Monday, September 05, 2016

NZ COOL - elearning from home for school kids - impact on tertiary education in NZ

A flurry of activity in the NZ blogsphere and slight reactions in the news media from NZ Minister of Education's recent announcement. Minister Hekia Parata advocated for schools to keep up with 21st century learning and the use of technology to allow students to complete schooling from home called COOL - community of online learning.

NZ has a history of distance education at the school level due to it's small population and geographical spread. The NZ correspondence school - te aho o te kura pounamu has a history going back almost a century of providing distance education to students living in remote country farms.

Generally positive reaction was provided by Derek Wenmouth from CORE ED and Dr. Steve Maharey, vice chancellor at Massey University. Both cautioned for the need to be circumspect. COOL should not just be about shifting to a different mode of learning. 21st century learning is to ensure students gain knowledge and skills to allow them to participate and contribute to the society they live in.

Critiques abound, with opinion pieces from education journalist, overviews from opposition parties and a summary from the Science education sector. Overall, good to see actual discussion on the topic.

In tertiary and vocational education, elearning has been percolating for two decades. There are some excellent examples of good practice in the NZ ITP (polytechnics or community colleges / further education) sector, but they are small when the scale of things is considered. The MAIN observation from my point of view, as an observer over the last 20 years and a contributor to the cause, is the following. NOT all vocational / applied learning is suitable for conversion to on-line learning. To work well, both students and teachers require digital literacy / fluency and learning to learn skills before on-line learning is embarked on. Careful selection of the types of learning that will work well for on-line learning is a key. Then, its a matter of 'listen to the learners', building confidence and capability with teachers and continual monitoring and support. Only then, will outcomes from on-line learning match the ones we currently meet with f2f delivery.

1 comment:

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