e-learning has potential to support community engagement and student voice. The concept of tuakana-teina (where older is helping younger) is the foundation for students supporting each other's learning using technologies. Principal Rob Clarke explains how Google Apps are used with different groups across the school including the Board of Trustees, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), teachers, and students.
The two areas of the NZC that I think that e-learning has great potential to support are community engagement where we can, over time, build up the possibilities for feedback and the possibilities for celebration and sharing of learning, but also the notion of student voice and student voice can be well supported with e-learning because it gives children more control over how they are learning and what they are learning so the onus becomes more on the individual child (or the group of children) as to how they direct that pathway and less on the teacher. The teacher can then hopefully, naturally, become more of a facilitator of learning rather than the director of learning as it were.
In terms of student voice, one of the areas that ERO noticed in our school, which I was really pleased to see, was that children are able to articulate and explain what they are learning, why they are learning it, and what their next steps are. I see that as a direct result of the great teaching that they receive by our wonderful staff but also e-learning has certainly been an enabler for that particularly in the senior school.
One of the things that we believe is really important and strong already in our school is the concept of tuakana-teina (where older is helping younger) and so one of the things that Burnham children do naturally, really well, is we have older students looking after and playing with (or supporting the learning of) younger students and that’s something we want to grow. I would like to see that when we do have more mobile and portable devices in the school that, that will support the concept and the growth of tuakana-teina where older children are able to mentor and teach and support younger children. One opportunity for that would be in our Year 4-5 area where children are transitioning from the junior area of the school to the senior area of the school. When they enter the senior area of the school they get a Burnham Ako account and so perhaps we could actually use older children to help set them up and mentor them in how to use the system, rather than the teachers having to do it necessarily and teachers can just facilitate that.
Google Apps is a really useful system and we’re now starting to use it with different groups within the school and different teams within our whole organisation. So two examples of that are our Board of Trustees - they have their own private site which is just designed for them and that’s a place to keep all of the stuff and many of the discussions that they have whether they’re in the country or not because some of the trustees are not always here. Another team within our school is our Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and they are starting to use the Google systems for various things like when parents enrol and need uniform they send an email to the PTA and that is collated and helps with the process of making sure that we’ve got adequate stock for uniforms.