Josie Woon, Assistant Principal at Takaro School, talks about how and why she uses the Virtual Learning Network. The community has helped her integrate technology into her class in a purposeful way by enabling her to connect with other "expert" teachers.
I first joined the Virtual Learning Network about two years ago. It was probably not long after it started. So, it was just join up to be part of the cluster and if there was any information that the cluster shared I would try and have a look at that. I made sure I joined the cluster group, and then from there I would just browse. And, I’m also involved in literacy so I joined a couple of literacy groups to see what information they would be able to give me to further my professional knowledge to then share with my staff.
As we all know, learning is a social action and we get to learn from each other and with each other, and in terms of doing this online when we don’t have to leave our house, we get to share content and resources and even get to share our teaching experiences whether they are good, bad or otherwise. People will often share their opinions, tips and tricks and provide support for other people. It really is about building, and in terms of the Enabling e-Learning community groups about building e-learning knowledge.
My main motivation for joining the Virtual Learning Network is my growing interest in ICT and integrating them into my classroom. And, I just thought it was a New Zealand based group, which I was really excited about because I found lots of the information that I’d googled would be overseas and didn’t often pertain to our curriculum and our children.
When I first joined the VLN, I found that I visited every so often. So, it was probably every month or so, I’d have a quick look and I’d get the regular emails. But as I’ve become more entrenched in technology in my classroom I’m visiting it every day probably at the moment.
I get lots of emails through and I save those and I flick through to a post and I’ll comment or I’ll keep it in my inbox to make sure I go back and check it. And I also check the Enabling e-Learning newsletter that comes through. And, I try and bookmark any webinars or anything on those that I need to look into as the term goes on.
Josie’s story inside the Virtual Learning Network is really an effective story of how teachers can engage with each other, seek new knowledge, build knowledge together and collaboratively share online.
It really shows the confidence to be able to ask advice off others and even offer advice to others, and that’s exactly what growing an online professional learning community’s all about. The whole cross-collaboration of ideas so that new understandings and new ways of working can be transferrable in the classroom.
For me, it’s being able to integrate technology in my class in a purposeful way. The VLN’s amazing for that because it can bring in experts in areas that I don’t have, and I’m able to tap into them on an ongoing basis with problems along my journey. So it’s, and also setting up children to be independant and setting up their own projects. So, for them to be able to come to me and say, “I want to make a movie,” or “I want to do an animation,” or “I want to do a digital story in photography,” and be able to use the iPads in a way that facilitates this learning. And then, if there’s something I don’t know, I can then go to the VLN and say, “Hey I need some help in this area. Are you able to help my child or help me? Give me the knowledge that I can then put through to my children.”