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CoOLs - Communities of Online Learning - A double edged sword?

Crossposted from BardWired

Tomorrow the report from the Education and Science Select Committee, who are looking at Education (Update) Amendment Bill, is due. There are a raft of changes proposed in this bill, though the part that is most of interest to me is Part 3A - Communities of Online Learning.

With my work at the VLN Primary School, I have been asking for something like CoOLs for a very long time. Here are our VLN Primary Submissions over recent years, they all ask for better resourcing, support and for inclusion of online learning within the mainstream schooling sector:

Why the outrage from parts of the sector that say they have been blind sided by part 3A of the Education Amendment Act bill? That it came out of nowhere, and there has been a clear lack of consultation? Well no, for some that were 'gobsmacked' to hear about it, they just didn't have this on their radar because they aren't taking notice of what is already happening in our schools. It isn't through lack of engagement on my part, I have been trying to get these ideas through to the wider sector for many years, as have some of my colleagues & been frustrated by the sectors lack of interest and support.

I have to support the notion of CoOLs this is what I have been working for most of my professional life towards. So why would I be concerned that CoOLs is going to come back and bite us on the bum!

Because it's not just about the VLN and its not just about CoOLs alone, its about being part of a whole system change, with some contentious neoliberal agendas in the mix.

The VLN Primary School has always been about providing equity and access to our learners where ever they are through online learning; the flip-side some see commercial providers using online learning as a tool to provide cheap online education to the masses.

The VLN Primary School has always been about collaboration across schools and building collective capacity, networks and relationships where all are contributing to the education and well being of our learners; the flip-side the imposition of networks across schools with a focus on standards based learning and accountability of achievement, this may change the unique character or rural education in NZ.

If you want to know more about what has been happening with Virtual Learning in New Zealand, and have some myths about online learning busted, then watch my EdTalks video, screened at ULearn16.

CENZ presents Rachel Whalley from EDtalks on Vimeo.

If you want to read some of the submissions about CoOLs made to the Science & Select Committee you can see them all in their entirety, or you can read notes from some key submissions that I have collated here. This will give you an idea of many of the concerns that are being put forward about CoOLs, some of which I agree with.

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Comment by Paul Keown on March 13, 2017 at 21:11

Excellent post Rachel. I agree people should not be surprised. On the other hand many have probably dismissed the whole idea thinking "it won't happen on my watch so I won't worry about it." I haven't looked at all the material on this yet - but will do so. I'll come back into this discussion later when I have had a chance to think about more. . 

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