Tag Archives: country education project

Virtual Teacher Trainee Practicum – why it has to happen!

Why it is imperative to support digital or eLearning in education – both at the classroom level and at the Teacher training Institutions?

The University of Ballarat, Country Education Project and Hawkesdale P12 College have formed an informal partnership to trial virtual trainee teacher practicums.  Some possible reasons are listed below.

Teacher Training Institutions/Student Teacher Undergraduates

  • Teacher trainees are not exposed to teaching and learning with digital technology  at University or other training institution to any depth.
  • Teacher trainees neither expected or made to use technology.
  • Teacher trainees are entering schools with little experience in digital learning and teaching and as grads they will not pursue this as a first strategy for teaching. It is too daunting!
  • Teacher trainees realise students come to school and are not fully stimulated
  • Training in the media would open their minds to what’s at there at their finger tips and be able to choose the tools that best suit their teaching style and content of lesson.
  • Ultimate in www. Learning ….. where-ever, whatever, when ever!!!  Anywhere, anytime and any how!
  • Lets teacher trainees take risks and make mistakes within a structured framework!
  • Teaches them learning can take its own course with individuals
  • Allows for more student directed learning
  • Teaches them to be facilitators not deliverers of information – the future direction of 21st century education.
  • Teaches them they don’t have all the answers and are not supposed to.
  • Teaches them to get students to source information and to take risks yet verify it.
  • Allows them to work in a blended learning environment.
  • Empowers them with skills to teach across schools eg virtual teaching of specialist subjects in small country schools to ensure students do not miss out on breadth and depth of education.
  • Prepares them for the ultranet – a huge PLUS!
  • Enables them to establish a wide personal learning network who will support, mentor and share with them.
  • This will teach educator trainees to rethink teaching and shape who they are as a teacher in the 21st century!

Why bring digital learning into the classroom for student learning

Why bring digital learning into the classroom for Student learning

  • Students need to be engaged with what they are doing to improve learning outcomes – technology engages them.
  • Teaches students to be thinkers/learners/risk takers in a sheltered environment.
  • Teaches them not to rely on the teacher…be accountable themselves…become independent!
  • Teaches digital literacy.
  • Teaches them valuable employable skills in a digital world –appropriate online behaviour, good digital citizenship, cybersafety, plaguarism, working with virtual teams, self discipline in a virtual world etc
  • Broadens the horizons of many students as it exposes students to the world outside their country town.
  • Fits in with Rural Education where students in small rural schools need no longer be disadvantaged by distance and isolation, as technology allows them to learn virtually and maintain their subject choices, allows eg  LOTE (languages) and other specialist subjects to be taught across schools by a virtual teacher.
  • A more intimate environment than one through distance education.
  • Inspires them to seek more from school
  • Gets kids to go to school!

This article has been written in conjuncetion with Lesley MacGregor, Country Education Project.


Weeks 2 and 3 of Online Teaching Practicum

A partnership between the University of Ballarat, Country Education Project and Hawkesdale P12 College is trialling a 6 week Virtual Teaching Round Practicum. Two of the student teachers, Abby Schultz and Michelle Iro are in our school for the 6 weeks. 4 weeks will be used to get to know the students, classes, subjects and staff with the fifth, being the virtual teaching placement and the 6th week will be back at school again for reflection.

Learning the online tools

Week 1 was spent introducing many new web2.0 tools that could be used for online teaching. It is unfortunate that university Educational faculties are not training students for eLearning yet. Weeks 2  and 3 further developed skills in the use of web2.0

Over this time, Michelle and Abby have also been exposed to great examples of virtual classooms. The have participated in virtual learning spaces –  the Boston, USA linkup with years 9/10 ICT, the two  online presentations on Kanawinka and Hong Kong geoparks, in elluminate, as part of Earth Science week and a videoconference using skype with a school in Ipoh, Malaysia. Both girls have also completedtheir first session of moderator training, through Innovations and Next Practise, of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Michelle has also had the opportunity to visit Bianca’s online teaching work with grade4 students. Bianca, our third student teacher,  is teaching from Senshan in China.

Week 4 is about to begin and is the final week leading up to the virtual placement. Supervising staff will meet with the girls to determine what needs to be put in place to ensure as smooth a delivery as possible for this trial.

  • how many lessons will the girls attempt online
  • what will they teach
  • what tools will they use to teach effectively
  • how will it look
  • what hardware and software is required
  • how can they control the class
  • alternatives should the internet go down.
  • how is everyone feeling about it all
  • how do we enusre that the student teachers are ready?
  • how do we ensure that the classes are ready – cyber safety, plaguarism, copyright issues, appropriate online behaviour, consequences of misbehaviour
  • how do we ensure that the supervising staff are ready?
  • other???

What suggestions do you, the readers have? Please comment below as we need feedback, encouragement and support in this HUGE endeavour.

The key stakeholders all meet - CEP, UB, student teachers, teachers

Virtual teaching rounds – week 1

This week marks the first week ofvirtual teaching rounds.Three student teachers, soon to graduate have taken up this innovative but challenging trial project. This is a partnership between the Country Education Project, University of Ballarat and Hawkesdale P12 College. It is running on a shoe string budget.

 Bianca, is going to be with us for three weeks and over in China for four weeks. From China, Bianca hopes to teach virtually her grade 4 class from China. The other two teachers will be off campus for one week, teaching virtually. She will work with grade 4 at our school and Carly Vize. Abby is working in the humanities area and Michelle in maths/humanities – both are in the middle years. Due to Bianca’s almost immediate departure to China next week, she was a priority to set up with some online teaching skills – Bianca will use skpye (the chat, audio, video and screen sharing ability), a class blog, wallwisher and other tools for her virtual interaction. Biance will purchase a dongle once in China to give her 24/7 access to the internet. The challenge will be blocked sites.

Getting Ready:

As we can find no experience to work upon, we are ‘playing this by ear’, ‘winging it and’ learning on the fly’!! The three girls are ideal candidates – willing to learn, enthusiastic,optimistic, have a sense of humour, are confiden, willing to work hard, eager to learn  and best of all are keen to make this work! Bianca is working in the primary section with grade 4 and their teacher. Each of the supervising teachers have differing levels of expertise with technology, ranging from highly experienced to still mastering some of the tools. Here is the setup for them!

Day one

  1. Our technician worked on their laptops so they can access our school network and wireless internet. It was too much to reghost their laptops as they would have to be wiped at the end of the round, so our school lent them a netbook each which has the Edustar image found on all our netbooks and a wonderful suite of software tools
  2. Two lesson times were set aside, to work with the girls on tools that they might use for teaching online – voicethread, wallwisher and wordle.

Day two

  • worked with their classes and shadowed their supervising teachers.
  • emailed Julie Lindsay to see which online tools are blocked in China.

Day Three

  1. Abby and Bianca joined my accounting class to see how the virtual student from Balmoral is accommodated.
  2. Britt Gow and I worked with the girls after school in our usual WIWOW time.
  3. Commenced a class blog for each – learnt how to edit and add an image using irfanview See  Bianca’s class blog, Michelle’s class blog and Abby’s class blog
  4. Recorded Bianca with her impressions of her first class – introducing them to the fact she was going to China
  5. Abby registered for and  started a voki (animated avatar)
  6. The girls enjoyed one of our staff functions at the TAFE Endeavours  restaurant in Warrnambool at night.

Day Four

  • worked with Bianca to ensure she knew how to work her class blog

Day five

  • Online linkup with a teacher, Lorraine Leo, from Boston, USA, listening to her share her class, classroom and the city she lives in. Lorraine is an experienced and effective online teacher and uses inteactivity with students wherever possible. However, data transmission was slow this time and her video image cut in and out for a start. Abby and Michelle sat in on this.
  • worked with Bianca again and discussed her approach whilst in China


  1.  The dongles, allowing mobile internet access,  did not come with the girls. This has been a real constraint as they need internet access at night time to complete their journals, online lesson plans etc. (they will be picked up this weekend from Ballarat)
  2. The lack of a budget. Means that all work has to be done in spares etc with no promise of CRT replacement
  3. Lack of netbooks that can be dedicated to this round so our school had to allow the girsl one from our library sets. These are in high demand from classes and senior students who do not have their own netbooks
  4. Time – time to write this all up, blog about it, share in discussions etc Time to keep in online contact with Lesley MacGregor, our great support from Country Education Project who liaises with us and the University of Ballarat.
  5. Their lack of knowledge of many of the potential tools that can be used for eLearning. This needs to be taught in the Education faculties of Universities and become part of teacher training.

Other factors

  1. Need to take care of our stress levels as this is extremely demanding and time consuming.

The unexpected factors:-

  1. We have laughter, excitement and the influence of youth in our staffroom
  2. Three young innovative youth are working with innovative teachers within our school and pushing innovation at a faster pace. They are sharing their ideas, approaches and experiences with digital technology and I love it! It is worth all the hard work!

Britt and Michelle working it out!

A Proud Day!

Mr Myer and me, with a framed certificate of the award.

Mr Myer and me, with a framed certificate of the award.

Several weeks ago, I attended the annual general meeting of the Country Education Project Victoria (CEP). A new scholarship kindly sponsored by Bailleu Myer was offered this year, for the first time,  for Rural Education Leadership. The three finalists were invited to the meeting to await the announcement of the winner. I was so proud to be named the winning recipient. Unfortunately, Mr Myer had to leave the meeting immediately for another appointment, so a photo shoot had to be organized for a later date.

So this morning, I caught the train to Melbourne and met Phil Brown from CEP, who kindly drove me to the home and offices of Mr Bailleu Myer. Mr Myer was a very kind host, showing us true country hospitatlity giving us a cup of tea, a slice of home made lemon hedgehog and who sat and talked to us for nearly an hour. He is very passionate about a fair and equal education for all Australians, especially for the country students and our indigeneous counterparts who live in the outback or who live a good distance from major towns. He questioned us as to our approaches in attempting to solve these problems and an interesting discussion eventuated.

I loved hearing about his mother who owned the Queenscliff hotel. When in the early 1900’s, the telephone was introduced, his mother could see no need for a telephone as she had servants, the post, transport of kind etc. However, when she died she had one of the largest of telephone bills. Mr Myer could see no need for computers until recently and now he has five. A truly wonderful, fascinating gentleman.

After our photo shoot, he wanted to know how I would use the generous amount of money. It is to be used for personal development. I would love to continue to make Asian connections as their time zone is so close to ours and we can work together in synchronous timing. As I have seen so many powerful learning outcomes stemming from the flatclassroom project, I really want to attend the mini conference in February next year, in Mumbai. My interest, is to continue working on synchronous and asynchronous means of connecting with other classes, working towards a virtual classroom and incorporating the best tools for learning in the digital age. The goal is to then share it particularly with my fellow country counterparts to enable country students to get the best possible education.

 I wish to sincerely thank the generousity of Mr Bailleu Myer in providing this scholarship and the Country Education Project for their role in its provision.