Monday, May 12, 2014

Blended Learning and the effects on a Secondary Timetable

As part of my blended learning research this year, I am interested to know what kind of effect this type of learning has on the timetable and planning in a secondary school context.
I have interviewed Mr Harris, Deputy Principal at Tamaki College, in charge of timetabling. I sent him the questions a couple of weeks ago so he knew what I was going to ask him.

These are the questions that we covered ( along with a few extras along the way ).

  • What do you see as the main issues with the timetable as it stands at the moment?
  • How do these issues affect the planning  of a whole school timetable?
  • What is your understanding of blended learning?
  • Have you seen blended learning in action at any other school?
  • Were there any timetable considerations with what you have seen?
  • When the wireless in the community is up and running, and nearly all students will therefore have internet access at home,  do you see more of an opportunity for blended learning to have an impact on timetable planning?
  • What do you see as the main stumbling blocks / sticky areas with a blended learning model with regards to timetable planning?
  • There are definitions of types of blended learning here - Link
  • Do any of these models make timetable planning easier? ( bearing in mind, we still have to cater for trades, junior school and intermediates, who need a more traditional model ).
  • I see DVC as blended due the the different types of activities that we have to do, both online and on paper.
  • Do you see all subjects in the school like this or are some more able to be totally digital and others not?
  • How does this affect the planning of a timetable to cater for these differences?
  • This link here is to a totally online Level 1 course that I am trialling this year.
  • Link to Site
  • I am trialing it with a group of Year 10 students.
  • If there were more online course opportunities like this, how do you see this affecting the timetable?
  • What are the positive and negative affects that this could have?
  • Do you ever see a time when the students determine the timetable for themselves, going to see teachers when they need to for specific skills and content and for discussion time during a course where most of the “facts / content” is online?
  • Do you think that this approach is too “mature” for our younger students?
  • How do you see that a secondary timetable is going to have to evolve to keep up with the changes in how content is being taught?

What the main points were :-

  • What, where, when and who ?
  • What is going to be best for the students and the way that they learn?
  • How much change can happen while the end assessment is still as it stands with NCEA and we have to prepare students for that reality?
  • Being prepared for a future where we don't know what it will be like, as things are always changing. Wireless in the community will be a bog step in this change, as our expectations of the students ability to work outside of school hours will be different.
  • Being OPEN to change and being able to adapt and cater for what the students needs.
  • Teachers work at different rates, styles and times so we need to expect and cater for students in the same way.
  • Will students come in for those skill sessions that they need, and have a more flexible timetable at other times? What will that flexible arrangement look like?
  • Yes, he does see a time when students are dictating the timetable, but when that will be is unclear in the present state of things.
  • As more students come through from primary and intermediate having gone through this style of teaching, their ability to cope with a more open time table will improve, so the "maturity" factor will not be relevant any more.
  • Each subject has different requirements, and topics within a subject has too, so a one size fits everything will not be the way to go, but a flexible approach will be necessary.

Here is the recording of the interview ( please excuse the small chat at the start !! The main section starts about 50s in... )

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