Josie Woon talks about the potential of Enabling e-Learning community groups to impact on teacher practice.
The most useful aspect of the VLN and the Enabling e-Learning groups is the regular contact that you have with teachers.
I find sometimes you can look for information and you get no feedback but with the VLN you can post, you can email, and within the day, pretty much you’ve got an answer to your question. So it’s immediate and it’s New Zealand feedback which I find is really valuable. It’s teachers that you know are in the same sort of classrooms as you, it’s facilitators, that are online, that can help you when you have an issue, and that’s what I like. Within 24 hours you’ve got an answer to your problem or a discussion is begun up, that you’re going to carry on with over the next two weeks.
When I first joined the VLN I looked for a while. I manipulate my way around different groups, and see what was going on, and look at the discussion and I felt I wasn’t really equipped enough to join in, and then when I started to see teachers just asking questions and being really honest about the information they didn’t have, I thought well I probably can start contributing now or asking my own questions.
So it was probably about two or three months after I joined before I felt confident enough to put my first post on. I saw that I actually had more knowledge than I thought I did, and I didn’t really need to sit back and watch anymore. Some of the questions were things that I was doing in my classroom already, and I decided to just share that knowledge in the hope that another teacher like myself would be able to pick some of that up and run with it. Because I didn’t have that when I first started with my technology journey, and I felt it would be neat if it was able to spur on a new teacher or give them an idea that they could trial, and if it worked for them it would be fantastic.
My dashboard’s just set up with my friend feed, so it rolls through with friends and what they are commenting on at the moment, and also my groups that I have joined it shows all the different activity going on at the time. Especially for people like Dorothy Bird and Allanah King who I follow. Anything they post on, I try to have a look at straight away. The biggest potential for the Virtual Learning Network is the ability for all teachers, regardless of where they are in the country, to be able to participate and join in on discussions. I mean you’re not – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a country school or you’re a school with 20 teachers, you’re able to have a voice here as well.
So some of these amazing teachers out there, that just don’t get their messages across, or the wonderful things that them and their children are doing in their classroom. So I think this is a great place that we can all share, things that you don’t think someone else will value, you might put on and someone is like, “That’s exactly what I need right now”. So I think it’s got the potential to be an amazing professional learning community, I just hope that teachers around the country can see it’s value and will join in and further our development together.