Learning with Digital Technologies Professional Learning and Development
Over 5,000 leaders and teachers from 321 schools/kura have participated in LwDT professional learning and development (PLD) in 2015. This includes 28 Māori-medium settings and 65 schools and kura in Christchurch participating in Learning Community Clusters (LCC) PLD. The high level purpose of this improvement initiative is to grow e- capability across schools, to achieve better outcomes for all learners.
As a PLD provision, LwDT has a clear focus on empowering learners at each level - facilitators, leaders, teachers and students. A collaborative team-partnership approach (across and within regional LwDT teams), has built understanding of generative leadership and provided a model for building capacity and change management. An emphasis on high level communication, with a strong focus on language that facilitates learning has helped grow e-capability across New Zealand schools.
The e-Learning Planning Framework (eLPF) and the Māori Medium e-Learning Planning Framework (MMeLPF, Te Rangitukutuku) have provided frameworks to support schools with self-review, evaluation and goal setting in relation to their e-learning capability building.
Collaboration, distributed leadership, increased ownership and responsibility for learning. Leaders, teachers and students have been positively influenced by the support in the use of digital technologies.
Who was better off?
As a result of the PLD, the percentage of schools judged to be effective or highly effective in learning with digital technologies increased from 21% to 59% of the total. Factors mediating the impact of LwDT PLD for leaders included:
- leadership disposition, involvement and engagement in PLD, and subsequent understanding and implementation of strategies where digital technologies improve and enhance learning and teaching
- distributed and generative leadership focused on fostering a culture of collaborative learning
- a shifted focus from ‘infrastructure’ to pedagogy and learning.
Of the 219 schools reported on, data shifts between Time 1 (beginning of 2015) and Time 2 (end of 2015) indicated 69% of leaders showed shifts in their practice and strategic direction, as referenced in the leadership dimension of the e-Learning Planning Framework (eLPF). 19% of schools (43) now view themselves at the extending or empowering phases of the eLPF.
As a result of the PLD, the percentage of schools judged to have effective or highly effective teachers has increased from 19% to 58%. Factors contributing to this shift for teachers have included:
- teachers’ and leaders’ understanding of teaching as inquiry linked to self-review and performance appraisal processes
- networking within and across schools in collaborative hubs for learning
- growing awareness of future-focused themes for learning.
Data shifts between Time 1 (beginning of 2014) and Time 2 (beginning of 2015) indicated 77% of teachers showed some shift for learning and teaching outcomes. 17% of schools (37) now identify at the extending or empowering phases of the e-Learning Planning Framework.
As a result of the PLD, the percentage of schools judged to be effective or highly effective in enhancing students learning through LwDT increased from 12% to 50% of the total. Factors contributing to this shift include:
- a direct focus on priority learners, using a process of teaching as inquiry
- students taking greater ownership of their learning – student agency
- the use of digital technologies, within interactive learning contexts, to empower students previously underperforming - to improve their learning outcomes
- increasing emphasis on whole school development and systems, and generalising ‘pockets of innovation’ more widely.
Data shifts between Time 1 (beginning of 2014) and Time 2 (beginning of 2015) indicated 67% shift for student access to technologies and infrastructure. 26% of schools (57) now identify at the Extending or Empowering phases of the e-Learning Planning Framework.
There is clear evidence that the following make a difference to PLD outcomes for schools, when measured against the PLD goals and e-Learning Planning Framework:
- strong leadership that supports whole-school engagement, improved teacher practice and opportunities for success for all students
- established culture for learning
- sufficient time for shared understanding and collective ownership of the self-review and school/kura development processes
- alignment of schools’ vision for learning with support from digital technologies
- deeper understandings of teaching as inquiry
- collaborative work across groups of schools.
When some or all of these elements are not evident, significant shifts in PLD can take longer to be realised. These findings align with other evidence about the effectiveness of PLD, especially those findings linked to school leadership.
Working with clusters of schools in the South
The LwDT South team have been working with clusters over the last 3 years. The Learning Community Clusters (LCC) were formed in Christchurch post earthquake, by the Ministry of Education based on geographical location.
Our team of facilitators worked alongside cluster leaders to:
Many clusters developed innovative and creative ways to bring their collective schools together and align their strategic thinking and vision for their wider community - all with an e-learning lens. Find out more here >>>.
Hereora cluster - highly collaborative cluster
Connected learning improves student outcomes
The appropriate use of digital technologies in schools provides an opportunity to significantly transform learning and teaching in the 21st century. As our understanding around what successful learning looks like and the definition of student outcomes broadens to include non-academic dispositions, there is increasing evidence of the positive impact that digital technologies has on student motivation, engagement and well-being. Find out more here >>>
Where to from here?
The LwDT team-partnership model has been a very effective leadership initiative, integral to modelling and fostering collaborative work across groups of schools. In the future, there will be a strong emphasis on genuine collaboration and sharing within purposeful learning communities.
Supporting school leadership with visioning, long-term planning and strategic thinking (through a process of on-going reflection) helps to sustain e-capability within and across schools. Encouraging teacher engagement, ownership and teacher capability (Spirals of Inquiry) has helped increase quantity and quality of e-learning opportunities for students. Recognising collaboration and collective learning matters is influential to these outcomes.
There is a strong understanding that language matters and is powerful in learning. Using Learning Talk Series by Joan Dalton has been influential when working with teachers and leaders. Future- focused themes from, Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching - a New Zealand perspective (NZCER) have also helped to influence how teachers and leaders think about their work and the changing role of schooling. These themes in-turn drive understandings around collaboration and community.
Image attributed to: Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser (2013)