The purpose of this blog is to share the role of the eDean and give an idea of the sorts of things that this vital role involves.
I am part of a ministry funded group looking at deeper support for students learning online. As part of this we are investigating the ways that eDeans can make a difference to the success of our NetNZ eStudents.
eDeans make a difference to learning outcomes
This post is an article that I wrote for NetNZ about the research we are presently involved in:
NetNZ online students are fortunate to have an eDean in their schools to support them with their learning. In the world of Online Learning, evidence shows that students will achieve if they are supported by their eTeachers and by another teacher, the eDean, in their home schools. The triangle created by effective communication between the eStudent, the eTeacher and the eDean can make all the difference to the learning and achievement of the student.
The role of the eDean is a diverse one but essentially it relies on the eDean getting to know the students well, understanding their needs as learners, gaining their trust and setting up support systems as and when they are needed. This vital support role requires flexibility, initiative, great communication skills and lots of common sense, as well as a broad knowledge of the New Zealand curriculum and an understanding of how students learn. Most schools understand the need for this position but in some schools it is under resourced and this is reflected in both the retention rates, and achievement, of students.
As part of a Ministry of Education Grassroots initiative a group of NetNZ eDeans are currently carrying out an inquiry to find out the best ways to support online students with their learning. In order to gather data and identify these students a survey has been created based on building the habit of perseverance from the work of Guy Claxton. Following this survey selected students will be used for case studies. As a group we have identified strategies to trial with our selected students and scaffolding for the learning conversations we will have with them. Later in the year we will meet to share our results and reflect on the process and the results.
In addition to this we are working alongside the NetNZ executive to consider systems that would allow more information sharing about our students with their eTeachers and eDeans so that individual learning needs can be catered for to a greater extent. The development of an online induction for our students is another result of this work. The challenge with this is to give information to students about being online learners but also to allow them to consider themselves as learners and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately NetNZ should consider an online student management system that would benefit all of the students and teachers and allow information to be securely shared.
By the end of this inquiry process we hope to have valuable data that can be shared with other eDeans and eTeachers and that will become part of the ongoing process of improving the outcomes for all online learners.
The Grass Roots Ideas Initiative aims to help schools around New Zealand better understand how digital technologies can enhance teaching and learning. It gathers real-world information from teachers who are innovating with technology in the classroom.
About the Grass Roots Ideas Initiative
Grass Roots Ideas aims to help schools around New Zealand to better understand how to use digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning.
We want to work with teachers and school leaders to identify, test, and share learning ideas which take advantage of the internet, digital devices, digital resources, and/or digital tools.
October/ November is prize giving time and time to reflect on my online students and their NCEA successes.
At my school any online student who has achieved all of their course is acknowledged at prize giving with an "Achievement in Online Learning" award. Those who achieve mostly at Excellence level receive an "Achievement with Excellence in Online Learning" award. For 2017 that was 25 students from a total of 39.
This year four of my students got top in their subject- both in their online class and at our school- very exciting when you consider that they do have to overcome the obstacles of working at a distance and my school has a role of 1200.
Some of my students missed one or two internals for a variety of reasons and there were two who haven't to date achieved anything- although they hold out hope for the externals. Despite my best efforts some students still fail to complete their courses, or they have personal issues that affect their learning, or they…
The year is drawing to a close. It was time to ask my students how things have gone.
I asked them, "Would you consider being an online student again?"and here's what they said:
Yes. I would probably take all of my classes online ideally, good to be able to work at home and when it suits.
I would probably consider being an online student only if I wasn't able to do a subject in class. I prefer to work in a classroom environment so that I can get help from my friends and teacher quickly if I need it.
Yes! It was an amazing experience.
I would because it is another way of learning that is different to sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher every period and it is more reliant on your own willingness to learn.
Yes definitely! I've gained so many skills taking ONL. From being tech savvy to making great connections with others around NZ. I was able to figure my way of learning thru ONL so this was very helpful in my other classes. The only reason I wouldn…
End of term two is a good time to check on what the students are thinking....... I asked my eStudents five questions:
1. Are you still enjoying your course? 2. Are you achieving as you would wish to be? 3. Do you need any support at the moment? (Explain) 4. How is Online Learning helping you as a learner? 5. Is there anything else you would like me to know?
I found this a useful exercise as an eDean. The students who responded quickly were the ones who are managing themselves well in an online environment. I followed up with others but overall my students were still very positive at this point in the year. They could appreciate that online learning was helping them to become more organised and more independent. Even students who are struggling a bit in terms of achievement are appreciating the agency they have over their own learning and that they are learning more than just the subject they are enrolled in. Below are a sample of their replies. Am I still enjoying my course? Yes, absolutely. …