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WHAT’S A SCHOOL TO DO? “We’re an Apple school,” announces the new entrants teacher to the assorted parents assembled in the staffroom. We all have one thing in common – a child who is about to turn five and start school next term. A quick tour of the school confirms the Appleness – iPads and iMacs are prevalent in all the classrooms, even the Year 0s. I consider what the words “We’re an Apple school” are likely to mean for my family. In the age of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD), we will no doubt see ourselves purchasing an iPad or MacBook for my son, and inevitably one for his younger sister in due course. They are effectively going to become Apple people. My husband and I, defying all trends, are very much PC people and thought we probably always would be, but I can see now that Apple is going to infiltrate our house. I consider what this means for Apple, and for the other players, each grasping for their piece of the schools market as BYOD and 1:1 computing programmes become the norm. Getting buy-in from a school is essentially bringing their product to that community. It is no surprise Google has shrewdly observed the global education technology market and has brought its own offering to schools: the Chromebook. This is essentially just a laptop but runs Chrome OS, an operating system where virtually everything is built in, including cloud storage, Google products for education, security, and even speed. Chromebooks may not be quite as attractive as its iCousin, or as cool, but they are a lot cheaper, and word on the edtech street is that they are fast, portable, easy to use, and come with a long battery life. And schools can also get the webbased management console which allows them to enrol, configure, and manage fleets of student and schoolowned Chromebooks. So what’s a school to do? Schools that are now connected up to ultrafast broadband say it has transformed teaching and learning. Add to the mix the incoming Network 4 Learning, about which there is a very audible buzz, and it is clear to schools they need to make their decisions carefully. But which way do they turn when the technology is changing all the time and there appear to be so many options? It is interesting to sit back and observe the burgeoning uptake of the All-of-Government contracts for schools, particularly the desktop/laptop contracts, in light of the learning technologies boom. A year ago, Education Review took stock of the AoG contracts and found the Government taking a softly, softly approach, to little effect. Today, however, the MBIE reports a much different story, with an increasing number of schools opting in. There is still work to be done in making the process more user-friendly, but it appears they are making progress. AoG contracts, Chromebooks, and a raft of other topics about how schools should spend their ICT dollar appear within these pages. We also look at lessons learned from the first PPP school, Learning and Change Networks around New Zealand and how technology is changing the way early childhood centres do things. Next up – our online summary issue: Education in Review. Jude Barback Editor, editor@educationreview.co.nz Twitter: @EdReviewNZ

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Increasing number of schools take up AOG contracts

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MLEs and ICTs: education changemakers or old school smoke screens?

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www.educationreview.co.nz EDITOR Jude Barback PRODUCTION Barbara la Grange Aaron Morey ADVERTISING Belle Hanrahan PUBLISHER & GENERAL MANAGER Bronwen Wilkins EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Shane Cummings CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Claire Amos, Colin Dale, Pascal Dresse, Gerard Dunne, Marci Powell IMAGES Thinstock

ICT & Procurement Vol. 4 Issue 6

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ISSN: 1173-8014 Errors and omissions: Whilst the publishers have attempted to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information, no responsibility can be accepted by the publishers for any errors or omissions. Education Review is distributed to key decision makers in the education sector and its distribution is audited by New Zealand Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). Distribution: 6450

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1


PROCUREMENT

INCREASING NUMBER OF SCHOOLS

TAKE UP AOG CONTRACTS Last year, Education Review looked at the fledgling AoG contracts for schools and noted the lack of buy-in. One year on, the tide appears to be changing, with more and more schools opting for AoG contracts. JUDE BARBACK looks at the ongoing work of the MBIE to increase schools’ awareness and dispel common misconceptions about the contracts.

A

year ago, it would be fair to say that All-of-Government (AoG) contracts appeared to be floundering in the education sector. While public service departments and state service agencies are expected to use these contracts, organisations in the wider state sector, including school boards of trustees, are “encouraged to do so”. At that point, 12 months ago, any “encouragement” had been fairly minimal. The programme had been running for a year already to get schools more involved, but efforts to get buy-in from schools had been “fairly low key” according to Mark Richards, chief of procurement for the Ministry of Education. Richards said at the time that the Ministry didn’t wish to foist the AoG agreements onto schools when schools were dealing with a “mammoth amount of change”. However, he hinted at the recruitment of a new role based within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) that would be dedicated to assisting schools with opting in to the AoG contracts. One year on, and Jan Barnett now fills this role. As senior procurement advisor for schools, Barnett says AoG contracts are starting to build momentum in the education sector. The negotiation of the first AoG contracts was a significant aspect of the reform of state sector procurement policy and practice. These contracts establish a single supply agreement between the Crown and approved suppliers for the supply of selected common goods and services purchased across Government. The thinking behind the contracts is that they will save the participating agencies money, boost productivity for the suppliers involved in the agreement, and ultimately, save the Government and taxpayers money. Current contracts range from things like computers, travel, and vehicles, with more under way.

INCREASING UPTAKE OF AOG CONTRACTS Grant Lyons, who is the collaborative procurement manager within the Government Procurement Branch, Market Services at the MBIE, says they have seen a big increase in interest from schools in AoG contracts in the past few months. “We are really pleased with the progress being made.” He says the most popular contracts with schools at this stage are the desktop and laptop (DTLT) and office consumables contracts. At the beginning of the year, the Ministry had 70 schools signed up with a DTLT contract; now there are 107. 

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EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

Graham Prentice, general manager of Cyclone Computers, a supplier for the DTLT AoG contract, is also noticing a shift towards AoG contracts. He says close to a third of eligible schools (state and state integrated) have now moved into the first phase of the AoG process and more than half of those schools have moved to enable purchasing. “Depending upon the size of the schools involved, this can represent a very large proportion of the sales from the sector.” It would appear the decision to focus more on marketing the contracts to schools, through the creation of Barnett’s role, an enhanced web presence and other initiatives, is starting to pay off. Lyons agrees. “We are really striving to raise awareness of the contracts on offer and their benefits with schools. We’ve introduced an easier online sign-up process that is really quick from start to finish. We have also customised the contract documentation for schools. Schools tell us one of the things they like the most is the ‘Schools’ page on our website. It has general information as well as an online nondisclosure agreement. By signing this, they can immediately begin the sign-up process and view pricing.” In addition to these measures and to creating the senior procurement analyst for schools role, which gives schools a central point of contact, the Ministry has also been attending education events and conferences to raise the profile of the AoG contracts. The ‘me too’ aspect appears to be playing a part as well. “We are now seeing a flow of schools signing up or showing an interest as they see others come on board and realise the value in signing up,” says Lyons. Lyons says overall the focus has been on simplifying the end-to-end process for schools. “We had heard time again from both schools and suppliers that schools found the whole process very confusing. After having an initial look, they were putting it in the ‘too hard’ basket. We have really focused on making the whole process a lot more user-friendly.”

STILL ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT However, Prentice believes there is still room to improve the process. He says there needs to be a simpler way for schools to see what products are on offer. He gives the example of how quickly computers change – every quarter, or more regularly if driven by the vendors. He says some schools have looked

once at what was on offer and have not revisited, whereas schools that re-visit the catalogues will see and embrace the changes. “Over the last few months, desktops and laptops have made way for enormous numbers of tablets being provided via AoG. Apple iPads, Samsung tablets, and Motion tablets have all been added to the schools catalogue this year. And there are other devices being planned as vendors make appropriate tools for learning.” Prentice says the move to tablets mirrors what many schools are doing – moving from stationary desktops to more flexible tablets. He also suggests there needs to be an easier mechanism for schools to make their purchases under the AoG contracts. Cyclone is due to launch a full online transactional ‘shop’ for AoG customers that will bring together the vendor catalogue items in one place and enable school managers to simply quote and order online. “This will provide an easy way of doing business with AoG, currently missing for the schools sector,” says Prentice. Lyons admits there is still work to be done in this area. “We are continuing to work on improving the sign-up process and benefits accrued. This work will include getting a better understanding of what schools want to see in the contracts and better communicating the benefits and choices on offer,” he says.

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS Prentice remains baffled that some school managers believe that the purchasing power of their relationships can deliver a better return than the combined purchasing power of centrally negotiated contracts. “While there may be one-off retail specials where a local reseller is in need of making a sales target that are less than the AoG pricing, long-term the savings being returned to Government are significant via AoG.” He says suppliers have recently reviewed the savings experienced via AoG agencies for their product sets across each sector and the savings are significant. Lyons agrees, stating that for some contracts savings of 20-30 per cent are possible. Despite the efforts to increase communication with schools, there still appear to be some common misconceptions around AoG contracts. Many believe, for example, that when a school signs for AoG, they have to include all of the contracts, such as print services, data, stationery,


“While there may be one-off retail specials where a local reseller is in need of making a sales target that are less than the AoG pricing, long-term the savings being returned to government are significant via AoG.” and so on. Prentice is quick to dispel this myth and emphasises that schools can opt for the single DTLT contract. Another area of confusion is around using local suppliers. From the outset, one of the big criticisms of the AoG contracts is that smaller, local suppliers are at a disadvantage as they try and compete with the AoG contracts. Lyons says it is important to note that in some categories the contract allows for schools to nominate a third party to work with them through AoG or at times to buy ‘off catalogue’ or from a different supplier if what they are wanting to purchase is not available on the AoG catalogues. “Working with a third party generally happens in the DTLT contract. This means a local supplier ─ who may be the school’s service provider ─ can continue to work with the school under AoG. For example, a school could order computers at AoG pricing and its local service agent could prepare, install, and then train and support staff on the new computers. With this arrangement, the pricing for the supply of computers and the supply of additional service/support is fully transparent.” Prentice says he believes the third party provision is “sensible” for the DTLT contract. “The local supplier then has the ability to charge for the services around the supply and can also pick up the services after sale.” Another common misapprehension is that schools cannot lease their purchases.

“This is not true,” says Prentice. “Panel suppliers work with finance companies of the school’s choice to supply AoG goods.”

RECOGNISING THE BENEFITS Prentice points out that finance is one area from which schools can benefit. Through AoG contracts, there is the facility to enable goods to be bought under finance, whereby the school supplies are obtained via an operating lease rather than capital. Other benefits, beyond savings, are the timely delivery of goods and stipulated turn-around times for items needing servicing. Despite the benefits and savings touted by the Ministry, there are no plans to make AoG participation mandatory for schools –

although they expect to see more and more schools signing on. “Over time, as more schools become aware of the benefits, we expect non-participation will become more of an exception. If for some reason an AoG contract was not working out for a school, they are welcome to withdraw from the scheme,” says Lyons. It is interesting to reflect on the change that has occurred in a year and witness the gradual increase of schools signing up to AoG contracts. It begs the question of what we will find in another 12 months, and whether the MBIE’s efforts to better promote the contracts to schools and increase their user-friendliness will result in further uptake. □

EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

3


TEACHING MODELS

MODERN LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AND LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES:

21ST CENTURY EDUCATION CHANGE-MAKERS OR OLD SCHOOL SMOKE SCREENS?

CLAIRE AMOS questions whether ‘modern’ changes to the traditional classroom will really help improve students’ learning and outcomes.

mod·ern Adjective: Of or relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past. Noun: A person who advocates or practises a departure from traditional styles or values. Synonyms: new, up-to-date, contemporary, latter-day, neoteric.

M

MLEs are pointless if the teacher still leads from the front of classroom (even if that classroom has invisible walls). Learning Technologies are pointless when the students have the use of their technology controlled and limited to little more than word processing and the odd Google search. 4

odern Learning Environment is a term that seems to be bandied around a lot lately. But interestingly, it is rarely defined. The Ministry of Education has a whole section on their website dedicated to it, lots of information and tools, but no actual definition. More online research and still little in the way of a definition can be found. So what is a Modern Learning Environment or MLE? It would seem (from what I have gleaned from a number of school visits, and indeed, our own school plans) that this is a generic term that describes a space that may include many things: open and/or flexible learning spaces, breakout spaces, small spaces often referred to as ‘caves’, multi-purpose spaces, technology-rich spaces, and spaces that house ‘modern learning furniture’ such as bean bags, camp fire seats, and a variety of high, mid-height, and low groovy-shaped tables...often on wheels. Interestingly, MLEs don’t actually seem that modern at all. In fact, there is something rather retro and even commune-like about them, and if I am honest, they sort of remind me of a daycare centre – on steroids. So what exactly makes these learning environments ‘modern’? I guess what makes them modern is the fact that they are different from the older, more common school models (i.e. single-cell rooms), and for many, rather unsettling. Historically speaking, different and unsettling seems to mean ‘modern’, doesn’t it? I guess ‘unsettling learning environment’ was a bit of a hard sell, so ‘modern’ it is then. But hang on a minute, who said that modern equals good? The reality is that good (and bad) teaching can take place anywhere. I am guessing (and I am hoping) that the MLE will not simply make the teaching and

EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

learning better because it is a MLE, but that it will encourage a more open and flexible approach to teaching and learning because as a space it is exactly that, open and flexible. I hope it will encourage all those things we refer to as ‘effective pedagogy’ in the New Zealand Curriculum. I also hope it might discourage too much teacher-led instruction and encourage a more facilitation style of teaching and learning. Learning Technologies are a little easier to define. The term simply means any technology that may support learning. For most, this would include computers (desktops, laptops, and tablets), interactive whiteboards, smart screens, and smart phones. Learning Technologies are also ‘not so modern’. I guess what might be deemed as modern is the shift in who owns and uses the technology, especially as ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) initiatives see the ownership and power shifting to the student. Interestingly, while I value and see huge potential in both MLEs and (student-owned) Learning Technologies, I am also concerned about them. I am concerned that the development of MLEs and the introduction of Learning Technologies can become a bit of a smoke screen and can actually create an illusion of modernity when little has actually changed. I worry that the introduction of these physically palpable and measurable objects will be seen as making a change for the better, when the one thing that really needs to be ‘introduced’ is still lacking: the teacher’s belief that the student is capable of leading their own learning. How do we ensure that MLEs and Learning Technologies don’t actually create the educational equivalent of ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ with old beliefs and teaching approaches being dressed up in hip and groovy clothing? MLEs are pointless if the teacher still leads from the front of classroom (even if that classroom has invisible walls). Learning Technologies are pointless when the students have the use of their technology controlled and limited to little more than word processing and the odd Google search. The challenge will actually be to explore how the MLEs and Learning Technologies can be used to genuinely change how and what we have been doing. So how will we address this challenge at Hobsonville Point Secondary School (HPSS)? (I must add the caveat that these ideas are

fairly hypothetical, considering our first intake of students will arrive in 2014.) There are a number of ways we hope to ensure that both our MLE and our Learning Technologies will be used both thoughtfully and effectively. Our strategies include a curriculum design and timetable structure that challenges the very traditional siloed curriculum areas and subjects often seen in secondary schools. HPSS will look to provide integrated modules alongside more traditional subject modules as well as providing opportunities for significant time to be spent on school-wide and passion projects. This will mean students and teachers will be encouraged to work collaboratively and to share and move between spaces in a way that may not happen so easily in a single-cell environment. In terms of Learning Technologies, HPSS will provide a wireless infrastructure, a single-sign-on multi-platform LMS (learning management system), a BYOD policy and a focus on developing digital citizenship skills from day one, encouraging staff and students to use technology as and when it is needed. Teaching staff will also be supported in their use of the MLE and Learning Technologies, through an ongoing focus on Teaching as Inquiry. This will ensure teacher professional learning will be framed by a teaching inquiry which will include a ‘focusing inquiry’ that will look at the needs of the learner and the desired student outcomes, followed by a ‘teaching inquiry’ that will look at how both the MLE and the Learning Technologies can be used most effectively to support the learner needs and to encourage learners to lead their own learning, followed by a ‘learning inquiry’ that will endeavour to measure the effectiveness of the teacher interventions and will inform future use of both the MLE and Learning Technologies. At least, that is the plan! To paraphrase Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go astray” and the hard truth remains: changing the environment and introducing tools is the easy part, genuinely changing our thinking and letting our ‘caged’ students go ‘freerange’ ─ now that’s going to be a challenge. □ Claire Amos is a deputy principal at Hobsonville Point Secondary School – a brand new secondary school that opens for students in 2014.


THE DEMISE OF THE DESK (AND THE BIRTH OF THE BEANBAG)

Students now can learn as they lounge, but is this doing them any favours for when they enter the ‘real world’?

C

lassrooms don’t look like they used to any more. The lines of creaky desks – some even with inkwell holes; blackboards, dusty with chalk; a smattering of computers in the corner; an overhead projector tucked in the corner, perhaps. Not any more. A fly on the wall in a modern classroom might see children lying on the floor in groups as they work, lounging on beanbags with iPads, standing at a table to write. Without internal walls to separate the classrooms, the fly would be able to see the neighbouring classes. In fact, the word ‘classroom’ is no longer really applicable. While ‘modern learning environment’ is terribly jargony and MLE is just another acronym for teachers to use, it does seem to give a more fitting description than classroom. Of course, ‘modern’ is a given, environment is neither here nor there, but it is the ‘learning’ that is important; it’s good to see it made it in there. Schools who have crossed into modern learning environments, with open learning spaces and hubs and ‘caves’, generally feel like they’ve seen the light. Rolleston’s Clearview School principal James Petronelli told The Press that after using the school’s new learning block for a term, the results had exceeded his expectations with high levels of engagement from the pupils. “Teachers are saying they could never go back to the other way,” he said. Melanie Taylor, principal of new Golden Sands School in Papamoa East, says she is thrilled with how the learning communities are functioning. All the research into Kenn Fisher’s and Prakash Nair’s theories on learning spaces has paid off and the end result is working well and a recent ERO report confirms that the school is operating and achieving at a high level. Kilbirnie School was one of five around the country that participated in the Learning Studio Pilot run by the Ministry of Education in 2008 and

principal Mike McGimpsey is delighted with how the learning studio is being used. “It lends itself to so many different styles of teaching and learning,” he told Education Gazette. However, there is an elephant in the modern learning environment. It seems obvious children are going to prefer to lie on the floor or lounge on bean bags, but isn’t it inevitable that eventually they are going to be confronted with a desk and chair? Research shows that children prefer to learn down low or up high, and subsequently, high desks with whiteboard tops and nooks with cushions have emerged. But will these children always have the luxury of learning and working as they please? Chances are, they will. Randall Fielding, in his article ‘Leaner, More Effective Schools’ published in School Business Affairs last year, points out that the corporate world of the 20th century, with its rows of offices, desks and cubicles, supported a hierarchy and was reminiscent of the 20th century classroom, with students in desks facing a teacher who delivered and filtered knowledge. He then compares this with innovative companies of the 21st century like Google which strives to maintain the open culture with its offices and cafes designed to encourage interactions within and across teams, and to “spark conversation about work as well as play”. But we don’t have to look as far as California to see innovative new workspaces. The 3M headquarters in North Shore’s Albany features an innovation gallery and an open, home-like workspace environment. The new Wynyard Quarter innovation precinct is tipped to feature an atrium space that will be part cafe, part event venue, part show case – “designed to stimulate ideas, provoke discussion, energise meetings and foster creative discussion.”

These days, the workspace is not an actual physical space, says Vaughan Robertson, Operations Manager of Beca Applied Technologies. “The workspace is a time that you dedicate to work, as opposed to a place. It doesn’t matter whether you are at home, at work or somewhere else [as long as] you are able access what you need to do your job.” From this perspective, it seems imperative that schools change. Fielding poses the question, “How can our kids learn the skills that Google and other forward-thinking companies want in their people if they are learning in spaces designed to produce workers for past centuries?” Architect Prakash Nair agrees, saying the classroom is a relic from the Industrial Revolution, which required a large workforce with basic skills. “Classroom-based education lags far behind when measured against its ability to deliver the creative and agile workforce that the 21st century demands … As the primary place for student learning, the classroom does not withstand the scrutiny of scientific research.” The research Nair alludes to is the dozens of studies that show a close correlation between human productivity and space design, that demonstrate that students and teachers do better when they have variety, flexibility, and comfort in their environment. “Does this mean that effective education is impossible in schools with classrooms?” asks Nair. “Of course not. Good teachers work hard to overcome the limitations of classroom-based schools, and many succeed in spite of the odds.” Nair is right; the learning environment doesn’t define the teacher. Just as working in the nirvana of Googleplex doesn’t make you good at your job. But if today’s students are eventually going to be working in flexible, comfortable workspaces, surely it makes sense for their learning journeys to begin from the same sort of environment? □ EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

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COLLABORATIVE TEACHING

LEADING LEARNING AND CHANGE ACROSS THE COUNTRY

JUDE BARBACK takes a closer look at the Learning and Change Networks initiative that is empowering New Zealand schools to raise achievement – and gaining global recognition.

I

n North Hokianga, seven rural, isolated schools have come together to identify the capabilities that lie within the Hokianga schools and communities to create solutions to raise achievement for their students, of which 81.2 per cent are Māori. The principals all share a common belief in the quality and potential of their students; their focus is on developing writing and nurturing their students’ digital skills. The aggregated National Standards data for these schools confirms the schools’ writing student achievement challenge is starting to pay off, and by next year, they will have a firm strategy in place that will be reflected in each school’s individual annual plan. The North Hokianga network is a great example of how the Learning and Change Networks can play to the specific needs of communities. Forty-nine other networks across New Zealand are all finding their own path to lift student achievement and all are embracing the challenge with similar fervour. Jackie Talbot, national manager for the Learning and Change Networks project, says the project has a point of difference – it empowers network stakeholders to take responsibility for the learning and the changes needed. Learners, communities, teachers, and leaders work together to learn what to change and make the changes. Jean Annan of University of Auckland UniServices has been involved in getting the networks up and running and is similarly inspired. “I’ve worked in schools for years, seen hundreds of schools in my job, and I’ve never seen people so excited,” says Annan.

WHAT ARE LEARNING AND CHANGE NETWORKS? What is it that has everyone so excited about this initiative? In 2011, the Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, allocated $7m over two years to establish cross-school networks to essentially help schools and kura make sense of National Standards and Nga Whenaketanga Rumaki Māori. Ultimately, the networks initiative aims to raise learner achievement. The Learning and Change Networks initiative began with six pilot networks (Auckland Intermediates, Kaikohe and Districts, Big River

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– Balclutha, Sensory Schools, Central North Intermediates, and Manaiakalani) from April 2012. Since then, it has grown to encompass 50 networks involving 313 schools and kura, with plans for a further ten networks in due course. The networks are voluntary and comprise a variety of different schools, including special schools, kura, and a few early childhood settings. They are spread from Kaitaia to Invercargill with 24 in the Northern Region, 14 in Central North, five in Central South, and seven in Southern. The majority of schools and kura involved are primary, intermediate, and composite schools with 21 secondary schools also involved. The schools cover the decile range, but with a greater proportion in the lower deciles; 28 per cent of the students from these schools are Māori and 15 per cent are Pasifika. The average number of schools in each network is 6.2.

HOW DO THEY WORK? Each network is invited into a fourphase learning and change process to grow innovative and effective learning environments that will benefit priority learner groups performing below national standards. Research suggests that Māori students, Pasifika students, students with special education needs, and students in low socioeconomic communities are typically priority learner groups. Phase one ─ the infrastructure phase ─ involves Ministry lead development advisors (LDAs) working with principals to help make sense of the new initiative. While some networks have chosen to opt out at this point or delay their inclusion in the programme, the vast majority of networks progress to the second step, the understanding phase, which is all about learning what to change and getting ready to change it. This phase involves linking qualitative data sets about the state of the current learning environment to quantitative data – including National Standards data – that points to student achievement challenges. It also involves learning from other networks and looking beyond the networks to international developments.

At this point, three networks, each in their own individual way, have moved on to the third phase of implementation, which is about making changes and checking progress. The fourth step is the sustainability phase: agreeing what to keep, what to eradicate, and what next steps to take – although essentially the aim is to build sustainability throughout the entire process.


NOT A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL APPROACH While the four-phase approach might seem rigid, Annan says the process is anything but prescriptive. She describes it as a “scaffolded process” where networks work within a broad frame, but ultimately make their own choices and discoveries and implement their own solutions. In fact, one of the defining characteristics of the network initiative is that change is actively driven by the schools and their communities. It is up to each network to work together to identify the expertise that lies within their schools and communities and use this to create innovative solutions to raise achievement. Talbot agrees. Each network is responsive to its own context, she says. “There is motivation to change in ways that will best suit their needs.” The work being done within each network should align with other Ministry projects and objectives. “Nothing is done in isolation,” says Talbot. Network planning should be integrated into the schools’ regular Schools Planning and Reporting (SPaR) cycles, for example. And whatever support stemming from

other Ministry-led initiatives, such as PB4L or PDL programmes, can be tied in to harnessing expertise in schools and communities to bring about change.

ARE THE NETWORKS WORKING? With the vast majority of networks still at the stage of understanding the context of students’ achievement challenges, it is still early days to be reporting any visible lift in achievement as a result of the network initiative. However, pilot networks and others are already reporting changes in student achievement. Data is currently being collected to quantify this in a much more tangible way and detail will be reported on in December 2013. This information will go some way to measure progress against the Ministry’s benefit outcomes. While a clear picture of raising achievement might take time to emerge, feedback from the networks suggest there are already common themes beginning to appear. At this stage, networks report most interest in growing connectedness with families, whānau, and community. Feedback also shows that the qualitative investigation into current learning environments has been invaluable in highlighting the importance of student agency and familywhānau connectedness. Networks are finding the more in-depth the data is, the greater the benefit. There are some common points of confusion, too, with some networks mixing up the achievement challenge with developmental dimensions, which might ultimately make it difficult to set clear academic outcome goals. Similarly, the network project appears to have ignited enthusiasm among school leaders to engage students and families as active participants in improving the learning environment. While this is considered a step in the right direction, it also presents a challenge: to share or flip leadership across professionals, students, families and communities. Indeed, it is a reflective, evolving, mutually-dependent process. The feedback and observations are helping guide the project to its next step, and strengthen it along the way. Networks are learning from the experiences of the more advanced networks as they transition into implementation, and the Ministry is learning from the networks as they progress from phase to phase in their similar and differing ways.

SYSTEMIC CHANGE: RAISING THE BAR Although there are the benefit outcomes to measure against, the most exciting part about the networks initiative is that it is not a project with an end point, with a list of boxes to be ticked ─ rather it aspires towards “a system lift”. “We hope to create a self-sustaining system that can learn from the system,” says Talbot. The vision is to empower schools, kura, and communities and set them on a learning cycle, ultimately to raise student achievement. It involves a paradigm shift from supply-driven educational services to demand-driven learning environments. Students, families, whānau, and communities have typically been passive receivers of ministry,

provider, and teaching professionals’ educational services. The vision is to create demand-driven learning environments that replace passivity among students and their loved ones with a sense of excitement, action, connectedness, and collectively assessing progress around learning. Talbot says traditionally the learner has been placed at the centre, with the school wrapping around the learner and the community around the school. However, the networks focus more on bringing the community into the centre with the learner and the school wrapping around to provide a contextual base.

CAPTURING INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION Perhaps it is this aspiration for a shift in paradigm that has captured the attention of the OECD Innovative Learning Environments project and the Global Education Leaders Forum. The OECD is specifically interested in the network project’s relentless focus on student agency; relentless focus on family, whānau and community agency; and the building of internal evaluative capability. The Auckland Intermediates School Network’s journey was documented as an example and shared in an OECD Innovative Learning Environments meeting in Paris in July this year, further cementing New Zealand as a world leader in this area. And it is a two-way street. New Zealand representatives are also learning a great deal about systems change and the nature of innovations (or lack thereof) in other countries and feeding this knowledge back into the New Zealand networks.

WHAT NEXT? The next step for the networks is to incorporate Learning and Change Networks into their annual planning cycle. Individual schools will write a detailed action plan as part of their SPaR (Charter) including expected student achievement goals and actions resulting from this strategy. Going forward, several recommendations have emerged, mainly around creating a cohesive and coherent system that is actively driven by the networks, rather than strategy documents and the policy-to-practice approach that was used initially to get the initiative off the ground. As with any journey, there have been challenges along the way. Talbot suggests that getting full participation of all stakeholders is perhaps the biggest challenge, especially “getting the community really and truly in the centre and establishing true authentic relationships”. While the process of learning and change is continuous, in a sense it is also a waiting game. A paradigm shift comes about from gradual changes, and the networks have not yet had sufficient time to mull it over and share their experiences. With sustainability and empowerment at the heart of this initiative, this is certainly no quick fix to raise student achievement, but rather a considered, organic approach that will take years to truly reach its peak. Meanwhile, the buzz and excitement continue. □

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EARLY CHILDHOOD

MAKING LEARNING STORIES

COME ALIVE WITH TECHNOLOGY

Early childhood settings are embracing new software to share children’s portfolios with their families, but JUDE BARBACK asks whether people will mourn the inevitable loss of the printed learning journeys or embrace technological change?

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he pages of my four-year-old son Daniel’s preschool learning journey book are so full and heavy with learning stories that on the regular occasions that he brings it home, he has to carry it with two hands and a great deal of huffing and puffing. My three-year-old daughter Emily does the same with her book, also filled with colours and photos and words about what adventures they’ve been up to at pre-school. When first confronted with the learning journey books, I perceived them solely as an initiative to keep parents informed. However, experience has shown me that when Dan and Emily bring their books home, they want to look at pictures of themselves, discuss with me what they are doing, have me read to them about them. The books are as much for them as they are for me.

LEARNING STORIES I recall very little from my own kindergarten days, and what I do remember is reinforced with photos, retro 1980s images in photo albums. I imagine my children’s recollections of their early childhood education will be somewhat clearer, thanks to the summaries and reflection prompted by the learning stories that their teachers write for them, and which we read together over and over again. Learning stories, as we know them today, are largely the result of the research conducted by Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee. In their book Learning Stories: Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education they discuss how learning stories can construct learner identities and how, by making the connection between socio-cultural approaches to pedagogy and assessment and narrative inquiry, learning stories have become a philosophical approach to early childhood education. The book Learning in the Making: Disposition and Design in Early Education by

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Anne Smith, Margaret Carr, and other colleagues draws on research around joint attention and autobiographical memory and its relevance to the development of a disposition to learn “reciprocity”. It argues that early childhood contexts can foster children’s dispositions to learn in various ways. The book states that “a disposition towards reciprocity includes engaging in dialogue with others, negotiating mutual sense and interest, communicating with others (both adults and peers), giving an opinion, taking into account the perspectives of others, sharing responsibility, communicating ideas, and becoming a group member”. Te Whaariki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, focuses on ongoing dispositions to learn. The learning story narrative assessment connects what we see and how we make meaning of it to the ideals of society and cultures as proposed by the goals and strands of Te Whaariki.

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL But now many early childhood centres are taking learning stories to the next level by recording them online. The immediate advantage is that they can easily be shared with family, and indeed this appears to be the sales pitch of many of the providers out there. As a parent, I agree this is great. I’m already a fan of my kids’ pre-school’s Facebook page, on which I regularly distract myself from writing articles to see what they’ve been up to throughout the day. On the days they don’t attend, they like to check the Facebook page with me. To see that their friends who attend on Monday have made bone-shaped biscuits (as part of their Hairy Maclary module) brings great anticipation of Tuesday’s morning tea! What’s more, my mother-in-law, who lives in England, can see and comment on the photos on Facebook.

The addition of learning stories online will make it possible for far-flung relatives and friends to engage with the child’s learning. Of course, that’s thinking about it from the enduser’s perspective. For the early childhood centre, there is a raft of decisions to make, the first of which is, which company to go with.

EPORTFOLIO PROVIDERS: THE MAIN PLAYERS The market for these sorts of early learning management systems is brimming with eager players. Generally considered the leading provider in New Zealand, Educa was born out of a parent’s experience with his child attending ECE. In early 2009, founder Nathan Li’s one-year-old daughter Nancy started full-time childcare in Lower Hutt. Within a few months he discovered the early childhood education community was facing a challenge: teachers were recording loads of information about children’s learning and development, but with no easy way to get that information to children’s parents. Similarly, time constraints often meant parents found it difficult to provide feedback to the teachers. And so Li brought Educa to life. It is primarily a software system built to help early childhood teachers and parents with documenting and assessing children’s learning through learning stories, photographs and videos. It provides a secure online diary of a child’s growth and development at an ECE centre. It allows parents to share in the experience of their child’s day and for the early childhood centre to gain valuable feedback and provide a better service. It provides a secure website and a range of smart phone (iPhone and Android) and tablet (iPad) applications. Educa has grown rapidly in the past few years. Li says over 15,000 users in 71 countries now use Educa on a regular basis. The company expanded into Australia earlier this year.


CASE STUDY: Kinderloop, while an international player, grew from the same parental concerns experienced by Nathan Li. It was founded by Dan Day of USA and Dan Walker of Australia, both busy parents who craved more information from their children’s preschools. More or less like the others, Kinderloop allows child care providers to post video, photo, and text updates about each child in their care so that parents can log in to the app or website to see a newsfeed of updates and photos of their child’s activities. It places huge emphasis on privacy and cybersafety. Day says it is seeing an increasing number of New Zealand early childhood settings take up its services. Meanwhile, home-grown ventures Kinderbooks and Storypark have been informed from teaching perspectives. Kinderbooks was essentially created to solve the problems experienced by Dale Neill, with collating and sharing profile books over her many years of teaching. Storypark began in a similar way, with Lynda MacDonald, who manages Aroha Early Learning Centre in Gore, guiding the initial prototype. The company has a strong focus on education with input from ECE advocate Janet Dixon, ICT specialist at Wellington Kindergarten Association Amanda Higgins, and CORE’s ECE ICT specialist Sharon Carlson. Storypark, founded two years ago, has only been available to the public since September last year. It operates in a similar way to other ePortfolio providers, a cloud-based tool that offers teachers, parents and wider family the opportunity to engage together around a child’s learning by recording and sharing photos, videos and text securely via a closed, private network. Interestingly, Storypark is designed for a child’s life-long learning.

“Parents can create an account for their child when they are born, include an early childhood centre for the period of time that their child attends the centre, then continue the child’s Storypark account as the child goes to school,” says co-founder, Peter Dixon. Dixon also believes the fact that Storypark is a values-based social enterprise – “a business that balances social outcomes with financial sustainability” – gives them a point of difference. Like Educa, Storypark is growing fast and is evolving. Dixon reports that they are working on advanced reporting features and extended curriculum features. Plans are also afoot for a teacher’s professional learning community and planning area.

MAKING THE DECISION As with most purchasing decisions, it is about finding the best fit for the early childhood centre’s ICT strategy and budget. All the providers flaunt numerous testimonials from around the country, proving that competition in this area is indeed hot. My children’s pre-school has recently made the decision to go with Educa. They have decided to hold onto the printed learning journey books too, for a little while at least. While it presents more work for the teachers in the short-term, the transition will be gratefully received by children and parents alike. However, while I’m probably not alone in mourning the gradual death of print, it would be fair to say my three- and fouryear-old are as at home with touch-screen swipe technology as they are with a book, as familiar with an app as they are with a Beatrix Potter book. No doubt children will easily adapt to the new medium of their learning journey, as will their parents. □

TOP 10 TIPS FOR A GREAT LEARNING STORY

1. Start with a great title – short and concise. 2. Include an observation of the child which describes the learning activity. 3. Uncover what is beneath the surface of the learning activity. “What’s happening here?” 4. Plan for the future to extend or continuously support the child’s interest. “What next?” 5. Take care with language. ‘I’ can convey the teacher’s observation, ‘You’ is speaking to the child, ‘We’ is inclusive of family. 6. Include photos – three is best and make sure they’re clear. 7. Make it colourful and interesting – to keep children captivated in their own learning journey. 8. Keep it personal – link it back to what’s happening at home. 9. Encourage family feedback and input by asking questions in the stories. 10.  Keep stories up-to-date so that the most recent story is relevant to the child’s current learning.

NEW SHOOTS CHILDREN’S CENTRE Pat Smithdorf, centre manager at Papamoa’s New Shoots Children’s Centre, discusses the software used at the centre.

Q A

WHAT PROMPTED NEW SHOOTS TO ADOPT ONLINE PORTFOLIO SYSTEMS? Online portfolio systems were something we have been wanting to implement at New Shoots since opening our first centre in Papamoa in 2011, but because of the rapid growth, we held off until things settled. Now that we have four centres, we thought it was time to revisit this. We are always looking for ways to improve communication and build on the relationships between our teachers and families. With the success of our Facebook pages, an online portfolio system appeared to be a progressive step, and Educa allows us to share information with families in a private manner whilst maintaining accessibility for parents.

Q A

WHY WAS EDUCA CHOSEN? DID YOU LOOK AT MANY DIFFERENT OPTIONS? This was a decision that took months to ensure we were happy with our choice. We looked at many other options. We factored in usability, function, and aesthetics, and for New Shoots, Educa came out on top. It has been in the marketplace the longest, and we felt they had a really good understanding of early childhood education and what we needed from an online portfolio system. Our Hamilton centre has used the system since opening the centre in January 2013. The feedback from both teachers and parents was really good, so this confirmed our decision to implement Educa across our other three locations.

Q A

HAVE YOU HAD ANY FEEDBACK FROM FAMILIES THAT SUGGESTS ONLINE ENGAGEMENT WITH THE COMMUNITY IS THE WAY TO GO? The success of the Facebook pages was largely what drove the urgency to implement an online portfolio system. The ease in which parents can respond and give feedback “on the go” using a cell phone or tablet has really improved parent participation which is important to us at New Shoots. Educa is a way of sharing information in a much more private forum which a lot of parents feel more comfortable with.

Q A

WILL IT MEAN MUCH EXTRA WORK FOR THE TEACHERS? HOW DO TEACHERS FEEL ABOUT THE CHANGE? The reason we chose Educa was because of its user friendly interface. It is a really simple process similar to Facebook where you upload photos or learning stories, tag children involved, and parents receive automatic updates where they can comment. The additional work for teachers is simply the uploading of content so for added communication we feel it is worthwhile. Some of the teachers have been really excited to get on board and have pushed to implement the system as soon as possible, and some have been a little more hesitant. Up-skilling our teachers is really important to us. Within our group, there are some extremely competent ICT users that have been really willing to help those who are not so strong in this area. EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

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10 SOCIAL MEDIA

TWITTER TIPS FOR TEACHERS

Education Review suggests ten ways teachers can get more out of the Twitterverse.

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USE TWEETDECK

While you need to go to twitter.com to register, most agree it is easier to manage the world of Twitter from a third-party client, like TweetDeck, a Twitter application that allows you to order various feeds into columns, one for activity (others’ tweets), one for interactions (when others mention, retweet, or follow you), and so on. TweetDeck allows you to organise Twitter feeds more to your liking. Some find the interface of Twitter’s website too finicky, with too many tabs and places to click on. It also doesn’t auto-update and has to be auto-refreshed to display new tweets.

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THE MORE YOU GIVE, THE MORE YOU GET

The more you put into Twitter, the more you get out of it. As a Twitter newbie, a general rule of thumb is the more you tweet, the more followers you will rack up. Once a seasoned tweeter, it can open up connections with other people, new ideas, and relevant events.

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THE POWER OF THE HASHTAG

Rumour has it that one Irish bookmaker took a 5001 bet that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would name their baby Hashtag. While Hashtag (thankfully) didn’t make it onto the royal family tree, there is no disputing that the hashtag symbol carries great clout in social media circles. The hashtag symbol allows Twitter users to track what’s going on in the areas of their interests and to allow others who may or may not follow them to track what they’ve tweeted. It allows Twitter feeds to be searched on and tracked. Well-chosen hashtags can expand the impact a person’s tweet has far beyond the number of followers a given account has. Even people without a Twitter account can search the service for given hashtags to stay up on a given topic. With a Twitter account, however, the

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user can also post to Twitter with follow-up questions – and the use of the hashtag in that instance expands the number of people potentially who could respond with answers. Before creating a hashtag, it is a good idea to type it into Twitter to find out if it’s in use for some purpose other than the one you intended. Then, to create a hashtag, all you need to do is type it into your tweet.

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JOIN THE #EDCHATNZ CLUB

Every Thursday night at 9pm, teachers and anyone interested can jump onto Twitter and join the discussions at #edchatNZ. It’s a great way for teachers to connect with each other and share ideas. Taking part in #edchatNZ is simple – all you need to do is go to www.twitter.com, create a free account, and type #edchatNZ in the search bar. Now there is a spin-off version for students: #kidsedchatnz, held every Wednesday from 2–3pm.

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FOCUS ON FOLLOWING NOT FOLLOWERS

It’s easy to become preoccupied with the number of followers you have, but what is really more important is the number of people you follow yourself – and the quality of their tweets.

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MAKE USE OF LISTS

Twitter’s list feature allows you to group people based on any criteria you want for the purposes of reading their tweets. You can also subscribe to lists created by others by clicking on ‘lists’ when checking out somebody’s profile. Choose the list you’d like to join and click Subscribe. The list feature can be used in Twitter or TweetDeck. However, the list filter can’t be used to send a tweet to that specific group of people.

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SAVING TWEETS FOR A RAINY DAY

Although Twitter offers a Favorites feature (tweets with a star next to them), the problem is they’re public. There are other, more private, mechanisms for saving tweets. Diigo.com is one way users can save their favourite tweets. Getpocket.com is another; it allows users to


put tweets, videos, articles and other digital objects into a “pocket” for later. An Evernote account can also be connected with a Twitter account and you just need to add @myEN to any public tweet to have is saved.

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DON’T BE A BORING TWEETER

Tweetedtimes.com is a real-time personalised newspaper that’s generated from your Twitter account. Contents are culled based on retweets, reflecting the overall popularity of a message. paper.li also pulls in content from Twitter as well as other sources such as Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and RSS feeds. You can configure the service so it organises content around hashtags. Zite.com and flipboard.com are good for mobile devices allowing you to create personalised digital magazines sharing content of interest from multiple sites and providing ideas that might be worth sharing on Twitter.

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TEACHING WITH TWITTER

There are many ways teachers can use Twitter in the classroom and there are entire websites and publications devoted to the practice, but here are a few. Teachers can use aspects of microblogging in their teaching. The art of ‘summing up’ is a good place to start. Students can read an article or chapter and then post their summary with a limit of 140 characters. Other teachers have encouraged students to follow the tweets of a famous person(s) during a significant event, such as politicians in the buildup to an election, for example. A variation on that idea is to develop a ‘time tweet’, whereby students choose a famous historical figure and create a twitter account from them, writing regular tweets in the appropriate vocabulary. Progressive collaborative writing (micro writing) on Twitter can also be achieved when students agree to take it in turns to contribute to an account or ‘story’ over a period of time.

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THE ART OF PITHINESS

Even though 140 characters dictates succinctness, the adage ‘less is more’ is certainly true for Twitter. Aim to keep tweets as concise as possible. Many people receive thousands of tweets every day so don’t feel compelled to use up all of the 140 characters. Using sites like bitly.com can help to shorten links to keep messages brief. □ Adapted largely from ‘Twitter Tips for Educators’’ by Dian Schaffhauser and her discussions with instructional technologist Steven Anderson.

THE RISE OF #KIDSEDCHATNZ PASCAL DRESSE says student Twitter forum #kidsedchatnz is gaining momentum.

Have you ever had a kid say to you “This is awesome! When can we do it again?” This is the kind of excitement that children have shared with teachers after participating in a #kidsedchatnz on Twitter. The idea began from an educational twitter chat (#edchatnz) late last year and has slowly been gaining momentum as the fortnightly chat has carried on this year. Just as we as adults use technology for various reasons: entertainment, connections and learning and so on, we need to teach our children how to use social media responsibly. #kidsedchatnz has been running since Term 3 2012 and has seen children from all over New Zealand connect and share ideas on a variety of different topics. Regular chat participants include Morningside Primary (Whangarei), Henderson North School (Auckland), Te Kauwhata Primary, Broadlands School (half-way between Rotorua and Taupo), Maraekakaho (Hawke’s Bay), and Russell St School (Palmerston North). The excitement at connecting with others has been infectious. “It’s fun talking to other people about what they do. It’s really cool,” says Elijah, a Year 5 student at Henderson North School. #kidsedchatnz gives the kids an authentic audience to share their learning. Fiveyear-old Griffin from Broadlands School loved sharing his writing and his teacher said he works even harder now after being congratulated for his work and encouraged to keep working hard. It has been a challenge finding the perfect time to all meet. School sports and other activities sometimes get in the way, but the words “we’ll have to stay inside this afternoon” is now said with enthusiasm on rainy days. The benefits of getting involved in #kidsedchatnz are numerous. Children are reading tweets, asking/answering questions, communicating with others, and/ writing, but best of all, it has provided an authentic context for teaching positive digital citizenship in the classroom. Teachers are able to scaffold how to be safe and responsible when using the internet, while learning. Classroom teacher Stephen from Russell St School says, “The buzz and excitement the kids get from #kidsedchatnz is second to none! Kids’ minds are working overtime as thoughts, ideas, and connections are formed in an authentic context. It’s real learning!”  Someone once tweeted that every class in New Zealand should be involved in #kidsedchatnz. I guess that would be the ultimate goal, but for now we are just looking for any inspiring teachers, who want to get their kids excited about learning. The possibilities are endless, but we don’t know what our children can achieve until we give them a chance. #kidsedchatnz is one way that kids can unlock their ability to be amazing and change themselves and others. As Stella from Morningside Primary said, “It was fun to teach other people about our Adventure Learning.” #kidsedchatnz now happens weekly, every Wednesday from 2pm to 3pm (simply follow the #kidsedchatnz hashtag). Check out the blog page (http://kidsedchatnz.blogspot.co.nz) for the latest topic, create a class Twitter account, and add your Twitter name to the Google doc. Or for more information and to hear how teachers are using it in class, feel free to ask some of the regulars: @PalmyTeacher, @ReidHns1, @simone015, @1MvdS, @Juliet_Revell or @PascalDresse. □ EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

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GOVERNANCE

THE PERILS OF WORKING WITH INCORPORATED SOCIETIES:

A CAUTIONARY TALE

Murrays Bay Intermediate principal COLIN DALE discusses the challenges that emerged when an incorporated society, designed to run a music school attached to the school, viewed its role beyond what was intended. With the matter reaching High Court, Dale’s compelling account reveals an aspect of school management that other schools should heed with caution.

F

or over fifty years, the Education Board, and from 1989, the Ministry of Education, have funded staff and provided musical instruments for the benefit of the children attending schools in a geographical area. The Mid-Bays fifteen schools on the North Shore is one such area. In 2001, the principal of Murrays Bay Intermediate at the time arranged the establishment of an incorporated society: Bays Music Centre Incorporated. This followed the introduction of Tomorrow’s Schools. The idea was to have an infrastructure that could manage the finances of the attached music school so that the host school, Murrays Bay Intermediate, would be able to have their finances separate from the music school, meaning that there was a clear accountability of financial transactions for the benefit of the other schools contributing to the music school. One such concern was that the depreciation of the instruments became a credit and advantage for the music school, not the host school.

CRACKS BEGINNING TO SHOW Challenges became apparent very early on in the years following 2001. A number of issues arose such as difficulties with the supervision of the music school, the storage of instruments, and dayto-day problems emanating from the unavailability of staff other than the host school staff, to manage the issues that constantly arose. Different scenarios were implemented ad hoc to cope with the increasingly difficult aspects of the attached music school. A fire in the school hall resulted in a number of instruments owned by the Ministry of Education being lost and replaced by insurance claims. When I became principal in 2002, a number of issues presented themselves to me. There were

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no employment contracts, no policies, no quality communication between the school and the music school, no appraisals, and I was slow at getting to know staff in the music school and attending to business that was outside the normal hours of school. The director of the music school accepted all the recommendations I made and we worked together to ensure ongoing changes to systems to make the music school less open for criticism. I fielded many complaints on a weekly basis. The most pressing complaint centred on the inability to have calls returned and action taken for concerns. A major incident over the auditing of the accounts for the society arose shortly after I arrived and lasted three years. The accounts had not been audited for a number of years, and when I investigated why, I found many of the receipts missing. There was all manner of explanations, but it was impossible to reconcile. This put the school in a precarious position – who takes the responsibility for this: the board of trustees who employ the staff and are responsible for the care of the children attending the music school? The incorporated society was deregistered in 2004 as it had not met its obligations. The school did not receive notification of this, and if the society did, it was never conveyed to us. We realised that the relationship between the incorporated society members and the board of trustees was untenable because the board could not take responsibility for the society’s actions without any input into the decisions that were being made. The incorporated society members did not report to the board as the rules of the society dictated. So, in effect, they became an island unto themselves and thought that they were the people who ran and made the decisions for the music school, which was, in fact, not the case. This has been verified by letters from and conversations

with Mrs Fay Mason (principal 1989–2002), Mr Martin Dare (supervisor 1981–1984), and Mr Edwin Tolmie (supervisor 1985–1990). They also verified that the instruments belonged to the Ministry of Education and not to any committee or society.

SERIOUS CHALLENGES A fundamental problem was that the executive of the incorporated society came to control a disparate group of people who had no allegiance to the host school. The annual general meeting comprised a few interested people who turned up on the day, and the school had no way of knowing who they were, their background, or in fact, any aspect of who became in charge of the society. This, of course, presented challenges as the host school is responsible for the staff and students and yet had no satisfactory connection to the executive, except at an occasional meeting. Meetings rarely, if ever, attracted more than a handful of people. In effect, the board of trustees were taking responsibility for the decisions made by the executive of the society and the consequential actions resulting from these decisions. So the emotional and physical safety of the children attending the music school, the lack of police checking for the members who thought they were running the music school, and the accountability of the staff (as they did not know who they answered to) became too much for the school to accept. Issues of complaints, confidentiality of staff information, accountability of the director of the music school, and the policies of the school and the subsequent relationship of those policies to the music school, all contributed to very serious concerns about how tenable the situation was for the governors and the principal of the school. So the question arose: how can the board


wished with the assets. They had removed all the instruments from the school without our permission and we found that the rules to the society were changed in September 2011 without our permission, or indeed, any reference to us.

AREAS OF CONTENTION

of trustees, with paid staff through the Ministry of Education payroll, effectively take responsibility for the welfare and operation of the music school and yet have no representation or even a report from such a disparate body of trustees? Another serious challenge was the issue of remuneration. The director of the music school was paid a large honorarium and the secretary and the treasurer were paid a much smaller one. The director’s was adjusted from time to time but with no reference to what she was paid by the Ministry of Education. Some staff were also awarded ‘top-ups’ to their wages from the Ministry of Education, and so were, in effect, getting two cheques for their work at the music school. Of more concern were the issues of ownership of the assets. The Ministry of Education originally owned the instruments. However, it is fair to say that the society has purchased instruments on behalf of the music school for the benefit of the children attending the music school. This is because the intention of the society was to manage the expenses for the music school.

THE CAUSE OF THE DISHARMONY AND COURT ACTION At a meeting during 2012, I presented a draft document of a possible establishment of a new charitable trust, based on a similar one, for similar reasons, established by Marshall Laing Primary School for their attached music school. I reiterated that we were keen as a school to have feedback, which they would be seen as to be representative of trustees for the music school, but that the school had determined that it was very necessary that we made some changes to the way the music school was managed. We had a meeting between two of the executive of the society and the chairperson of the school board of trustees, which we felt went very well. The very same day, a letter arrived stating that the society were divorcing themselves from the school and going to do what they

The society stated in writing on 18 July this year, “It is not intended that the society is wound up, but that instead it fulfil its purposes in an alternative arrangement of the committee’s choosing.” In fact, the purpose of the society was to provide a mechanism in which to manage the school’s funds. The society is not independent of Murrays Bay Intermediate. As a member of that committee, I believe that my deliberate exclusion from advice and notification around this activity was manipulative and had an intention of removing the funding foundation that leads to the successful operation of the music school. The many years that this money has been accumulated should not have been exploited by the society executive without the express affirmation of 75 per cent of the members as stated in the rules of the society. They were given a copy of the intended trust and were invited to contribute ideas to the board on that matter, but they did not do so. A huge problem centres on who is a member of the society and who is not. Discontinuing their association with the host school (a decision made by very few people) effectively removes the numbers and potential members for any AGM meeting where decisions are ratified.This means that the numbers required in the management of incorporated societies are not there for any reasonable source of accountability. In effect, they could create members any way they like, limiting it to very few so that they have total control of the assets.

THE LEGAL REALITY We felt that as a responsible group of governors, we could not ignore our responsibility to challenge this state of affairs. Unfortunately, the society’s executive chose to take our database of the student contacts which we had entrusted to them. This meant that instead of informing them directly of what was going on, we had to publish, at two different times, papers of explanation. We decided that we had no choice but to challenge their re-writing of the rules unconstitutionally as unlawful, hence our invitation to the three executive members to the High Court to defend their actions. The court case focused on who was a member and whether the court should return the society back to 2011 before the rules were changed. The court did not return the society back to 2011 inspite of the fact that the executive did not comply with the rules of the society or even record their actions in their own minutes of the society. The judge did not, in her ruling, find enough evidence of how the incorporated society was set up; so the reasons for the establishment had no bearing on her decision.

A major, well-argued aspect of her decision not to return the society to the rules of 2011 was around the fact that she believed, correctly in my view, that there have never been any members of the society since its establishment, except for the executive, who by the very act of their being elected, made them members. The judge contended that to be a member of a society, one has to do something more than just pay a fee for tuition, as was the case at our music school. They would need to understand the constitution and what being a member meant. While legally this is acceptable, the practicalities are problematic – who at the music school cares?

NEVER HAVE AN INCORPORATED SOCIETY The message is to never contemplate using an incorporated society to be a way of managing an organisation attached to a school or for any other purpose where it may seem to be an option. If you have an incorporated society, work towards changing it into a trust, or manage the situation as a school without any legal entity being involved. Never involve people who are not part of the culture of the school in an attached arrangement. They do not know, respect, or even understand the school’s beliefs or way of operating. Murrays Bay Intermediate is a well functioning school that is exciting and successful; only the Bays Music School challenged us and impacted on our core work. This has been a very worthwhile exercise. We now have a music school that the school controls completely; an income that more than compensates for this and we can manage the affairs, challenges and successes ourselves. . The music school has doubled in numbers in one year. We have learnt a great deal from the experience. □

Are you looking for a teaching job in Auckland or Northland? If so, this notice is important for you. PPTA notifies all its members that you are strongly advised not to apply for positions in the following charter schools: • • • • •

South Auckland Middle School Rise UP Academy Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa Te Kura Houroa ki Whangaruru Vanguard Military Academy

Teachers at these schools will not be covered by the Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement. All PPTA members are directed to refrain from all professional, sporting and cultural liaison with the sponsors, managers and employees of charter schools. For further information visit: ppta.org.nz/issues in education/charter schools

EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

13


COMPUTERS

CRYING OUT FOR CHROMEBOOKS? With schools well-versed in the tablet vs netbook debate, Google have thrown another option into the mix. Touted as cheap, fast and functional, could Google Chromebooks be just what schools are looking for?

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lobal trends in educational technology show that the tide is ebbing on PCs. The money once spent by schools predominantly on PCs is now being divided between tablets, netbooks, and more recently, Google Chromebooks. Apple’s iPad still reigns as the tablet device of choice, but experts believe the majority of the edtech market is still up for grabs, and woe betide the fool who discounts Google from putting up a fight. So what is a Chromebook? For the uninitiated, they are essentially a new type of computer from Google that looks and feels just like a laptop, except they run Chrome OS, an operating system where virtually everything is built in: cloud storage, Google products for education, security, even speed is all built in. They come in a range of models, including Samsung, HP, and Acer. They are not as pretty as the iPad, but they are a lot cheaper, which is their major selling point, along with being fast, portable, easy-to-use, and with a long battery life. Google has partnered with both Norrcom and Cyclone to provide Chromebooks to New Zealand schools. Norrcom managing director, Paul Norris, describes the partnership as “a big step”. Leigh Gibbard, Cyclone’s National Schools Sales Manager, says Chromebooks are increasingly seen as the device of choice for many schools, particularly for those who want to pursue a

managed 1:1 computing programme. “Many schools are already using Google’s cloud-based applications and some have embraced devices running the Google Chrome OS,” says Gibbard. Google and Cyclone are buddying up to deliver a series of roadshows across New Zealand during September to highlight to teachers the benefits of the Google Chromebook for the education sector. They are offering schools a free Chromebook test drive programme where schools are able to try out both a range of Chromebooks , as well as trial Google’s web-based management console, which allows schools to enrol, configure, and manage fleets of student and school-owned Chromebooks. Such partnerships are evidence of Google’s shrewdness in identifying how it can take advantage of the move towards 1:1 and BYOD computing programmes in schools. It is touting simple manageability and a low cost of ownership as reasons to pick the Chromebooks over competing devices and systems – both appealing considerations for schools. According to this year’s US National Survey on Mobile Technology for Education, many schools cited affordability as the reason for selecting Chromebooks over more sleek and powerful alternatives. Others have been impressed how quickly and easily they can be set up for students and for their stamina. Apparently, Chromebooks can be turned on in eight seconds and last

eight hours. Those who dismissed netbooks for finicky internet connections and a proneness to freezing, and iPads for lack of a keyboard, found Chromebooks to be the Goldilocks alternative – just right. Also, because the Chrome OS is not a typical operating system, there is nothing for a virus to attach itself to, and many deem the Chrome browser to be one of the most secure browsers around. Chromebooks have also been given the thumbs up for their ability to automatically update themselves. Interface recently reported Auckland’s Carmel College’s enthusiasm for Chromebooks. After considering a range of alternatives including Apple iPads, netbooks, and Android tablets to roll out its 1:1 programme, the school eventually opted for the Chromebook based on a successful trial and its low cost. It was also a good fit as the school had already been using Google Apps for Education. Of course, it is not always such an easy fit, especially if schools use Windows applications or if they may need to access education web applications that require Java, which is not supported by Chromebooks. While some suggest abandoning Windows altogether, others have recommended alternative solutions such as using products like Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP solution that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host and run Windows applications or desktops in a browser tab. This allows an Internet Explorer session to be run inside a Chrome browser tab, thereby allowing applications that require Java to be run on the Chromebook. And so the struggle for market share of the edtech market, with all its promise of BYOD and 1:1, continues, with the big players thrashing it out. For the consumer ─ in this case, the schools ─ it really is a case of deciding what suits their ICT strategies and budgets best. Chromebooks demand consideration, if nothing else. □

EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

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PROCUREMENT

PPP: BEHIND THE SCENES Education Review asks Jason Wozniak of Aurecon about the decisions made and lessons learned from designing, building, and furnishing New Zealand’s first Public Private Partnership (PPP) schools at Hobsonville Point.

A

ll eyes are on the gleaming new Hobsonville Point Schools, the first schools in New Zealand delivered by the Ministry of Education using a Public Private Partnership (PPP) procurement model. The primary school opened at the beginning of this year and the secondary school is preparing to open its doors to the first intake of Year 9 students in 2014. A PPP is when the private sector finances, designs, constructs, and maintains the school, including meeting the requirements of the output specifications, which detail the design requirements and service requirements (such as the condition of the asset and the cleaning regime). The principal and board of trustees are still responsible for the delivery of education. Proponents of the PPP model say the benefits are that the board of trustees and school leadership can focus more on teaching and learning without the added responsibility of maintaining the school property. If the service requirements are not achieved then the consortium is not paid its full entitlement. The cost is fixed for 25 years, which provides cost and price certainty to the Ministry. However, in the early days there was a fair bit of scepticism directed at the PPP in schools initiative. The Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) expressed concern that PPPs will lead to the increasing privatisation of state education in New Zealand. Others have been doubtful of the savings proposed to be made, especially when details of the Hobsonville Point deal were apparently too “commercially sensitive” to be released. That the partnerships are only as efficient as the governmental negotiations preceding them, has been a criticism of PPPs all along.

ON TRACK Despite the initial criticism, it’s a case of ‘so far, so good’ for the first PPP project in Hobsonville, with Jason Wozniak of Aurecon declaring the project to have been successful to date. “The Hobsonsville Point project has achieved all of its milestones to date and has been delivered in an overall timeframe which ranks it as one of the fastest ever on an international scale. “In terms of the processes, these have run more smoothly than anticipated. From business case stage and through procurement, the Ministry defined a very clear delegation and approvals process. This documented what, when

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and who was required to approve the various stages of the project. “The private sector was also keen to be involved and there was strong interest to participate in the project. This assisted in meeting the challenging timeframes.” Sticking to budget is of key importance. Wozniak confirms the budget of $113m (net present value) was provided to the consortiums at the tender stage and the Ministry assessed that the requirements (output specifications) could be delivered for this amount. “The key issue for the consortiums was to deliver the requirements for the budget (they are minimum requirements), and therefore, there was the opportunity to add extra value if they were able to identify innovative and whole-of-life solutions. “Management of the project agreement remains with the Ministry – ensuring that it receives the requirements as per the output specifications. It is the consortium’s responsibility to manage their costs in meeting the requirements. Any incorrect assumptions or errors and omissions are the consortium’s responsibility.”

DESIGNING A SCHOOL The basis of the PPP is the output specifications. Following an expression of interest process, the Ministry invited three consortiums to respond to

the Request for Proposal (output specifications). Wozniak says the output specification lists the requirements – not the solutions. “The Ministry did not dictate the size and layout of the classrooms or outdoor spaces, it asked for solutions that responded to the proposed method of delivering the curriculum. The output specifications were aligned to the Ministry’s school property calculator that determines the indicative overall size and the functions required.” The Ministry worked closely with the board of trustees to establish their vision for the school. This vision was then translated into an education brief that helped define the output specifications. “The key difference is that the board of trustees was not asked what the classrooms look like but rather how they wanted to teach. After the teaching method was established (e.g. group learning, project spaces), we were able to define the output specifications,” says Wozniak. “During the tender phase, there were interactive tendering sessions that enabled the Ministry to provide comments on the concept designs presented by the consortiums. Bidders were also able to ask questions about whether their designs enabled the functionality. This addressed issues like size and relationships of space. Feedback (positive and negative) was provided that enabled the bidders to adjust their designs.”


ICT AND CLASSROOM FURNITURE: WHO DECIDES? The scope delineation between the consortiums requirements and the schools requirements are quite clear. “The consortium is responsible for installing the ICT Backbone Infrastructure,” says Wozniak. “The school determines what it wants to run on the infrastructure.” “In terms of furniture, all fixed and loose furniture is provided by consortium. The key rationale for this approach is to ensure that the design is coordinated between the building and the equipment. There is a real risk that a building can be designed in a particular way and then unsuitable furniture (often that looks and functions well on its own) does not suit. This overcomes that issue. “The board of trustees has the opportunity to make comment on the equipment and a number of refinements were introduced as a result of this feedback. All of the equipment is provided at the commencement of operations.” All furniture must comply with the Australian and New Zealand standards and a number of other performance criteria.

LESSONS LEARNED Wozniak says one of the most challenging aspects has been ensuring that the key project messages are understood by all of the stakeholders. “Many of the stakeholders make assumptions about what they consider a PPP to involve. These assumptions are often incorrect. The biggest error has been that many people believed that ‘education was being privatised’. The consortium has no responsibility for delivering the curriculum and all student responsibilities

“The key difference is that the board of trustees was not asked what the classrooms look like but rather how they wanted to teach. After the teaching method was established we were able to define the output specifications” remain with the board of trustees and school management.” Even so, the PPP procurement model represented a significant shift in responsibilities from the Ministry to the private sector and Wozniak describes this as the biggest challenge. “It has taken a significant amount of effort for all parties involved to learn and understand their roles and responsibilities. This outcome should now provide a positive base for the future.” Indeed, while Hobsonville Point has been a successful pilot for future PPP school projects, the Ministry has learned much from the experience. A ‘lessons learned’ log has been maintained by the Ministry throughout the duration of the project. Wozniak says the key issues that will be reviewed in the event that the Ministry

undertakes another PPP are: »» Minimising the bidding costs of the consortiums; »» Ensuring that the interactive tendering process maximises the feedback opportunities; »» Providing time for additional involvement of the board of trustees and school management into the tender and design review stages. So it appears the Ministry has successfully cut its PPP teeth on the Hobsonville Point schools, delivering the project on time and to budget, managing to quell concerns, and inform relevant parties about how it all works. Now the reins are passed to the school leaders and board of trustees to define the Hobsonville Point schools in terms beyond ‘public private partnership’. □

Save time & money

on your school’s ict requirements

with “AOG”

“Talk to us” about how “All of Government” can help your School make substantial savings and receive “Value for Money” when making purchases across the following areas: Computers, Office Consumables, Mobile Voice and Data, Print Devices, Vehicles, and Air Travel. For more information on how to sign up, visit our Schools page at:

www.procurement.govt.nz Or contact:

Jan Barnett - Schools Advisor email: coe@mbie.govt.nz, phone: 07 957 1886

EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

17


E-LEARNING

THE NETWORK IS NIGH N4L education sector lead, Carolyn Stuart.

T

JUDE BARBACK looks at why schools are in a rush to register their interest for the Network 4 Learning and what’s happening behind the scenes.

he buzz surrounding Network 4 Learning is getting increasingly loud as schools get closer to getting their hands on the new managed network. The Ministry of Education is working with Crown-owned company The Network for Learning Limited (N4L) to develop and operate a managed network for New Zealand schools. It will run over the best mix of ultrafast, rural, and remote broadband available to connect schools to secure, uncapped, reliable, and fast internet. Connection to the

network is also fully funded and completely voluntary for schools.

WHAT DO SCHOOLS THINK SO FAR? The first 21 schools transitioning to N4L were recently announced by Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye. It is not hard to understand why these schools and around 1350 others have already registered their interest in connecting to the network on N4L’s new website. Carolyn Stuart, N4L’s education sector lead, has been busy liaising with principal representative groups about N4L and says she

International Teacher Recruitment Specialists International schools are hiring now for February, and August 2014 starts Free registration available at

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EDUCATION REVIEWseries ICT & Procurement 2013

has received a “very enthusiastic response” so far. She says after every group she meets with to discuss N4L, there is another flurry of registrations. “Principals, as a group, understand how important technology is to the future of education,” she says. The fact that the network will be fully funded for schools is also a big drawcard. Indeed, Trevor Storr, director of e-learning at Waimate High School, describes his school’s decision to join the N4L as a “no-brainer” as it will provide “no-cost, unlimited internet, plus a portal for accessing resources”. Storr believes N4L will provide students and teachers with the best opportunities to do their job to the best of their ability by connecting with other schools and learners. Similarly, Brendon Henderson, principal of Tawa Intermediate, agrees that staff and students alike will benefit from better access to information and greater opportunities for collaboration and communication, “giving the opportunity to bring the world to our school gate as well as our school gate to the world!” As a principal, Henderson is hopeful that the network will enable him to communicate more effectively with his wider school community. “I would also hope that it will stretch me professionally as I see the innovation and creativity of my colleagues.” Stuart says N4L will make principals’ lives a lot easier. With many different tasks to juggle on a daily basis, it will come as a relief to know the network is not another thing to worry about. This is certainly true for Regan Orr, principal of Koputaroa School in Levin, who hopes subscribing to a managed network will mean any problems can be resolved externally, freeing his time to better run his school.

“It is my hope that N4L will provide us with a robust and reliable service, where any potential issues that could arise are managed by one company/ source,” he says.  Storr agrees. “As a network manager, maintaining our network will be less time consuming and more resilient as downloads will take less time and backups will be able to be replicated off-site.” Orr says his school registered for N4L as it seemed like an excellent opportunity to further support the growth and development of e-learning within our school. “The proposed capability of N4L to support us with connecting to fibre to ensure we have robust broadband and bandwidth means we will be able to further enhance the quality of integrating digital learning in our school.” Orr says the greatest advantage N4L could offer the school community is the reliability of high- speed broadband, where there is instant access to online content to support teaching and learning. “With N4L’s capability of providing an online collaborative environment, this will support and grow staff and student networks through a wider and global community. A networked community will allow students to make connections with others to add greater meaning and authenticity to their learning.”  Stuart says the introduction of N4L couldn’t come at a better time for teachers who are using digital technology more and more in the classroom. Storr concurs. “As a teacher, I will be able to use tools that need high bandwidth such as Google hangouts to communicate with colleagues and share ideas. In general terms, the N4L will act as a great leveller of opportunity and access where physical location becomes less relevant.” He says using applications such as Google apps for education and other online services allow teachers and students to access school work at home.


“We are also now able to begin exploring formal BYOD options as our connectivity will support a far greater number of devices.” Perhaps one of the more exciting aspects of N4L is that it presents a path into unknown opportunities. “I’m certain that there are many yet-to-be-thought-of opportunities waiting to be discovered,” says Storr. Alongside Darren Sudlow and Ken Pullar, Storr is currently in the process of forming a cooperative company, NetNZ, with 40 Canterbury and Otago schools, from the former CantaNet and OtagNet clusters. NetNZ will enable sustained innovation and development of quality online learning experiences to anyone, anywhere across New Zealand and beyond. Indeed, there appears to have been largely unbridled enthusiasm for the project, and Stuart says there have been very few concerns expressed by the sector. “The only reservation I have is the transition across to N4L and any potential issues that could arise from this,” says Orr.

WHAT STAGE ARE THINGS AT? While schools are playing the waiting game for now, the N4L team is flat out getting everything ready. Work to build the managed network began in August. “Our engineers are now busy working to ensure it is built to a high standard. This includes

making sure everything that will make it safe, secure, fast, and predictable to use is built into the network. It’s about providing the extra quality assurance. It’s also about ensuring schools have the right level of support they need to get connected and have an excellent experience when using it,” says Stuart. “In tandem to this, our team is now contacting registered schools to discuss their connection needs. We will use this information to help plan the network rollout and we will be open and transparent with schools about how we will do this.” Stuart says she perceives the biggest challenge to be connecting schools as rapidly as possible. “While we’d like to get every school connected right away, we need to get it right. We need to make sure schools have a good experience.” The first schools are expected to be connected by the end of 2013, with more than 700 schools connecting by the end of 2014. All schools will be able to connect to the managed network by the end of 2016 when all schools will have access to fibre and upgraded internal IT networks. Telecom has been selected as the network services provider tasked with helping N4L build the managed network. Stuart says that if schools want to get connected earlier they can consider contracting their own

“The proposed capability of N4L to support us with connecting to fibre to ensure we have robust broadband and bandwidth means we will be able to further enhance the quality of integrating digital learning in our school.” provider to do so, although she urges schools to negotiate contracts that are for no longer than 12 months – or with an affordable break fee. She confirms that most schools connected to ultra-fast broadband are considering this option.

THE N4L PORTAL Also under development is the N4L portal, which will essentially provide a collaborative, online community for teachers, students, and education professionals. The portal is designed to be an open, fair, and non-prescriptive environment. This means that any provider can sign up to be in the portal and any user can add any service they like. “All users will need to log in to the portal and we’re looking at the best way to streamline this process to make it easier for everyone. All portal users will be authenticated, which means that all online comments will be attributed to an identifiable person, resulting in a more positive and encouraging community environment,” says Stuart. Services will be rated by portal users and these ratings will be

reflected in search results and catalogue ordering. All providers and their services will be listed on the N4L portal. The portal will be available for all schools in early 2014. Schools will not need to be connected to the N4L’s managed network to be able to access the portal. The N4L portal and the managed network look set to take learning and collaboration to a new level for New Zealand schools and many can’t get connected fast enough. However, as Trevor Storr of Waimate High says, getting connected to the network is really just the beginning. He believes it is important people understand that the N4L is a starting point, not an objective. “The N4L, teachers, and schools need to understand that the pace of change will increase as connectivity increases. We need keep at the front of our minds that the opportunities the N4L provides are not just about receiving but about connecting and producing with others. The major benefits of the N4L will require a shift in mindset of how we view the nature of schooling, before they can be realised.” □

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E-LEARNING

TAKE A VIRTUAL ADVENTURE: THE FUTURE OF SCHOOL EXCURSIONS

From connecting students with subject-matter experts in Antarctica to meeting ‘face-to-face’ with other students in China, MARCI POWELL says video collaboration is breaking down the traditional boundaries of school excursions and transforming the way students learn and interact.

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s technology in various guises ─ such as social media, live chat, and videoconferencing ─ continues to infiltrate every aspect of our social, professional, and private lives, there is an enormous opportunity to embrace the range of additional capabilities the internet affords us. New Zealand schools and educational institutions are charged with preparing students for today’s digital world and global economy. The New Zealand Government has invested significantly in embedding critical digital literacy by ensuring school children will have access to the most innovative 21st century learning opportunities. This includes allocating $200 million to connect schools to ultra-fast broadband and a $157 million on School Network upgrades with further investment planned. The goal is ensuring New Zealand schools have access to affordable, safe, fast connections, as well as rich educational content and services. These technological advances are providing a new range of unique ways to educate students and are transforming the way New Zealand students are learning at school.

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VIRTUAL SCHOOL EXCURSIONS This growing convergence of technology, including faster network speeds and access to video collaboration technology, is allowing schools to explore new ways of teaching that are enriching students’ learning experiences. School excursions are a prime example. In recent years, traditional school excursions have become less common, primarily due to growing concerns around student safety, increased transportation costs, higher insurance premiums, and fewer resources. With faster bandwidth becoming widely available, we are seeing more schools address this gap for knowledge using video technology to participate in virtual excursions. A virtual excursion means schools use unified communication solutions such as video conferencing to virtually travel and interact with peers, conduct lectures with subject-matter expects from other parts of New Zealand, the Asia Pacific region, or the world to offer students the

highly engaging and interactive experience of a traditional excursion without the associated strict duty of care policies and costs. With live, high-definition video and audio, schools now have access to virtual education events that allow students to break traditional boundaries such as trekking into the jungles of Borneo to learn about deforestation or observe the transit of Venus with commentary from a professor in astronomy. It enables students to interact with others and engage in discussion and is a highly effective way of increasing the absorption of knowledge.


An example of this includes ReefHQ Aquarium in Townsville, North Queensland, which uses video collaboration solutions to virtually take classrooms on underwater fact-finding missions. ReefHQ offers students the ability to learn about the value of the Great Barrier Reef, the threats to its sustainable future, and their role in protecting it, all from the students’ classroom. Schools link up via video to the coral reef at ReefHQ Aquarium and information is delivered in real-time, by a scuba diver.

REMOTE EDUCATION A country with a significant urban and rural divide, New Zealand presents its own set of unique challenges when it comes to offering worldclass education services. Technology is creating ‘borderless education’. With high-definition video, video-on-demand such as lecture capture, and mobile devices with visual collaboration capabilities, schools can extend their reach across borders, improving students’ access to knowledge and expertise and creating new educational offerings. Technology plays a pivotal role in facilitating education through increased collaboration, particularly in remote locations. By linking up with other schools around the country or the world, teachers and students gain access to global knowledge and expertise. Examples include joint seminars with participants from across country, or students taking a virtual excursion with a remote instructor. Teachers no longer rely solely on what used to be available in a single classroom or faculty, by connecting communities everyone benefits from shared resources and capabilities.

COLLABORATIVE EDUCATION Technology in education remains one of the New Zealand Government’s top priorities as seen by its 21st Century Learning initiative. Future focused, it aims to make young New Zealanders some of the world’s most digitally literate citizens, enabling them to be more innovative and better able to compete in a modern economy. Through mobile devices such as tablets, interactive whiteboards, and unified communication solutions, New Zealand students are now experiencing learning in a more interactive and innovative way of learning than ever before. Not only is it bridging the gap between rural and urban, it is also helping to overcome New Zealand’s ‘tyranny of distance’, giving schools the ability to provide educational and cultural learning experiences across borders. Borderless education is here, and it’s extending students’ reach and access to knowledge to create global citizens. Virtual excursions play an important part in aiding this new approach to education. □ Marci Powell is the global director of education at Polycom Inc.

GREATER CHRISTCHURCH SCHOOLS NETWORK THE GREATER CHRISTCHURCH Schools Network (GCSN) is a successful cluster of primary, intermediate, and secondary schools, with significant support and enthusiasm at school leadership level, and links with tertiary education and the business community. GCSN’s initial video conferencing experience started at the Learning Centre in Christchurch, using equipment supplied by Asnet Technologies Limited and Polycom. Here, GCSN learnt about the “global experience that video conferencing can deliver” through Polycom global education events and the capabilities of the equipment. With video conferencing now integral to GCSN curriculum delivery methodologies, the network has evolved in line with technology improvements. To ensure a secure environment GCSN has transferred their network to the Ministry of Education’s nationwide cloud-based video conferencing service ‘VideoNet’ also provided by Asnet Technologies Limited. CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKES The Christchurch earthquakes have opened up a number of learning opportunities and the chance to connect GCSN schools with fascinated students and teachers from around the world. Riccarton and Papanui High students connected with the Dr Egbert School in Calgary, Canada to discuss community resiliency and how they reacted and responded to this natural disaster. Thorrington Primary and Heaton Normal Intermediate also connected with Pt England School and Takapuna Primary schools in Auckland. Experiences and stories were shared via video recordings embedded on Wiki online collaborative pages, links to their school web page, illustrative images, and oral storytelling, all of which were able to be shared as content or live during the videoconferences. THREE COUNTRIES, THREE STORIES Japanese, Australian, and New Zealand students and teachers also connected via a video call to share their natural disaster stories of earthquakes, tsunamis, and flooding. They created and shared presentations on environmental design and how to help the planet. This included students from Cashmere Primary School in Christchurch, Yasawa Elementary School in Fukushima, and Milton Primary School in Queensland. TEACHER TRAINING GCSN provides training for teachers in the network wanting to incorporate video conferencing into their classroom. With a mixture of face-to-face and video calls, GCSN’s Margot McKeegan discusses how to plan and incorporate video collaboration into the classroom-teaching model. Mentors are also being found for teachers to connect with, to offer specialist teaching advice on particular subjects, all via video conferencing. □

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DIGITAL DEVICES

THERE’S NO IPAD IN TEAM

OR IS THERE? Tablet devices are excellent for individual independent learning, but do they promote collaboration in the classroom? JUDE BARBACK finds out.

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ack in the old days, many teachers were unsure exactly how to share their single lonely computer among a class of 20 or more kids. The lonely Apple Macintosh sitting at the back of the classroom, with a rota system allocating 15-minute slots to every student during the week, was a common sight to behold. This was acceptable; beyond word processing and rudimentary games, there weren’t many reasons to use the cumbersome classroom computer of the 1980s. Now, of course, there are endless ways to use technology in the classroom, and with BYOD and the large number of ICTs available in schools, most students of today will never understand what it means to wait patiently for their turn with the joystick. However, in some learning environments where there is a single iPad or tablet device per classroom, it appears the student rota system is experiencing a renaissance. It isn’t uncommon, particularly in early childhood settings, for children to be allocated their 10-minute slot on the iPad or given turns to take it home.

INDIVIDUAL LEARNING There is nothing wrong with turn-taking, or with giving children the opportunity to engage with the technology individually. In fact, Clark and Luckin’s research this year into using iPads in the classroom shows that teachers felt that the iPads enabled them to promote independent learning, to differentiate learning more easily for different student needs, and to easily share resources both with students and with each other. While individual ownership of tablet devices is thought to be key to this, a recent Norwegian study (Gasparini, 2012) showed how a class of students who took turns with the class’s communal iPads were still able to personalise them to suit their individual learning. It was discovered that one student with reading difficulties had added free apps that supported text-to-speech. The fact that he had been able to identify and obtain useful assistive technology to support his additional needs illustrates the ease with which iPads and similar tablet devices can be customised to suit individual needs.

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After all, iPads and other tablet devices are geared up towards the individual. Educationalists often talk about the four C’s of 21st century education: critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation. Tablet devices are certainly good at engaging individual students in critical thinking and creativity; they are, after all, consumer products, designed to be used by one person at a time, not necessarily by teams of students. But what role does the iPad have in aiding collaboration? Henderson and Yeow’s 2012 research into iPad use in a New Zealand primary school classroom showed that the iPad provided learners with “much better opportunities for collaboration than were possible in the past”. They found that the finger-driven interface allows students to interact with the device at the same time and with the same object, enhancing and stimulating simultaneous opportunities for face-to-face social interaction in ways that desktop, laptop and even netbook computing with a mouse-driven screen, ‘individual’ peripherals, fixed location, weight, and overall design do not.

COLLABORATION WITH 1:1 DEVICES The networked nature of the iPad also allowed students to collaborate or compete using shared apps. This is particularly possible in settings where students have access to 1:1 devices. An article recently published in the THE Journal by David Raths illustrates how collaboration can be fostered in this way. Jennie Magiera, a digital learning coordinator for a network of 25 Chicago public schools, says that certain apps like Schoology, a learning management/social media system, can transform learning. She gives the example of a maths class in which students are shown a picture of a crowded room with 40 people and three pizzas each divided into eight slices. The teacher then asks ‘What does this picture make you wonder?’ and rather than wait for students to start shouting out answers, teachers use Schoology as a back-channel chat room in which students can start raising questions, such as: ‘how many slices per person?’ and ‘how big is the diameter of the pizza?’

They then vote on each other’s suggestions and approaches to solving the problem. “This also allows the teacher to record and see the types of questions and answers all the students are offering,” Magiera explains. “You could walk around 30 students and try to assess that, but Schoology records it and it levels the playing field for the teacher, who can see the wallflowers as well as the children who are yelling over the other kids.”

SHARED DEVICES Of course, this can easily be replicated when everyone has an iPad, but if we return to shared devices, how is such collaboration to be mastered? Certain apps are ideal for situations when a class might have several iPads for sharing among its students. The THE Journal article makes reference to several, including Scribble Press, an app that allows students to work in groups to create their own e-books, including text and illustrations. It can then be posted in iBooks for teachers and other students to read. Popplet, a


graphic organiser that allows a teacher to project images from an iPad to a whiteboard, is another app that allows students to work in groups and organise their ideas into ‘webs’. They can incorporate photos they take or add freehand drawings as well as text. Henderson and Yeow’s study showed that as a collaborative learning tool, teachers generally found the tablet’s portability and ability to be passed from peer to peer more use than the multitouch facility, which, while a technical reality, didn’t work well in practice as the device was too small for more than one student to manipulate the touch-screen at one time. However, technology companies are coming up with solutions everyday to enhance the collaborative nature of tablet devices. Tablet accessory industry leader, Belkin International, has recently developed a range of products designed specifically for the modern classroom, including the Belkin Tablet Stage, a stand that turns any tablet into an interactive presentation tool. The tablet stage and accompanying

app enables teachers and students to share documents. The document camera mode makes it easy to capture images and live video for display or projection, and the accompanying app enables educators to sketch, annotate, and capture live video for the recording of engaging tutorials for future use or sharing. “As today’s schools embrace the interactive power of tablets, they seek to make it less of an individual device and more of a collaborative tool. As such, the use of tablets in the classroom is growing at an amazing rate as educators integrate these marvelous innovations into their curriculum,” explains Daniel Hall, product marketing manager for Belkin ANZ. The Belkin Tablet Stage is now available in New Zealand via Exeed and Ingram Micro; resellers also include Cyclone and TTS. It has a recommended retail price of $314.95.

TEACHER TRUMPS TECHNOLOGY Regardless of the device:student ratio, or the device itself, or the accessories, experts

generally agree that the teacher interaction is still king when it comes to children’s learning. Siraj-Blatchford and Siraj-Blatchford (2006) suggest that while ICTs work well in supporting communication, collaboration, creativity, and meta-cognition, achieving quality adult interactions is more important than the tools themselves. Hatherly, Ham & Evans reached similar conclusions in their 2009 report summarising practitioner research in sixty New Zealand early childhood centres. The teacher’s challenge when it comes to tablets and other ICTs in the classroom is to find ways of using them that support both individual learning and collaboration. While tablets are fast becoming ubiquitous and the reality of 1:1 is getting closer, there will always be some new and expensive device that may require a rostered approach ─ just like the single lonely Apple computer in the 80s classroom ─ while the teacher figures out how to make it work for the benefit of all students’ learning. □

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PRIVACY

SURRENDER AND RETAIN

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The new Education Amendment Act will allow teachers to search and seize student devices in order to hold perpetrators of cyber bullying to account, but student privacy issues prove to be a sticky issue. By JUDE BARBACK.

hadn’t heard of the social networking website ask.fm until I heard of British teenager Hannah Smith’s taking her own life because of anonymous abuse received through the site. When the news spiralled over here and Kiwi parents began voicing their concerns about ask.fm as well, out of sheer morbid curiosity, I decided to take a look at the controversial site. And sure enough, there it was, cluttered with Kiwi teenagers publicly answering all manner of questions from all manner of people, some known to them, many anonymous. It didn’t take me long to find evidence of the ‘haters’ that must have driven Hannah Smith to suicide. Unsavoury and offensive comments concerning people’s appearance, promiscuity, and sexual orientation appeared regularly on most profiles from anonymous users. Online watchdog Netsafe claims that cyberbullying of this sort is prolific in New Zealand, stating that one in five secondary school students report being bullied online or via text message. Yet, they keep coming back for more. One parent of a New Zealand teenager remarked despairingly that the number of wifi hotspots and gadgets that can access the net make it difficult to prevent their children from accessing such sites. This parent makes a valid point. The internet is ubiquitous and so very accessible. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative, in which students are encouraged to bring their own laptop or tablet to school, is largely thought to be a positive step for students’ learning. In March last year, the Ministry of Education renewed its 2009 agreement with Microsoft to supply schools nationwide with unlimited servers. Combined with the rollout of ultrafast broadband in New Zealand schools, there is a clear nod to internet accessibility for students. But the darker side of BYOD is that it increases students’ negative online activity as well, and schools have been left wondering how exactly to cope. The Education Amendment Act 2013, which passed in June this year, is thought to provide schools with an answer. The new act, famed largely for breathing life into the controversial

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partnership schools initiative, also gives teachers the right to confiscate students’ internet-capable devices to find evidence of cyberbullying if it is suspected. The new ‘surrender and retention powers’, which are thought to legitimise what is already being practised in many schools, come into play on 1 January 2014. The Ministry of Education is currently developing rules and guidelines on searches and the surrender and retention of property, in consultation with the education sector. The Government is pushing hard against cyber bullying. In April this year, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced a raft of proposals that, when passed through Parliament, will effectively render cyberbullying illegal.

Under the new proposals , it would be an offence to send messages and post material online that is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene, menacing, or knowingly false. To do so could land the perpetrator in prison for up to three months or with a $2000 fine. It would also be an offence to incite someone to commit suicide, punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. But as younger teens can’t be imprisoned or fined, it is not surprising there is much support for the new laws to enable schools to seize and search students’ devices if cyberbullying is suspected. However, the Act’s new surrender and retention powers have raised concerns over breaching students’ privacy. Regardless of what evidence of bullying might lie on it, the confiscated phone or iPad will likely contain other personal information belonging to that student. For example, while social media posts are generally fodder for all, emails tend to be more private in nature. The Children’s Commissioner’s submission on the Education Amendment Bill warned that by granting surrender and retention powers to teachers could put schools in risk of breaching children’s rights. The submission highlighted grey areas of the bill, such as how long a device can be confiscated for and exactly what can be searched. While the rules and guidelines are still being fine-tuned, it appears teachers are unlikely to be able to conduct blanket searches of a student’s electronic devices, or without their permission, although discipline can be used should a pupil refuse to allow the search. A Fairfax digipoll conducted earlier this year, before the Education Amendment Act was passed, revealed that of 1317 respondents, just 14 per cent felt that to seize students’ personal technology was in breach of their privacy. The vast majority (just under 83 per cent) thought schools should be able to seize students’ phones and laptops if cyberbullying is suspected. The surrender and retention powers might have snuck in under the radar somewhat, sailing quietly under the wings of the Act’s more controversial clauses. However, the changes look set to help teachers address a serious and growing problem that is happening under their noses. □


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Education Review: ICT & Procurement 2013