Professional learning and development with the Connected Learning Advisory

Issue: Volume 95, Number 14

Posted: 8 August 2016
Reference #: 1H9d3P

The Connected Learning Advisory — Te Ara Whītiki aims to support schools to integrate digital technologies into learning. While this support is primarily provided from a distance, the advisory also offers this support through a limited number of free, face-to-face, regional professional learning days in which school and e-learning leaders can come together to seek advice and build their networks.

Regional days: supporting leaders

In 2015, the Connected Learning Advisory (CLA) facilitated professional learning days for school leaders in Whangarei, Hamilton and Christchurch.

Following on from the success of these days, a programme was developed for 2016 focusing on locations away from the main centres. Term 1 saw professional learning days in Oamaru and Gore, and in term 2 the days were in Gisborne and Napier. Term 3’s professional learning days are to be held in Whanganui and Taranaki.

The days are structured to allow participants to engage in a keynote presentation and two workshops in the morning and, if they choose to stay on after lunch, there are small group mentoring sessions with facilitators on offer.

As the CLA has advisors across the country they can draw on both local knowledge of the schools and relationships with them to make decisions around what workshops to offer.

Consultation with leaders in schools, alongside looking at the queries that the CLA has consistently received from these regions, gives a very clear picture of interest and need.

In Gore and Oamaru, CLA project lead Ray Burkhill set the scene with his keynote address looking at the seven principles of learning ( and the role of digital technologies to support them.

The region indicated a desire for practical sessions on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) readiness and some firm evidence that supported the use of digital technologies in the classroom.

Engagement in and responses to the sessions on planning for BYOD and the why and how of using digital technology in the classroom indicate how well received these workshops were.

Participants appreciated that sessions were grounded in solid research, practical solutions and personal experience in the classroom.

“I really enjoyed the social aspect of talking to other teachers. I felt motivated to do more with our ICT as thinking about the ‘why’ question made me feel more confident about what I am doing and pointed me in the right direction about where to go to next.”

“Very well qualified facilitators able to talk in non-technical terms. It gave us the information and then a practical application. I followed it easily. Not all technical but using language I could understand and then do something with after.”

Participants in Napier and Gisborne were looking for ways to support their teachers to shift their thinking and reimagine professional learning in school.

Anne Robertson’s keynote positioned the day with a look at the fluencies that underpin what it is to be a learner and an effective citizen in the 21st century. The importance of connecting with the local community is undeniable but the challenge can be how to do that effectively and in a culturally responsive way.

Teachers in the ‘Building digital connections with your community’ workshop came away with a rationale for using digital media to connect with their communities, as well as ways to support the whole community to explore the role of digital technologies in their daily lives.

Participants commented during the day on how valuable the opportunities were to share ideas and have their thinking challenged.

“It brought other areas to the fore which I had not previously considered and having the opportunity to attend two of three micro workshops was very useful.”

“Enjoyed the learning and the connections not only with the presenters but the attendees too.”

Common across all the PLD days has been the highly-valued ‘Strategic planning’ workshop. In this workshop, the participants explored the Strategic Thinking Roadmap(external link) for integrating digital technology. The roadmap offers a pragmatic pathway for planning and stimulates thought and discussion.

A powerful addition to this year’s programme has been the personalised PD the CLA offers the school who hosts the day. The local CLA advisor liaises closely with the school principal or e-learning leader to put together a workshop that the school will find beneficial and is tailored to their specific needs.

The EduIgnite-style sessions (a series of quick-fire presentations) in Napier and Gisborne proved a great success and contributions from teachers at the host schools allowed a two way exchange of ideas and learning. Teachers in both regions enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the CLA facilitators in small groups or one-to-one to share and learn.

“All presentations from the team during the day were of top quality. We (including other schools) went away feeling that we could comfortably contact CLA with any queries that we may have in the future.”

The next professional learning days will take place in Whanganui and Taranaki during term 3:

  • Whanganui: Tuesday 23 August at Keith Street School, Whanganui.
  • Taranaki: Thursday 25 August at Puketapu School, New Plymouth.

You can register for the professional learning days by following the link from the Connected Learning Advisory website(external link) 

Contact the Connected Learning Advisory

The advisory is supporting hundreds of schools, and now also Communities of Learning, as they make strategic decisions related to learning with digital technologies.

If you have a query about integrating technology with teaching and learning, or you want to suggest a topic for this column, contact the Connected Learning Advisory at TKI website(external link) or on the CLA website(external link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 8:11 PM, 8 August 2016

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