Miranda Makin, Deputy Principal Albany Senior High School, describes how technologies have enabled students engaged in the Impact Project to take their learning beyond the school and engage with experts to find information and share their learning. She explains, "The purpose of e-learning for us was not to adopt tools per se but to look at the opportunities that these tools afforded to collaborate online and to get feedback."
The aim and purpose of the impact projects is really for students to explore their passions, to take their learning to the world and really not be limited by the assumptions of a teacher.
Technologies have enabled this to happen. They have enabled us to take our learning beyond the scope of the school, to link with experts, to find out information. When we were looking at the purpose of e-learning, the purpose for us was not to adopt tools per se but we’re looking at the opportunities that these tools afford us to collaborate online and to get feedback online and with each other. There are several layers to this. For example one of the layers is that a lot of our students that are keen gamers, programmers, and want to develop games, that type of thing they have the chance to do that. At the moment we don’t offer those opportunities within our specialist subject areas in our curriculum. So we have an expert coming in who can actually support our students to develop those expertise. We have had a group of students developing open source solutions for our school and the teachers - for example digital signage.
The student is not limited by the way the teacher thinks we have to go about things. For example we have a young lady who actually has done the whole history - a graphic novel history of New Zealand. She wanted to have her work published and she’s done it all digitally as well but she didn’t know (and the teachers didn’t know perhaps) who she could use. So she sourced somebody online and has actually had her book published in Korea and it just makes the whole, the world, a little bit closer. It stops those barriers. The technology has stopped the barriers that perhaps existed before in us being able to and our students being able to get these things done. I mean finding out answers to problems that perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to solve otherwise. So it’s opened up the world to our students. So our students are actually going through and publishing their work and working in an environment - an online environment - that is not a student or a young adult environment. It’s an adult and international environment and they’re publishing their work online and they’re actually getting feedback from experts and other people about their efforts.
So technology has allowed us to change the way that we have traditionally thought. That old fashioned concept that you have to wait until you’ve left school before you can make a contribution to the world - you can actually be participating and making a contribution now. And that makes a huge difference for our students and their learning and the feedback that they’re receiving.