussion occurs both synchronously and asynchronously and takes place across the country. You are able to dip into courses that are designed to support your own learning. Your eyes have been opened to the enormous potential of learning in a collaborative environment. The wonderful thing is you are no longer tied to a timetable that restricts how you and your students learn.

Figure 2 shows values that underpin this proposal, which are: choice for learners, community and pedagogical innovation. A brief explanation of each value follows.

Proposal Values

Figure 2. Proposal Values

  • Choice: The clusters place great value in giving learners the freedom to choose what, where, when and crucially, how they learn. By affording learners the opportunity to ’personalise’ their learning, the clusters aim to develop learners who actively participate in all aspects of their education.
  • Community: The clusters know that provincial and rural schools need to ensure that teachers are not professionally isolated. Dialogue with colleagues can lead to critical reflection of teaching practice, sharing of expertise, support and knowledge. The three clusters have a shared and common history of working together to benefit cluster teachers and learners. As members of the Virtual Learning Network the clusters have established a culture of collaboration demonstrated by the following initiatives: delivering and receiving NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3 courses and others by video-conferencing, developing a sustainable programme for scholarship mentoring of Y13 students, continuing to develop a shared LMS, cross-cluster programmes such as EHSAS and ICTPD and finally, excellent working relationships between ePrincipals and Principals including shared cluster meetings.
  • Pedagogical innovation: Clusters and cluster schools understand the need to change systems and practice in order to provide the best educational opportunities for our learners. The clusters acknowledge that technological developments can be used to reinforce traditional teaching systems and methods as well as enable better, more relevant means of learning.

Figure 2: Proposal ValuesFile:Central south1x.png

4.2 Programme Rationale

4.2.1 Aims

The programme aims to develop a collaborative, blended learning community of practice across cluster schools. From the learners perspective this will result in greater choice of modes of learning for face-to-face and distance learning students. The proposed model will be scaleable and sustainable.

4.2.2 Blended learning

Blended learning refers to learning that combines a range of methods, techniques and resources to enable learning. The Rochester Institute of Technology reported in the “Blended Learning Pilot Project: Final Report for the Academic Year 2003–2004” that "blended learning aims to join the best of classroom teaching and learning with the best of online teaching and learning." (Rochester Institute, 2004[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south5.html#fn4x0 4]). Royer,( 2004[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south6.html#fn5x0 5]) defines blended learning as: “Multiple learning strategies or methods with a variety of media. In contemporary terms, learning strategies and media typically include aspects of face-to-face instruction and online (or distance) learning, in combination with a rich variety of learning strategies or dimensions." It is also often used to indicate a combination of face-to-face and web-based delivery methods but can also refer to the type of learning being promoted e.g. constructionism, cognitivism, behaviourism.

4.2.3 Project interpretation of blended learning

For the purposes of this project, we are defining blended learning in terms of the learners experience which will include elements of face-to-face and web-based learning, opportunity to work individually, with other learners from their own school and other schools, and the flexibility to learn where and when they want. Our definition combines the best elements of face-to-face and distance education models. From the perspective of cluster schools and teachers, this model is intentionally challenging to both school systems and classroom practice.

4.2.4 Links to Statement of Intent

The proposed programme is linked to the MOE’s Statement of Intent 2009-2014 in the following ways:

  • Priority Outcome 3: "Every young person has the skills and qualifications to contribute to their and New Zealand’s future" - by increasing motivation and engagement through providing a personalised learning environment.
  • Priority outcome 2: "Every child achieves literacy and numeracy levels that enable their success" - by improving teaching and learning in the Mathematics and English subject areas.
  • Priority outcome 5: "Maori enjoying education success as Maori" - by providing opportunities for teachers to collaborate in designing and delivering blended learning courses in te reo Maori.
4.2.5 Links to Other Initiatives

The New Zealand Curriculum The revised curriculum places the students at the centre of learning, as does this proposal.

The revised New Zealand Curriculum signals a dramatic change in the way schools operate in terms of their core function - learning. It gives schools the flexibility to devise a school based curriculum, one that reflects the needs of their students and communities with which they engage. Local communities play an important part in their school’s curriculum design and this project would support the development of such a curriculum. Students also belong to ’21st Century communities’. These stretch beyond regional, geographic or national boundaries. In the world we live the idea of connectivity is paramount. For a country as geographically isolated as New Zealand, it is even more important. One of the revised curriculum’s consistent themes is connectivity. It is part of the vision outlined early in the document, “...who will be confident, connected, actively involved and lifelong learners”. The same page refers to students being “members of communities” and both the principles and values underpinning the curriculum emphasise the importance of communities. Schools involved in this project are rural and often isolated. Despite this they are members of a number of different communities that go beyond their local district. Until now video-conferencing has provided much of the connectivity that these schools need, but this is a limited resource. Through the use of varied online technologies this project will enable a type of learning that will connect learners on a scale that provides real meaning to the term ’21st Century learning’.

In terms of effective pedagogy, the curriculum clearly expects teachers to facilitate “shared learning” with their students. The aim being to develop the class as a community and for students to share their learning with each other. This project would enable learning to be developed far beyond what is conceivable in a traditional classroom and is built on a social constructionist philosophy in which learners and the teacher construct knowledge together. Learners from different schools could engage, discuss and reflect using social networking technology such as forums and chat rooms, as well as through web or video-conferencing. It would allow knowledge to be constructed across classrooms and schools, which would provide real “coherence” to learning.

The curriculum also targets eLearning as an aspect of effective pedagogy:

‘For instance, e-learning may:

  • Assist the making of connections by enabling students to enter and explore new learning environments, overcoming barriers of distance and time.
  • Facilitate shared learning by enabling students to join or create communities of learners that extend well beyond the classroom.
  • Assist in the creation of supportive learning environments by offering resources that take account of individual, cultural, or developmental differences.
  • Enhance opportunities to learn by offering students virtual experiences and tools that save them time, allowing them to take their learning further.
  • Schools should explore not only how ICT can supplement traditional ways of teaching but also how it can open up new and different ways of learning.’

This project clearly enables teachers and learners to do all of the above.

The revised curriculum demands to see learners who are ’connected’, ’actively involved’ and ’lifelong learners’. Our schools plan to improve competencies such as ’managing self’ and ’participating’, develop a curriculum that embodies principles such as ’learning to learn’ and ’community engagement’. They are also required to foster values such ’innovation, inquiry and curiosity’. A model of learning that allows students to develop their own learning pathways, to self-manage, to connect and collaborate with others will reinforce the core elements of the revised curriculum.

Personalising Learning In 2006 the term “personalising learning” was at the forefront of Ministry’s “Lets talk about: Personalising Learning”[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south7.html#fn6x0 6]. The ideas within the document are aligned with the revised curriculum, but currently most schools struggle to implement these. They are restricted by structures that reflect 20th century needs. The ability to ’personalise’ learning is one of the real strengths of this project. The notion of learning ’anyplace, anytime, anywhere’ is the real value here.

The ICT Strategic Framework for Education from 2006-7[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south8.html#fn7x0 7] articulated a vision: “To improve learner achievement in an innovative education sector, fully connected and supported by the smart use of ICT.” This was supported by goals including “ A more learner-centred education system transcending organisational boundaries.” This goal is perfectly realised by our proposal which allows for flexibility of learning and connectivity across schools and regions.

Initiatives for Maori Students Links to Maori education may be less obvious and are therefore worth examining in detail.

Ka Hikitia The MOE recently released a new strategy for Maori students entitled, ‘Ka Hikitia - Managing for Success: The Maori Education Strategy 2008-2012’. This strategy is based on realising Maori potential, and at its heart lies the idea of ‘Ako’, an approach to teaching and learning that embraces two key themes. The first theme recognises that the relationship between the educator and learner is integral to achieving quality educational outcomes - ‘Maori students, whänau, hapü, iwi and educators sharing knowledge and expertise with each other to produce better mutual outcomes.’ The second key theme recognises the importance of allowing Maori to learn as Maori and that the student’s culture is embraced by the teacher and school. At the secondary level the strategy recognises that the engagement of Maori students is critical to their educational success.

Te Kotahitanga The Te Kotahitanga research programme began in 2000 and was developed to improve teaching strategies and in particular the effectiveness of teachers to increase the engagement and academic achievement of Maori students within mainstream secondary schools. The first phase of the programme commenced in 2000 with a research project. After the collation and analysis of narratives from Year 9 and 10 Maori students, a professional development programme was developed and implemented in four schools. In 2002, the findings were used to inform a professional development programme which was introduced into eight more secondary schools.

One of the key areas identified for improving Maori success in education is effective teaching and learning. In particular, how a teacher builds relationships with students and develops strategies involving collaboration and co-construction.

Links to this proposal The percentage of Maori students in each school is shown in Table [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south.html#x1-8001r1 1]. Clearly, Maori are a significant consideration in every school. The successful implementation of Ka Hikitia will be important for the students and local the Maori community

The learning that will enabled by this project is built on the philosophy of co-construction and many of the tools available in this environment allow teachers and learners to build knowledge together in a partnership. It encourages the sort of learning that both Ka Hikitia and Te Kotahitanga outline as important for Maori success in education. While many seem to think anything online represents a disconnection in relationships, this is far from the truth. Technology allows individuals and communities to connect on a scale not possible without it.

Professional learning is a key ingredient for improving teaching and learning for Maori students. This project will enable collaboration and professional learning between staff across clusters and schools. Using synchronous and asynchronous technology a framework for ongoing discussion on what strategies work for Maori students will build on the links that already exist between the cluster schools and national initiatives.

4.3 Programme Plan

4.3.1 Overview

Table [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south.html#x1-24001r2 2] shows an overview of the PL programme. A blended learning approach will be adopted within and across subject areas. The focus will be in finding the appropriate teachers rather than concentrating on particular subject areas. This will allow flexibility in identification of teachers and allow a mix of both, subject based and integrated learning. Each school will provide one teacher to participate in the programme. Those selected to participate in the project will have enthusiasm for eLearning (in the context of taking learning online, rather than learning by distance), a foundation level of ICT knowledge, and have shown innovation in their teaching practice.

Table 2: Summary of Proposed Programme

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

4.3.2 Professional Learning Model


File:Central south2x.png

Professional Learning Model for project.png

Figure 3: Professional Learning Model (adapted from the Connate Model of Moss)

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.4[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south9.html#fn8x0 8]) 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.

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[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south10.html#fn9x0 9] 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[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south11.html#fn10x0 10])

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-to-face, 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[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south12.html#fn11x0 11]). 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 significant 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 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 group of staff in their school. This can be developed as part of the professional development 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. The proposed partnership will enable us to utilise the existing expertise at the university (Nikki Davis, Julie McKay, Nicki Dabner) in the form of mentoring and research. We will also look to involve teacher trainees from the University in the project.

In the final year the project’s lead teachers will be invited to host field experience for pre-service 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[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south13.html#fn12x0 12].

4.3.3 Year One

Aim: To develop a community of practice of teachers capable of providing professional learning in their own school during years two and three of the project. The aim of the first year is is to establish a community of practice amongst the teachers that will enable effective collaboration in the following years. The community of teachers will focus on developing pedagogical practice in a blended learning environment. All teachers will develop a blended learning approach with at least one of their classes, but not yet with another teacher(s). Much of the early part of the year will be focused on establishing teacher collaboration which will develop into full working relationships. Collaboration in the first year, will be in the form of the exchange of ideas, experiences and resources in the development of individual processes.

Once teachers have been identified they will spend three days together in the first term exploring the pedagogy and technologies required. The three days will also be an integral part of developing a community of practice that will be ongoing and teacher driven. It is vital that teachers are able to direct their own learning and feed off each others’ experiences and knowledge. Meeting face-to-face is an important part the initial establishment of the teachers’ community of practice. Once the pedagogy has been embedded teachers will spend time developing courses through the various online technologies that will enable a blended learning approach. After the initial three days teachers will continue to advance their knowledge of both the pedagogy and the technology asynchronously and synchronously through ongoing discussion, readings, and tutorials using various online technologies. The teachers will experience a blended approach through their own learning.


  • Each teacher has a blended course online.
  • Each teacher has developed the necessary technological skills to take a blended approach to learning.
  • Communities of practice have been developed by the teachers.
  • "Teacher Leaders" have been identified for distributed leadership roles.
4.3.4 Year Two

Aims: To initiate collaborative delivery and learning models of blended learning. To consolidate the expertise gained during phase one. What teachers have learned in the first year will be applied to a collaborative blended learning model in the second. The working relationships and learning established in year one will allow the delivery of courses involving peer teaching between schools and enable collaborative learning for both students and teachers as shown in Figure 4. Teachers will meet face to face at the beginning of the year to re-establish the project goals and their own working relationships. In this time they will be able to refine the design of their online courses. Professional learning will be developed online and through the various working groups maintaining dialogue, both online and face to face.

Blended course vision.png
Figure 4: Collaborative Blended Learning


  • Collaborative blended learning courses are established.
  • Courses are developed that run across schools involving at least two teachers and at least two groups of students.
  • Courses are both subject based and integrated.
  • A community of practice has been developed from which to build leadership for future sustainability.
  • Professional Learning is being led by ’Teacher Leaders’.
4.3.5 Year Three

Aims: To further embed and refine collaborative delivery and models of blended learning.

The last year will focus on consolidation of expertise. Well-developed communities of practice will enable the establishment of blended courses that allow personalisation of learning. A focus for professional learning will be pedagogical practice and enabling personalisation of learning for students.

Teachers will meet face-to-face at the beginning of the year, but will get less time face-to-face over the course of the year. It is expected that by this time that working relationships have been firmly established and much of the collaboration will occur online through synchronous and asynchronous technologies. There will be flexibility in how teachers want to use the time they have for professional learning.


  • Blended learning courses are established that enable personalised learning for students.
  • All courses have developed student learning communities that cross schools.
  • Sustainable teacher leadership has been embedded as a result of collaboration over time, a wider cohort of teachers are being continually inculcated into the programme.

4.4 Sustainability of the programme

4.4.1 Introduction

The involvement of the three clusters in this programme will improve the sustainability of the community of practice due to being able to draw upon a large pool of teachers and three ePrincipal leaders. Sharing of the expertise developed will be made possible by the formation of virtual or distributed subject departments. Most of the schools in this proposal are small. Single teacher departments are common and are already working to bring teachers together in professional learning to together to share challenges, ideas, experiences and resources particularly with the advent of the NZC and the Standards Review.

Organisational layer for BL.png

Figure 5: Distributed Departments

4.4.2 Distributed Departments

The concept of distributed departments (see Figure [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south.html#x1-36001r5 5]) provides the services, support and collegiality already available to, for example, an Art Teacher at Rangitio College, Auckland, who has many colleagues available face-to-face on a daily basis, to those schools where there is a subject teacher who has no peer subject teachers within their school. Schools and Principals within the programme clusters are already beginning to consider the formal role of distributed departments within their school structures by addressing how a distributed department may change delegated time commitments for teachers.

Teachers engaged in Professional Learning sessions are currently collaborating online developing units of work. The UC Education Plus Advisors are instrumental here and these wider collaborative opportunities are greatly enhanced by the cluster cohort not competing for access to these services.

4.4.3 Open Content

Materials produced by this project will be licensed under a license which meets the free cultural works definition [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south14.html#fn13x0 13] i.e. a Creative Commons By Attribution License (BY) or Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License (BY-SA) . Additionally we will encourage teachers to release work produced by themselves under the same licenses. This will result in greater transparency, promotion of collaboration and ultimately sustainability of the cluster.

4.5 Technology Requirements of the Programme

We propose a suite of software that will meet or could be adapted to meet the following requirements:

⋅ Allow online courses to be developed that meet sound pedagogical principles.

⋅ Allow teachers to share and collaborate in the production and use of teaching resources and professional learning.

⋅ Allow participants to create eportfolios that are freely viewable by parents and other parties who have the learner’s consent.

⋅ Provide desktop video-conferencing and shared whiteboard facilities.

⋅ Be interoperable with relevant SMS systems in order that learner enrollment to the MLE is a transparent process.

⋅ Allow parents and caregivers to access appropriate learner data.

⋅ Be open standards compliant to enable interoperability with existing and yet to be developed applications.

⋅ Are web-based and fully functional using all common web browsers and are capable of being scaled appropriately.

⋅ Is capable of being integrated into a common framework so that users access the applications through a single point of authentication.

All the applications outlined in this proposal can be thought of as independent entities that can be combined together to provide a capable and fully-featured MLE. No single application has critical dependencies on any other application resulting in a range of services that can be adapted to our needs as they change.

4.5.1 The Software

Moodle, [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south15.html#fn14x0 14] Moodle is a course management system widely used overseas and in New Zealand. Moodle is designed to encourage a social constructionist pedagogy and is particularly rich in web2.0 type tools that allow learners to collaborate together in constructing knowledge while having the necessary ’traditional’ elements such as quizzes and ’lessons’. Moodle has a very large user and developer base which mitigates the risk of the software becoming unmaintained. Moodle is modular and its functionality is easily extended by installing additional modules. This allows SMS vendors to develop ways of allowing SMS systems to automatically enroll students on courses. Indeed, Kamar are presently developing a module to do this and the MOE’s MLE project is funding similar work for other SMS’s used in New Zealand schools.

Mahara, [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south16.html#fn15x0 15] Mahara is an open source e-portfolio, weblog, resume builder and social networking system, connecting users and creating online learner communities. Mahara is designed to provide users with the tools to demonstrate their life-long learning, skills and development over time to selected audiences. Mahara means ’think’ or ’thought’ in Te Reo Maori.

Google Apps for Education, [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south17.html#fn16x0 16] Google Apps for Education allows schools to use the suite of Google tools in a closed environment. Teachers in the three clusters have access to a Google portal that is linked to the current Moodle.

eXe, [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south18.html#fn17x0 17] eXe is a freely available Open Source authoring application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup. Resources authored in eXe can be exported in IMS Content Package, SCORM1.2, or IMS Common Cartridge formats or as simple self-contained web pages. eXe promotes the use of pedagogical templates to assist teachers to produce interactive web content.

Wikieducator, [../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south19.html#fn18x0 18] The WikiEducator is an evolving community intended for the collaborative:

  • Planning of education projects linked with the development of free content.
  • Development of free content on Wikieducator for e-learning.
  • Work on building open education resources (OERs) on how to create OERs.

A WikiEducator contextualised for New Zealand schools is being supported by the MOE’s MLE project.

4.5.2 Single Sign On

SSO will allow a user to enter their username:password credentials once and have access to multiple services without re-entering their credentials. For example, a user will log on to a computer at school and have access to their Moodle, Mahara and Wikieducator accounts without re-entering their username and password. SSO considerably improves the user experience. The MOE’s MLE project has offered to implement a SSO trial for Aorakinet and Cantatech.

4.5.3 Relationship to the Broadband Investment Initiative.

At the time of writing, the final details of the BII are yet to be released, although, it is clear that many rural schools will enjoy fibre connectivity on a similar time-scale as urban schools. However, it is possible to make generalised statements about the need for and effect of increased connectivity on this proposal. The software outlined above is currently capable of being used as we intend without any improvement in connectivity. This means that the project is ready to start in January 2010. As the BII improves connectivity over the next few years, we anticipate that the need for face-to-face professional learning can be reduced by using, for example a combination of video-conferencing and web-conferencing technologies such as Adobe Connect. An additional advantage of these technologies as they allow ’just in time’ models of PL to be developed. The current speed of connectivity in schools means that, at present, the quality of user experience of these technologies, particularly web-conferencing, is not satisfactory.

5 Roles and Responsibilities

The project will be led and delivered by the three ePrincipals of Aorakinet, Cantatech and WestNet. The ePrincipals currently have offices based at Waimate High School, Darfield High School and South Westland Area School. The day-to-day management structure of the project will consist of a steering group of six members comprising the three ePrincipals plus one Principal from each cluster. The role of this group is to lead the project and ensure that procedures are developed and tasks monitored and completed. Accountability, evaluation and financial compliance tasks are also the responsibility of this group. The members of the steering group will have both individual and co-responsibilities to ensure that a degree of risk-management is in place in the event of a member of the steering group moving on. Areas of expertise required for the steering group members are:

⋅ Project management, Operations and Liaison - leadership of the on-going operation of the project and liaison with users.

  • Ensure project scheduling is reasonable, accurate and completed.
  • Manage relationships with stakeholders.
  • Ensure communication to stakeholders is timely and efficient.
  • Evaluation of project is completed, accurate and timely.
  • Ensure financial accountability measures are in place and that annual project accounts are completed, accurate and timely.

⋅ Technology - leadership of the service implementation, development and provision.

  • Ensure technology required for the project is operational, well-maintained and secure.
  • Conduct annual technology review.
  • Liaise with outside contractors.
  • Helpdesk provision.

⋅ Professional Learning and Pedagogy- leadership of teacher learning to enable effective OLE use for blended learning.

  • Ensure Technological PL takes place.
  • Ensure Pedagogical PL takes place.
  • Ensure PL evaluation takes place.

Each ePrincipal will have a major leadership responsibility in one of the above areas as well as two minor responsibilities.

6 Financial and Progress Reporting

6.1 Introduction

We propose to make available Termly and Annual reports publicly available on our project page on Wikieducator. The reports will include strategic information, inputs, outputs and financial statements. The public availability of these documents will enable stakeholders and others to freely contribute to the project. For the purposes of this proposal, the entity in which absolute accountability resides would be the School Board of Trustees of Darfield High School. The clusters approach to the Ministry is one similar that provided by a critical friend: giving critical advice, guidance and support. The clusters currently have excellent existing relationships with the MOE with regard to eLearning and other cluster funding e.g. ICTPD funding.

6.2 Self Review

Evidence of progress will be transparent and based on a range of data gathered and analysed. The review process will be ongoing and fully involve both teachers and students. Data will be gathered from a variety of sources:

  • Each teacher will be surveyed at the beginning of the project to ascertain their base knowledge.
  • Teachers will be surveyed every term to monitor individual progress.
  • Students will be surveyed every term to monitor the learning experience.
  • Teachers will develop ePortfolios that will enable analysis of progress on an individual basis.
  • Achievement (NCEA for seniors) data will be analysed.

We recognise that providing a reporting and review process that shows that value has been added to student learning is no easy task. We would like to propose that we work with the MOE’s in developing a rigorous process along similar lines to BECTA’s self-review framework[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south20.html#fn19x0 19] for schools in the UK and the state of Victoria’s epotential model[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south21.html#fn20x0 20].

7 Links and Synergies with Other Initiatives

The proposed project demonstrates sound use of MLE type technologies across a wide geographic area. Currently, user account provision and account credential handling is manual: users have to enter their password and user name credentials several times to access network resources such as when logging in to Moodle. The MOE’s MLE group are currently working on implementing single sign-on and have offered to use Aorakinet and Cantatech as a pilot for this work. This will enable a seamless log on experience from authentication against the local directory to using using the MLE.

A second initiative that this project has strong links to is the MOE funded Reusable and portable content for New Zealand schools project. This project aims to create a ’commons’ of educational content for NZ schools. We will promote this initiative to project teachers and schools so that project courses and content are freely available for others to use.

A third initiative that this project will be able to find areas of commonality and support is with the proposal by Otagonet that is being considered alongside the current proposal. If both proposals are successful, we anticipate forming a much larger community of practice and will are willing to work together to achieve efficiencies of scale..

Finally, the VLN and Mahitahi clusters are currently producing a Learning Design Framework and this project will be able to further refine this work.

8 Risk Analysis

Any project of this nature has associated with it a number of risks that need to be managed. In this section we outline some of those risks and how we anticipate managing them.

8.1 Personnel

There is a risk that the personnel involved in this project may leave and take with them knowledge that is vital for its success. To mitigate this risk the three ePrincipals who belong to the steering group will have a degree of role-overlap. Additionally, it will be a requirement that technical specifications and procedures are comprehensively documented and shared. Developing a large group of ’Teacher Leaders’ will also mitigate the risks of individual teachers leaving the project.

8.2 Technical

There are some technical risks associated with this project. Some of the services we propose are not fully mature and we anticipate that there will be technical problems that we will have to overcome. These risks are mitigated by the time frame that progresses from implementing the most mature packages first (i.e. Moodle) through to those that are least mature (e.g. web conferencing). Additionally, enterprise hosting will significantly reduce the risks to data held on the server as the hosting specification will include back-up hosting. Third-party technical expertise will also be available as needed.

8.3 Financial

There is some risk that if initial funding for this project is secured, it is not sustained beyond three years. This risk is mitigated by ensuring that the platform of services offered is used by a wide range of initiatives and stakeholders and that support for the blended learning model is secure at each project school.

9 Pricing

The total price for this project is $533,374 excluding G.S.T of which we expect the MOE to contribute $350,000 excluding G.S.T. The major cost areas over the three years are (totals exclude GST): relief for teachers, $182,700; transport and accommodation for teachers, $130,760; ePrincipal/facilitator salaries, $167,854; ePrincipal travel, accommodation and office costs, $31,660; university fees, $18,900; financial administration costs, $1500. School contributions to the project will be in the form of transferred staffing or cash. During year one the programme will be facilitated to the extent of 1 FTTE, and during years two and three the staffing will be 0.75 and 0.6 FTTE respectively. We will provide 868 teacher days professional development. A full budget is shown in Table

[../central_south.html.LyXconv/central_south.html#x1-57001r3 3].

Table 3: Summary of Budget Cost Areas

Phased Budget Showing deployment of resources to deliver services

Financed by

Budgeted Fees & Costs
Budget Item Inputs $NZ Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Quantity &rates Value Inputs $ Inputs $ Inputs $
Professional Fees of ePrincipals 2.35 FTTE 167854 1 FTTE 70306 0.75 FTTE 54000 0.6 FTTE 43,548
Professional & Other Direct Costs Office, transport & accommodation 33160 Office, transport & accommodation 15300 Office, transport & accommodation 10400 Office, transport & accommodation 7,460
Operational Indirect Costs nil nil nil nil
Participation Funding 868 teacher days PL 332360 336 teacher days PL 135100 336 teacher days PL 121100 196 teacher days PL 76,160
Sub Total 533374 220706 185500 127,168
GST 66672 27588 23188 15,896
Total Budget for programme 600046 248294 208688 143,064
Cluster contribution including G.S.T. 206296 79544 68063 58,689
Proposed Ministry contribution including G.S.T. 393750 168750 140625 84,375

9.1 Pricing Review

The steering group will hold annual pricing and budget reviews. Any changes to the proposed budget will take place only with the consent of stakeholders, including the MOE.

9.2 Cost efficiencies.

This project gains cost efficiencies by using ePrincipals to lead PL. These roles are currently funded by cluster schools.

10 Mandatory Requirements

We certify that the services outlined in this proposal comply with the Ministry’s requirements. We acknowledge receipt of the question and answers documents related to this RFP posted on the GETS web site. We confirm our proposal remains open for acceptance for more than 90 days after the RFP closing date, for the purposes of proposal evaluation.

10.1 Respondent’s Profile

10.1.1 Legal Name:

Darfield High School

10.1.2 Trading Name:

Darfield High School

10.1.3 Contact Person:

Vicki Smith, ePrincipal, WestNet,, 021778067Trevor Storr, ePrincipal, Aorakinet,, 0276898920Darren Sudlow, ePrincipal, Cantatech,, 0272171121

10.1.4 G.S.T. registration number


10.1.5 Legal Entity:

Board of Trustees, Darfield High School

10.1.6 Status and years of operation

58 years

10.1.7 Audited Annual Report

This is provided in a separate document.

10.2 Key Cluster Personnel

10.2.1 John Cruden


John Cruden is Principal of Opihi College in Temuka.  Formerly of Mackenzie College in Fairlie where he taught on the Canatech network, he was instrumental in the application to the Joint Schools Initiative Fund to set up TimNet in 2007.  TimNet quickly morphed into AorakiNet and John became lead Principal of its Management Committee earlier this year.  He has a strong interest in how the emerging technologies will aid students learning whether they distantly educated students in AorakiNet or "real" students at Opihi College.  Whilst a lead teacher for an ICTPD cluster in 2004 he studied, by distance, at Massey University, a paper "Learning and Educational Technologies".  This paper was a challenging experience and has greatly influenced his thinking about education.  Fortunate to be granted a sabbatical in 2010 he will look at sustainability in virtual learning clusters after the withdrawal of Government funding for their leadership and the roll out of learning management technologies to clusters’ "real" classrooms.

10.2.2 Bob Norrish

Bob Norrish has been Principal of Oxford Area School since 1999. During his tenure Oxford has continued to develop a reputation for staff innovation in ICT. He is a well-recognized figure in rural schooling and completed a sabbatical in 1995 where he investigated the situation of year 7 and 8 in Area Schools. Bob is the lead principal for the Cantatech eLearning cluster and as a result has a well-developed knowledge of distance learning through video-conferencing. He is an important leader amongst the principal group and is the driving force force behind recent developments.

10.2.3 Angela Sloane

South Westland Area School - Lead Principal

The West Coast Secondary and Area School Principals [WCSASP] had been a strong working collaboration prior to entering into the ICTPD cluster funding 2003-2005. A major component of the cluster years was the development of the Professional Learning groups around subject and year levels as well areas of focus including Literacy, raising student achievement, Digital and Information Literacies; all supported by the development of two online environments using the platform Interact. The WestNet site was used for collaboration as well as dissemination of information through the professional learning of WestNet Staff. WestNet Students site was developed with teaching staff who were beginning to explore blended learning models in workshops, one off projects and year level courses.

WestNet online environments went into a two year hiatus with the interval in funding in which the WCSASP schools concentrated their support for the implementation of the Professional Learning groups and eSchool through Video Conferencing [VC]. With the advent of the New Zealand eLearning Cluster Fund in 2008-2009 there was once again the ability to develop WestNet into more robust entity with the inclusion of in school coordination and an online environment linking the schools. A portion of the fund was allocated to support the hosting and development of an online environment across the eight schools. While ostensibly set up to provide the online component for eTeachers delivering through the WestNet VC eSchool, the Moodle site has been promoted for resources sharing and blended learning tool for students and teachers not linked to the VC classes. Angela Sloane has worked closely with the ePrincipal for WestNet for the last six years.

10.2.4 Vicki Smith

CoP Cert. Adult Education

Vicki is a visual artist who worked in graphic and web design roles before moving into adult education. Vicki studied at Massey University while working in Computer training organisations in Wellington, before moving back to the West Coast to take up the role of Facilitator for the WestNet ICTPD contract. Because of the huge distance covered by the cluster Vicki worked from the beginning to bring her web skills to developing the cluster online. As well as WestNet Secondary and Area schools Vicki also facilitates for the six primary schools stretching from Harihari to Haast. Projects there include an online student council, a focus on improving literacy and numeracy results, languages, technology and digital arts projects using a range of Ministry supported and free online tools.

Through her ongoing digital art practice Vicki has been working in online collaborative environments with colleagues in Aotearoa/NZ and overseas, being one of a networked performance troupe since 2001. The four members of this group, who have never physically met, collaborated with a local developer to create an open source software to provide their performance environment; UpStage was launched in 2003. Now in Version 2.1 the continued development has been through working with developers and third year Computing Students at Auckland University of Technology all via web only contact.

The UpStage team have performed in festivals here and abroad, delivered presentations, lectures and workshops to a broad range of education institutions and are in their third year of coordinating an online festival of performance that includes artists and audiences around the world.

10.2.5 Trevor Storr

BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, PGCE

Trevor is currently Director of eLearning of Aorakinet and is based at Waimate High School. He has taught at a variety of schools in the UK ranging from inner city Oldham through to rural Somerset and, since arriving in New Zealand in 2004 at Waimate High School. Trevor has a passion for exploring how technology can motivate, inspire and enthuse learning. As a 2007 MOE eFellow, Trevor looked at how online learning environments enabled co-constructive learning. With a Master’s Degree in Computer Science, current experience in teaching and 5 years experience of professional facilitation, as well as being on the MOE’s MLE reference group, Trevor is able to talk both techie and teacher speak!

10.2.6 Darren Sudlow

BA, DipTchg, PGDipEdLead (completing)

Darren is currently the eLearning Leader for Cantatech and is based at Darfield High School. He has taught in the Social Sciences at Auckland Grammar, Pakuranga College and was formerly the Head of Social Science and Director of eLearning at Marlborough Girls’ College. The latter position involved the strategic planning and leadership of ICT in the schools as well as Project Director for the ICTPD cluster with the Boys’ College.

Darren has a passion for teaching and learning, and is due to complete postgraduate studies in educational leadership. He has a keen interest in future thinking around education in New Zealand and sees eLearning as a key enabler of change in our schools.