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Communication technologies

Learning from home

Advice and resources for parents and whānau, teachers, and leaders spanning early learning through to senior secondary to support learning at home.

Communication technologies

Communication technologies such as video conferencing, Skype, and Google Hangouts are increasingly able to facilitate relevant and authentic learning opportunities for students.

Learning is not constrained by physical spaces

Use communication technologies to:

  • provide learning that is not constrained by timetables, physical locations, and in-school teacher expertise
  • maintain and grow relationships when distance is a barrier, overcoming feelings of isolation
  • connect with experts outside the school walls
  • provide authentic learning contexts
  • learn collaboratively – share ideas, ask questions, and receive feedback
  • offer virtual courses.
A student in a Google Hangout

Consider how you can use communication technologies to facilitate teaching and learning, grow connections, and foster relationships if:

  • you are aiming to enhance and extend connections that happen at school
  • students are unable to physically attend classes due to sickness or other circumstances
  • your school is closed for face-to-face tuition.

Synchronous and asynchronous communication technologies

Communications technologies are designed to be either synchronous or asynchronous.

Synchronous communication

Asynchronous communication

Teachers and students interact online together at the same time.

Communication is in real time.

Teachers and students interact, create, or experience online material but not necessarily at the same time.

Communication is not live.

Features 

Communication must be scheduled at a particular time and is best done in shorter bursts.

Online participants can be put into groups, ask questions, share ideas, present work, and provide feedback. 

Can be more effective for:

  • teaching new concepts
  • providing checkpoints for students’ understanding
  • questions and answer sessions
  • brainstorming / planning
  • working together creatively
  • decision making.

Participants can read each others’ body language reducing misunderstandings.

Real-time contact with other people helps students feeling isolated.

Requires a robust internet connection and capable device.

Features

Accessible anytime making it more flexible and longer lasting.

Students can learn at their own pace, replaying or reviewing material several times if they need to.

Requires less immediate management; more attention can be paid to providing specific content.

Students have time to:

  • consider or prepare their responses
  • go deeper or wider into what they are learning.

Can be more effective for disseminating information or teaching discrete procedures and concepts.

Can typically be done using minimal internet connectivity and device specification.

Flipped learning  uses asynchronous communication technologies very effectively.

Examples
  • Video and audio conferencing platforms such as:
    • Google Hangouts
    • Microsoft Teams and Skype
    • Zoom
  • Text chat platforms
  • Online collaboration tools for example, Padlet, shared whiteboards such as Jamboard, typing together on a shared document.

Live streaming is a predominantly one-way synchronous communication technology which usually includes some interactivity through a chat forum.

Examples 
  • Email
  • Discussion forums
  • Social media posts
  • Flipped learning experiences
  • Learning management systems
  • Google Classroom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard
  • Seesaw
  • ClassDojo
  • Flipgrid

A recording of a synchronous communication, such as a webinar or online lesson becomes an asynchronous communication.

When to use synchronous or asynchronous communication technologies

A combination of both methods is most effective

Each method of communicating has advantages and disadvantages. Choose which one to use, and when, depending on factors such as:

  • what technology is available to both teachers and students
  • what type of teaching or learning or activity is being done
  • learners' ages, stages, and digital fluency
  • when the communication is taking place.

A combination of both methods forms an effective overall online learning experience for a student.

Choosing a conferencing platform to create your online classroom

In a virtual classroom learning is accessed through a mix of web applications including:

  • video conferencing for regular real time (synchronous) sessions
  • a shared online resource space for accessing course material and independent study.

When choosing a platform, consider:

  • what online communication tools you already have available to use or are familiar with?
  • how easy is it to set up user accounts?
  • how many students can participate in the online classroom?
  • what features does the platform offer?
  • what hardware and software or apps does the platform run on?

Commonly used platforms

Google hangouts meet logo

Google Hangouts Meet

Part of Google’s G Suite products. Schools that have Google G Suite in place automatically have access to Google Hangouts Meet as long as it has been enabled by an administrator. Meet runs in a browser or using a mobile app. To get started visit Welcome to your first day of Google Hangouts Meet .

Microsoft Teams logo

Microsoft Teams

Part of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of products, provided at no cost to schools as part of the Ministry’s Microsoft Agreement. Schools that have Office 365 in place automatically have access to Teams as long as it has been enabled by an administrator. Teams runs in a browser, using software or using a mobile app. To get started visit Get started with Microsoft Teams for remote learning .

Zoom logo

Zoom

A feature-rich video conferencing solution. Using Zoom requires teachers and students to set up a new account. Zoom offers a full-featured Basic Plan for free with unlimited meetings. Zoom runs in a browser, using software or using a mobile app. To get started visit the Zoom getting started help centre page .

Zoom have expanded access for schools in New Zealand

Zoom has lifted the 40-minute meeting limit on free Basic accounts for K-12 schools. Request to have the limit lifted for your school » .

Security resource for educators teaching over Zoom

Google support

Teach from home  – A temporary hub of information and tools to help teachers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Google Hangouts  – support for schools provided via hangouts for three weeks beginning 26 March 2020.

Google is rolling out access to Google Hangout Meet to all schools. Google Meet is an easy-to-join video call system that can be used for live streaming and recording of meetings.

Microsoft support

Microsoft Teams provides an online learning environment, including online meetings that are able to be recorded.

Making the transition to remote learning  – information from Microsoft to support schools.

Video conferencing options and guidance for early learning services, schools and kura

Ministry of Education provide information and things to consider for schools choosing a video conferencing tool.

Practical tips for teachers using video conferencing platforms for online classrooms

If you are beginning in an online environment, familiarise yourself with your online tool, and start with short manageable sessions as you develop expertise.

Using video conferencing to expand learning options

Safety advice when using video conferencing platforms

  • Keep your meeting URL secure
. Send the link for your video conference by email or share it on your class page but don’t use Twitter or a publicly accessible website to publish it otherwise anyone could try to attend.
  • Consider privacy if you record your meeting
. Some parents, students, or other participants may not want you to put a recorded webinar or virtual classroom session online. Ensure that any recordings are kept private to only participants or that you have their permission to publish. 
  • Get familiar with the settings
. Each platform will vary. Look for these common settings to help manage participants:
    • Lock meeting – prevents new people from entering 

    • Disable screen sharing – stops participants from hijacking the meeting

    • Remove from meeting – immediately removes a participant
  • Set expectations around muting
. Participants may have a variety of things going on around them in the background. Set clear expectations for when it’s a good idea to mute audio and video, and when it’s OK to have them running. Find out how to mute yourself and others as the meeting host.

Getting started

  • Start with a trial of only a few students or colleagues and schedule your online class for a short length of time such as 15 minutes.
  • Choose to use the platform and tools that you and your learners are already using and familiar with.
  • Check that students know how to use the platform.
  • Schedule classes well in advance using the URL created when setting up the video conference session.

Forming relationships is typically best done synchronously. Then, asynchronous communication helps to sustain those relationships.

e-Learning teacher, Nicky Lewis explains the importance of building relationships with the students she works with virtually and how she does this.

During the online class

  • Start and finish on time.
  • Be clear about the purpose and learning outcomes for each lesson and create structure to your lessons in the same way as you would face-to-face.
  • Have participants mute their microphones when they are not talking.
  • Provide some time for students to chat together and have one of your students monitor the chat.
  • Your audio is the most important thing to get right; use headphones with a built-in microphone if your device audio is poor or if you are in a noisy place.
  • For your video, have your face lit up from in front and avoid having a light window in the background. Consider what people can see as your background.
  • Try to look at your webcam when you are talking rather than the screen so that you connect more effectively with participants
  • Try to relax and have fun – connecting online with students can be equally as rewarding as when you are face-to-face.

Going further – planning for effective learning

Take an inclusive approach as you design your learning spaces.

  • Use visual aids when you are talking – low tech such as paper and pens, books are often more effective than high tech
  • Slowly get to know the in-built functions such as screen-sharing, breakout rooms, polling/voting/quiz tools, hand-raising, annotation tools, and so on.
  • Use other synchronous online tools such as collaborative docs, whiteboards, quizzes, brainstorming sites, and so on, to make your lesson more interactive and varied. Limit the online resources that students are sent to, so as to not overwhelm.
  • Save questions up to the end of the session – use your chat monitor to help.
  • Use the different views to your advantage – usually the gallery views are best as you can see everyone’s faces.
  • Turn your video on – seeing each other builds connections, helps participants to read body language, and makes for clearer communication.
  • Encourage two-way communication. Ask students to come prepared to share something with the rest of the class so that communication is not only from you, the teacher.

After the online class

  • Consider how students will contact you, or each other, for help when it is needed.
  • Schedule small group meetings with students, if possible, to check in with them.

Useful resources

eTeaching 101 – be ready to teach online

NZ eteachers participated in an online workshop designed to support them with the basics of preparing to teach online. They explored pedagogies of online teaching and learning, strategies for student engagement, areas for skills development, and ongoing support and professional learning.

Online learning guidelines for school leaders  

In this article, published 22 March 2020, ePrincipal Rachel Whalley outlines key considerations for principals planning a successful online environment. The article includes examples of planning from primary and secondary schools.

Keep them 'connected': Advice for taking learning online

Some key points to consider when planning to take your face-to-face class or school fully online. In this article published 22 March 2020, Darren Sudlow from NetNZ shares his expertise.

Get into Zoom

Netsafe have published an overview of what you need to know about using Zoom. Their article includes a few things you can do to make your Zoom group a bit safer.

Flipped learning

Practical examples from NZ teachers and tools to help you get started planning your flipped classroom or delivering learning remotely.

Virtual learning courses

By offering virtual courses schools provide a very diverse curriculum to meet the needs of their learners. Large and small schools gain from offering virtual courses.

Online learning organisations

VLN Primary School

The VLN Primary School is a Charitable Trust dedicated to creating exciting learning opportunities for children across New Zealand, using online learning technologies. 

NetNZ

A large community of secondary and area schools who work together to provide online programmes of learning based on the New Zealand Curriculum. 

The VLN Community - Home of the Learning Communities Online (LCO)

The Virtual Learning Network Community (VLNC) is a group of school clusters and organisations who choose to operate as a collaborative network, utilising digital technologies in order to enhance the learning outcomes and opportunities for learners (students, teachers, school communities and educators). If you want to be a part of this growing online community contact one of the e-Principals of the Learning Communities Online (LCO). 

NEX – Kōtuitui Online Teachers Network

NetNZ and the VLN Primary School, supported by the Ministry of Education, are collaborating to develop a new Network of Expertise (NEX) for online teaching and learning. NEX is aimed at teachers who are teaching online in New Zealand schools, teachers who want to teach and collaborate online, and teachers who support online learners.

Lalaosalafai Tu’ua describes his experience of using video conferencing to teach Samoan at NCEA Level 3 at Southern Cross Campus in Mangere.

NetNZ

Ashburton College (with more than 700 senior students) and Roxburgh Area School (with only 30 senior students), offer NCEA courses run by NetNZ .

Classes take place on Google Hangouts video conferencing and typically learners from several different schools are in the same class. Each course is run by an e-Teacher and students are expected to self manage their learning. They are supported in their own school by local staff in a learning commons style space.

Ashburton College e-Dean, Anne Williams explains how online learning provides students with timetable flexibility and personalisation of learning. She explains their system of support for students to enable successful learning outcomes. 

Ashburton College students, Vlad and Olivia describe the benefits of timetable flexibility, easy access to course content, and the independent learning skills they have developed through participating in NetNZ courses. 

Ashburton College e-Dean, Anne Williams explains students are developing many skills through being an online learner. Students say they are becoming more organised, feel motivated, have learnt to use a range of digital tools, and feel like they're in charge of their own learning. 

More information »

Browse through the learning snapshots and videos below. 

Skype

Students from Melville Intermediate helped students from neighbouring Broadlands Primary School prepare and learn a short mihi using Skype.

Tags: English, Learning languages, Collaborative tools, Communication, Primary, Upper primary

Raising literacy levels

Fendalton Open Air School teachers collected and analysed a range of data to enhance their writing programme and engage learners. 

Tags: English, Teacher inquiry, Collaborative tools, Communication, Multimedia – video, Presentation, Primary

Developing learner empathy

Year one students at Lyttleton School share their learning through digital stories, which provide students, teachers, parents, and whānau with a common language to discuss relating to others and managing self.   

Tags: Teacher inquiry, Communication, Lower primary, Primary

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Use the filters to find videos that relate to your specific area of interest.

Using technologies to connect with the community

Using technologies to connect with the community

Principal Jane Danielson explains the different applications they are using to connect with their community. 

Engaging your school community using technologies

Engaging your school community using technologies

Rob Clarke, principal of Burnham School, explains the importance of face-to-face meetings in terms of successful whānau and community engagement with e-learning tools.

Using Ustream to share assemblies

Using Ustream to share assemblies

James Rea, DP at Russell Street School, shares how they are using Ustream to live stream their school assemblies.

Using blogs to communicate with the school community

Using blogs to communicate with the school community

James Rea, DP at Russell Street School, shares how students are using their library blog to post book reviews and character profiles.

Using video conferencing to expand learning options

Using video conferencing to expand learning options

Southern Cross Campus student Shona Unasa takes economics via video conference.

Teaching Samoan via video conference

Teaching Samoan via video conference

Lalaosalafai Tu’ua describes his experience of using video conferencing to teach Samoan at NCEA Level 3 at Southern Cross Campus in Mangere.

Sharing book reviews with QR codes

Sharing book reviews with QR codes

Hillcrest Normal School librarian, Kim Bizo demonstrates and describes the process for making QR codes of book reviews with gifted and talented students. 

Engaging parents in learning through technology

Engaging parents in learning through technology

Hillcrest Normal School teacher, Michelle Macintyre shares how technology has enabled parents to be involved in different ways with students' learning.

Using mobile devices to improve communication

Using mobile devices to improve communication

Parents from Holy Cross School explain how they are able to connect easily with the school, using mobile devices and different forms of digital media.

Bringing the classroom to the community

Bringing the classroom to the community

Staff at Mahurangi Christian School discuss how the school connects the classroom to the community through digital technologies.

A student’s perspective of inclusive education

Inclusion

Waerenga o Kuri student, Herepo Wynyard talks about how the involvement of her whānau both online (through her e-portfolio), and face-to-face at school has encouraged success with her learning goals.

Building connections with parents and whānau

Building connections with parents and whānau

Wairakei School principal Shane Buckner explains the benefits of using digital technologies to build connections with parents and whānau.

Students communicating beyond the classroom using digital technologies

Students communicating beyond the classroom using digital technologies

Teacher, Mike Crawford and his students from Woodend School describe why they are using Twitter to raise public awareness of local environmental issues.

Connecting with the community through social media

Connecting with the community through social media

Rosin Lamb, Communications Manager at Pakuranga College, explains how they use social media to connect with the community.

Sharing student learning

Sharing student learning

Staff and students from Apiti School discuss the benefits of using e-portfolios to share student learning with parents and the community. 

Connecting learning and the community

Connecting learning and the community

Teacher, Nicki Fielder and students from Apiti School explain the different social media tools they use to connect with parents and the wider community.

Learning online – Teacher perspective

Learning online – Teacher perspective

e-Learning teacher at Ashburton College, Nicky Lewis, discusses online learning. She outlines the various tools they use online, in particular, Moodle. Nicky says, “accessibility is important”.

Learning online with NetNZ

Learning online with NetNZ

Anne Williams explains her role as e-Dean at Ashburton College. She explains how they utilise the online courses offered through NetNZ to support timetable flexibility and personalisation of learning for students.

Flexible learning using Google sites

Flexible learning using Google sites

Tamaki College maths teacher, Noelene Dunn has set up a Google site for her students to support a flexible and inclusive approach to learning. She and her students explain how they use it. 

Student on Chromebook

Rewindable learning

Teachers, students, and parents from Bay of Islands College talk about rewindable learning and the benefits that it has for them.

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Resources

Key resources

Support for teaching and learning when schools are closed

A padlet with links to G Suite resources, Microsoft resources, Adobe information, other EdTech, advice for teaching online, resources, tips for remote working, and support for whānau.

Learning from home

A site developed for NZ schools providing advice and resources for parents and whānau, teachers, and leaders spanning early learning through to senior secondary to support learning at home.

Flipped learning

Make lessons available for students to access from home or school. This page helps you to flip your classroom and personalise learning.

eTeaching 101 – be ready to teach online

NZ eteachers participated in an online workshop designed to support them with the basics of preparing to teach online. They explored pedagogies of online teaching and learning, strategies for student engagement, areas for skills development, and ongoing support and professional learning.

Online learning guidelines for school leaders  

In this article, published 22 March 2020, ePrincipal Rachel Whalley outlines key considerations for principals planning a successful online environment. The article includes examples of planning from primary and secondary schools.

Keep them 'connected': Advice for taking learning online

Some key points to consider when planning to take your face-to-face class or school fully online. In this article published 22 March 2020, Darren Sudlow from NetNZ shares his expertise.

e-Learning in a crisis

In this blog post, Stephen McConnanchie shares what they learned at his secondary school following the Christchurch earthquake when their school was closed for seven weeks.

Google support

Teach from home  – A temporary hub of information and tools to help teachers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Google is rolling out access to Google Hangout Meet to all schools. Google Meet is an easy-to-join video call system that can be used for live streaming and recording of meetings.

Microsoft support

Microsoft Teams provides an online learning environment that includes online meetings that are able to be recorded.

Making the transition to remote learning  – information from Microsoft to support schools.

Adobe

Enabling student access to Creative Cloud during Covid-19 campus closures

Adobe is making temporary at-home access to Creative Cloud available until May 31, 2020, for schools and colleges who currently have only lab access for students, at no additional cost.

The temporary licenses may be provided and removed at Adobe’s sole discretion.

To be eligible for this access, your school or college must be a current customer.

Learning beyond the classroom

Enabling e-Learning page outlining how the use of digital technologies enables students to personalise their learning and extend that learning beyond the classroom.

Digital tools for connected schools  

CORE Education blog post by Tessa Gray outlining how digital tools can help schools work together as networked organisations, online and off. When used appropriately, they can also help to develop collaborative relationships and facilitate powerful learning opportunities. See the associated VLN discussion forum .

Webinar: Online learning benefits for students  

This webinar explores the benefits and practicalities of online learning. Anne Williams (eDean), Nicky Lewis (e-Learning teacher) Ashburton College, and Darren Sudlow (eDirector NetNZ) discuss the potential for students: to make powerful learning connections, be motivated, to learn in different ways, and develop personal management skills. Students have freedom to work and learn flexibly together connecting with others in the online community. Anne and Nicky share stories of deeper, richer learning.

Research

Virtual learning in New Zealand – a research base

A collation of research and reports from NEX– Kōtuitui Online Teachers Network. Reports focus on the policy and practice of online, flexible, and distance learning in New Zealand schools.

Video conferencing in distance learning: A New Zealand schools' perspective

This article traces the development of video conferencing in distance learning in the New Zealand secondary school sector. It begins with an overview of the definition and development of distance learning, then traces the technology of video conferencing from its inception to the present day. It goes on to look at the growth of video conferencing, the role and contribution it has made to distance learning in New Zealand schools, then concludes with a brief discussion of possible future directions.

Video conferencing: Extending the learning opportunities for our students

This article explains what video conferencing is and outlines the four Ps of effective video conferencing in schools:

  • programmes – providing more access to subject choices across the curriculum
  • projects – extending the reach of the classroom by enabling students to engage in virtual field trips, access experts, and collaborate
  • professional learning
  • participation.

Support during Covid-19

Covid19

Microsoft & Google are providing online support for schools establishing or offering distance learning for their students. 

Microsoft 

Google

Distance learning Google Hangouts

See also:


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