DEANZ Award 2006
DEANZ Winner: Mrs Jo Gibson, Core Education Limited, LearnNow
LearnNow is a cross curriculum, online extension and enrichment programme for students in New Zealand and around the world.
The programme is designed to enable students to drive their own learning as they design, develop and run the projects they choose, within authentic project-based learning environments.
Students can collaborate online, forming online communities of learning, within inter-school communities or home school environments.
Students in the programme are involved in running small businesses and international volunteer service projects; linking internationally with peers worldwide and creating their own personal study environments.
The concepts and approach used in this programme were conceived of and trialled by Jo when she was teaching in a technology rich, international school in Brunei. She later worked with these ideas while she was a member of the “e-Section” pilot at the Correspondence School, and more recently has worked with the support of CORE education to develop the programme even further.
The programme targets students aged 7- 14 years, including individual students in schools and home schools, and after school programmes; classroom groups and syndicates of classrooms or whole school groups.
The judging panel considered this project to be relevant to several of the conference themes for this year; Learners, Teaching and Change.
Learners because of the clearly articulated learner-centred philosophy and approach, that is clearly evident in all aspects of the programme design.
Teaching because of the way in which this project demonstrates clearly the role of a teacher in this sort of environment, and
Change because of the way in which the programme so clearly illustrates a model of teaching and learning that falls outside the existing paradigm of school-based learning.
The judges were extremely impressed with the quality of the online environment for the programme, it was easy to navigate and provided access to a wide range of themes and topics that students could participate in. There was plenty of evidence within these areas of students taking part in the planning and development of activities, all the time being mentored, facilitated and supported by teachers and experienced peers.
The technical platform used for the programme makes it very easy for students to manage their learning – including the sharing of content, development of groups, scheduling of synchronous chat sessions and the management of forums.
The judges rated the programme very high for originality and innovation in terms of concept and its implementation. The web site provided evidence of how the programme has been developed over several years, with a large number of the students who are participating having been a part of the programme for 2 or more years. The judges saw the sustained level of activity, and the evidence of longer-term students assuming leadership roles within the community of learners as real strengths.
The panel believe LearnNow is a fine example of an integrated online learning programme aimed at school aged students, and applaud Jo for her efforts in sustaining and managing it over such a period of time.
The DEANZ executive committee are therefore very pleased to be able to present this year’s DEANZ award to Mrs Jo Gibson.