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New curriculum, new responsibilities for e-learning

There’s plenty to consider in the new curriculum from an e-learning perspective. How will it affect teachers and their use of technology? We asked the Ministry’s Sarah Jones to outline its impact on ICT in the classroom.

The New Zealand Curriculum (English medium) gives new emphasis to the contribution of e-learning to teaching and learning. e-Learning is about more than students learning to use ICT, but about developing the dispositions, competencies and knowledge that will prepare our young people for the 21st century. It plays an essential role in meeting the curriculum’s vision of young people as confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners.

School-based curriculum
The new curriculum is a framework within which schools can design a local curriculum that meets the aspirations and needs of their communities and their students. The curriculum emphasises that schools should focus on their students gaining a deeper understanding of important concepts and on learning how to learn, in preference to simply covering curriculum content.

Deeper learning is more likely to occur when students learn in contexts relevant to their lives and can apply their new knowledge. ICT itself is an engaging, motivating context for young people. ICT contributes to creating authentic learning experiences by allowing students to share and collaborate within their peer networks and put their learning into action for the benefit of their communities. The Living Heritage project, for example, lets students create Web pages for their community, whanau and friends.

Personalising learning
Personalising learning describes education practices that respond to the needs of all students, taking into account their strengths, aspirations and needs. Digital resources and interactive software programs give teachers options to accommodate individual, cultural or developmental differences. Check out the learning objects in TKI’s Digistore and a list of quality software on TKI’s Software for Learning. e-Learning provides opportunities for students and teachers to question, conceptualise and creatively express their learning in ways that are meaningful to them. It is also a means for students to collaborate with communities of learners beyond the classroom.

In learning environments that foster creativity and collaboration in a range of social and cultural contexts, difference is the norm and the diversity of our young people and of the people who support their learning contributes, rather than being a barrier, to educational success. Sunnybrae Normal School’s hand message project on their school blog shows us their approach.

Students at the centre
The curriculum challenges us to put students at the centre of teaching and learning. This has been a focus for some time, but now we are thinking about this in new ways. Putting students at the centre means not only creating the conditions for successful learning, but creating successful learners. We can foster lifelong learners by including students in decisions about their own learning, for example, involving them in the design of classroom activities, helping them to set goals and monitor their own learning progress and achievements, and strengthening their key competencies across the range of learning areas.

It’s difficult to conceive how the change needed to put the learner at the centre can happen without e-learning. Technology redistributes responsibility for managing and regulating learning from the teacher to both the teacher and student. Outside the classroom, students are taking an active role in producing the knowledge and media they use, for example, creating blogs, podcasts, wikis and social networks.

Inside the classroom, we can adapt these environments and tools to provide new ways to develop and guide learners who are able to exercise greater independence, think critically and act responsibly in relation to others. Have a listen to the weekly podcast by Point England Primary School’s students.

Effective teaching
The curriculum encourages a culture of continuous innovation and improvement in schools, and e-learning provides opportunities to explore new ways of teaching and learning. Integrated and inquiry approaches combined with ICT can be a useful context for beginning the process of sharing responsibility for learning with students.

Effective teachers enquire into the impact of their teaching on their students – ICT has a role here, too. Digital tools such as asTTle help teachers to use assessment data to plan and provide evidence of student progress, and online professional learning communities connect teachers across geographical boundaries to share and reflect on their teaching practice.

These are just some of the ways that e-learning can support schools with curriculum development, professional inquiry and creating the learning environments envisaged in the new national curriculum. The e-Learning Team at the Ministry of Education is working with schools to provide resources, professional development and advice. Contact us atruth.hughes@minedu.govt.nz or visit the ICT kete at http://www.tki.org.nz

SARAH JONES IS A SENIOR ADVISOR WITH THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION’S E-LEARNING TEAM.

Living Heritage – http://www.livingheritage.org.nz/index.php ;
Digistore – http://www.tki.org.nz/r/digistore ;
Software for Learning – http://www.tki.org.nz/r/ict/software ;
Sunnybrae Normal School – http://room12sns.blogspot.com/2007/11/hand-message-project.html ;
Point England Primary School – http://kpetv.blogspot.com

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