Cyclone has a team of e-learning specialists that work with schools to ensure the learning outcomes within their strategic plans are aligned with their technical capability. Here we talk to three of them about their work.
Arnika Brown, e-Learning Facilitator
Almost a year ago, Arnika Brown swapped her role as a classroom teacher at Mt Somers Springburn School, in Ashburton, for a teacher training role with Cyclone, specialising in Microsoft applications. She’s passionate about her role, describing the work as “empowering” and “inspiring”.
“I think it’s really important to work alongside what the school has already created and integrate technology into it, rather than start again. It’s been very empowering to work with teachers and support them a tailored, meaningful PD to be more confident to use ICT in the classroom.”
She believes a key to successful professional development is providing real examples of ICT being used successfully – something that her own recent classroom experiences help her to achieve.
Relevant to classroom practice
“I have worked with the technology. My class had a 1:1 laptop programme and we used OneDrive to collaborate and Weebly to communicate with our community. All of the content I deliver is relevant to classroom practice, as I have used an element of it in mine. I am also just about to graduate with my Post Grad Dip endorsed in eLearning and Digital Technology through UC. I think schools also want someone who is passionate about education.”
Arnika admits one of the biggest challenges is teachers finding the time to fit in PD. But the benefits are well worth the effort.
“From my experience, I was always thinking about what I was going to do next, whether it was reports, planning, meetings, camp, or trying to be a mum at home. That’s why I make sure I work with staff on things they have already planned for where we can integrate new ideas and technology into it. It’s always so much more meaningful when you come away with something you can go and do straight away.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with schools and hear their stories. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to meet very inspiring people – and inspiring to see students and teachers having an awesome time using technology.
“Technology can be quite daunting, so when I work with staff and then they come back and say they have changed one little thing that has made their life so much easier, it is very rewarding.”
Arnika can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saunil Hagler, e-Learning Specialist
From Birkenhead College to Albany Junior High School, and CloudPal to Cyclone, Saunil Hagler has a decade’s experience of e-learning and technology – and will also be graduating at the end of the year with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (endorsement in e-Learning) from Massey University. He believesthis enables him to relate to educators at various levels, understanding their frustrations and overcoming challenges they may face, while successfully developing their e-learning strategy.
“Teachers and educational leaders are crying out for meaningful professional development opportunities, so that students are able to access personalised learning experiences, no matter what their circumstances.
“I teach teachers how to think about and use technology. A key part of my job is to help them on the coal face to develop their own skill set with technology and, therefore, integrate it moreeffectively into their learning environments and realise high-level learning outcomes inaccessible without the technology.
“I work with leadership to develop their e-learning vision and a strategy to achieve it. I can also assist schools in communicating and promoting their vision to key stakeholders, such as students, teachers, whanau and the wider community.”
Using best practice principles
Saunil describes his approach as “evidence based” and aligns his training with best practice principles, such as in the eLearning Planning Framework.
“Up until a month ago, I was a classroom teacher and e-learning coordinator, who integrated technology into my classroom, so as to enhance learning for my students. I can help teachers use technology – not as a whimsical fancy but as a set of tools that improves educational outcomes for their learners.
“Through my relationship with HP, I’m able to offer schools experienced support services, which draw on numerous case studies of schools undertaking this same process around the country. “
The biggest challenge to successful PD is keeping it real, and connecting to the challenges that teachers face every day in the classroom, rather than a perceived best-case scenario, which for many teachers isn’t a reality, says Saunil.
“There’s a need for people like myself to work with other teachers and help them use technology effectively. We have to work within the realities that teachers face, so being experienced in that myself makes a difference. I empower teachers to use technology with their learners, not only improving educational outcomes for learners but also improving teaching experiences for teachers.”
Saunil can be contacted at email@example.com
Julia Parker, Professional Development Manager
She might have started out in sales at Cyclone but Julia quickly realised that “selling stuff” wasn’t a driving force for her. Drawing on her own teaching and technology experiences, she’s more at home helping teachers making the most of opportunities that ICT presents.
“I love helping people. I feel a huge sense of achievement every time I work with someone who learns how to do something new, gets those ‘Aha’ kind of moments, and then watching their confidence and enjoyment grow. I love learning new things and sharing what I know. I get to do it every day. You can’t beat that.”
Julia sees her role as providing guidance around what is best practice, what others have done and what will work best for the current attitude and experience of existing staff members.
“So many people tell me they’d like to be able to use technology competently in the classroom but don’t know how to get there. I have developed a step-by-step plan that is a bit like a training schedule. I teach skills and techniques, management structures and give ideas for using technology to move you to the point where you can run by yourself.
Redefining teaching methods
“I think instantly of one teacher I started with at the beginning of this year. He was keen and wanted to learn but was stuck on his passwords. We solved this quickly and began by learning how to record sound on his iPad. By the end of Term 2, he had flipped his classroom and was quickly stepping up through tasks that redefined the way he operated as a teacher.”
How many times do you walk into a classroom and see either the same as what you yourself experienced when you went to school, or what was being done essentially 15 years ago, asks Julia.
“Sadly all too often. Training and guidance is very meaningful when it is targeted to achieve specific goals, and when it is personal. Working with a teacher to help them to grow in their knowledge and understanding and watching just how much progress they can make when they are guided along a path to success is totally fulfilling and the reason I do what I do.
“By improving the skills and abilities of a teacher, you are, in fact, helping so many more people on a daily basis and into the future. It spreads your circle of influence.”
Julia can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Arnika Brown, Saunil Hagler and Julia Parker were talking to INTERFACE Editor Greg Adams.
For more information about Cyclone’s e-Learning Specialists call 0800 686 686 or visit www.cyclone.co.nz
A partnered approach to PLD
“Cyclone implements a partnered approach, working on strategic teaching and learning plans as scoped and agreed by all stakeholders. The best approach to helping schools utilise technology to deliver the curriculum is ensuring that staff and e-learning teams are upskilled continuously. Rather than simply delivering ad hoc courses, our e-learning specialists can implement a strategic teaching and learning plan delivering long-term development of the skills required to use ICT effectively to improve learning outcomes.
“Within our Professional Learning and Development (PLD) focus we cover the five dimensions of the eLearning Planning Framework.
- Leadership and strategic direction
- Professional learning
- Teaching and Learning
- Technologies and Infrastructure
- Beyond the classroom
“The key to being a good service provider to a school is being connected to it pedagogical goals. We can provide in-depth professional ICT services, supporting cross-platform, cloud-based technologies and assisting e-learning leaders and teachers to deliver better learning outcomes.”
By Leigh Gibbard, National Sales Manager – Schools, Cyclone
Categories: Issue 58