A Little Reflection

I’ve learned so much since I got to New Zealand, but my mind is not in the best condition to be learning.  I’m tiring easily and am now feeling some diminished capacity from the jet lag.  Tomorrow I do three presentations in Dunedin, on the South Island, and then fly home on Sunday.  Of course it’s still Thursday in the U.S. so I’ll be presenting on Friday in home time, flying home on Saturday, and arriving the same day that I left.  It strains the mind!

Learning@School a unique conference.  The NZ government has a huge program to provide professional development for schools that request it.  They have already reached more than 600 of their approximately 2,500 schools.  There are facilitators who are employed by the government who manage the program, and it appears to be a train-the-trainers approach.  The trainers are attending the conference, tech coordinators, principals, and teachers.  So these are the most tech savvy of the country.  Tough  audience. 

It’s an interesting model.  The schools have to invest in the technology — the hardware, software, and infrastructure.  Once they’ve done that, then the government provides the professional development, and they have done a great deal of research and work to provide grounded and effective models of professional development.  A lot of it involves visioning as well as nuts-and-bolts of tech operation and integration.  Some very smart people are driving this, and the NZ Government is keen to see it work for the country.  As I said yesterday, they have a great deal of confidence in their teachers to set and implement curriculum.  But that only happens with strong professional development.

Another thing that has struck me is how lucky we are in the U.S.  New Zealand is not the only country that I have worked in where schools are paying full price for their Internet usage.  It is terribly expensive and a huge drain on their budgets.  Yet they are paying, because they know that this is the information infrastructure that their students should be learning from and learning through.  We are so very lucky to have e-rate, and I continue to be astounded by the visionaries who saw the need and made it happen, and those who have continued to champion and protect the program.

Time to prepare for today’s session on the Magic of the Web — RSS.  Such a fitting place to play wizard and to reveal magic to people — such hospitable people, I might add.

New Zealand readers:  If I have gotten any of this wrong, or if you can add more about the professional development program, please comment.

9 thoughts on “A Little Reflection”

  1. Hi David – thanks to my friend Allanah King who was in your audience on Friday morning, placing her laptop with a skype call in motion on the floor near you – I was actually able to sit in my lounge at 9.20pm Thursday evening ( in Wales) and listen live to you chatting with the teachers in the room on RSS and aggregators – interesting stuff . I hope you will extend your permission for me to podcast on http://podfather.podomatic.com the snippet of you talk I got before I lost the link to New Zealand – it is really a ‘flat world’

  2. Yours is the only educator blog I check on daily via Bloglines. Always interesting. Always perceptive. Always worth reading. I’m an about-your-age administrator who since the days of Apple II has wondered why technology has so llittle changed schools as we know them. Ever watch Wiseman”s “High School?”

  3. Hi, David, just wanted to let you know that business and education are really beginning to come together in New Zealand.
    My school is part of the Champion schools programme run by http://sitech.elearning.ac.nz/ Sitech here in New Zealand. They have around 40 schools across the country on the programme building links and blogs and podcasts and IWB’s a whole network centred around their Interactive Wiki. if you get chance it may be worth a look. Jenny Barrett- (jenny@sitech.co.nz) is the lead educator. She’s one cool Web 2.0er.

    Sorry, someone needs to tell me how to embed hyperlinks into these comment

  4. David,

    Sure, schools in the United States are lucky to have e-rate but I wonder if you sense that the people who care about technology in New Zealand have more influence to implement technological programs throughout the country than people who care about technology in the U.S. So often I feel as if people just don’t get it in the States. I guess that’s our job, to help them get it.

    Andrew Pass

  5. Hi David sorry to have missed you in New Zealand. As an ex facilitator of the professional development programme you outline in this post I thought I’d clarify for your readers that the facilitators are not directly employed by the NZ government to facilitate a specific programme. Clusters of schools get together and apply for a pool of funding to spend on professional development. Their application must outline the programme they intend to implement but it is up to each cluster to formulate and own the programme. The conference you have just spoken at is one of the ways all those involved get together to share ideas and resources. The up side of this sort of development is that it is truly owned by the schools that participate. They get to shape the professional development and have it meet their needs. Some clusters employ a full time facilitator, others release teachers to facilitate, others employ contract facilitators. It is up to each cluster to determine what works for them.

    Is your keynote on a podcast anywhere I could listen to it?

    Cheers and I hope you have had a good time. Come back and holiday sometime.

    Paul Wilkinson

  6. Really enjoyed the conference. Learnt heaps! Finally I know how use RSS, aggregators and wikis thanks to your sessions, David. I can’t wait to enhance the connectivity of our existing bloggiverse. Also some interesting ideas about bringing the world of gaming into class through discussion. Perhaps the girls will create a Sims version of our class whilst the boys have us all massacred in Halo.
    Oh – and thanks for the nodding tip. I shall use it on my own tough audience at school.
    David Woody

  7. Thank you for your presentations at Learningatschool.

    I get how the RSS thing works now and have even done the Technocrai thing and it worked! YAY!

    This comment is a virtual leap out of my chair as I was too shy to while you were talking.

    Cheers David

    Have a safe journey home.


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