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.
In the life of an eDean Term One is always crazy: There are enrolments to do- each one taking at least an hour of my time when you include talking to the students, consulting the deans, processing the enrolment and then setting up the student with their individual course needs. This year I did 45 enrolments and I've already had to change three of these.There are spreadsheets and rolls to organise and teachers to consult.All the students need help with their first couple of hangout lessonsA lot of time is spent getting to know the students and helping them get started in their courses. This is so important, they are more likely to ask for help if they know you and realise you are expecting their questions. There are many differing request from eTeachers to follow up on- including ordering text books and supervising internalsThere are course mark books to set up and standards to checkThere are reports to write and process
But by the end of this term …
Is often the time that the cracks start to show. Internal assessments are on the go and some students can get stuck for a whole variety of reasons.
So this week I've contacted several eTeachers about students I've been feeling a little worried about.
As a result I've:
found out that one of my girls is too shy to speak on the hangout- she feels she's "dumb" compared to the other students and even worse she is too embarrassed to put her work on the community or even share it with the teacher. I showed her how to share a document with only her teacher and assured her it was fine to share work before it became a final product. I contacted her teacher- who was also concerned- and he is going to have a chat to her individually to see what help she needs. I've asked her to give me feedback regularly over the next few weeks and to let me know if she needs to have help from one of our school teachers. I'm so pleased I checked on this before she g…
Following up on students who hadn't answered my three questions and fixing some issues for students who pointed them out- mostly things like formatting documents, bell times, time managementPromoting the NetNZ surveySorting out issues with the VC software on the PCOrganising an assessment for L3 EcoOrganising for a student to stay in her course even though she is going to JapanMeeting with the principal to update him on our Online students and the progress of our Deeper Support group- he is interested in looking at the resource from Guy Claxton we are usingSpending time with several students who are worrying me- they showed me their course work, explained what they are having trouble with and we talked about some optionsTalked to an in school teacher about the stress levels of an online student who has to miss one class a weekSorting out the Online mark books with the person in our school who organises themFinishing the MOUs and scanning them offWith…