Distance Education Teachers in NSW collaborate in the writing of new learning resources
In NSW Distance Education is provided by twelve schools, (five secondary schools, one Preschool – year 12 school, a special education school and five primary school), and is available to students who are unable to attend a face to face school due to geographic isolation or other factors that impact on them attending their local school. The schools are located across the state from the far west of the state where Broken Hill School of the Air is located to Ballina on the far north east coast where Southern Cross School of Distance Education is located. Other locations are Queanbeyan, Dubbo, Hay, Bourke, Walgett, Casino, Port Macquarie and Sydney.
Although there are such great distances between the schools the distance education teachers have established strong virtual collegial networks ranging from preschool teachers through to year 12. The twenty networks, which have been created by teachers and coordinated by a teacher selected by the network members, address most key learning areas and areas of focus. These include; History, TAS, Visual Arts (DEVAN), Mathematics, English, Languages, Science, Music, Legal and Business Studies, PDHPE, Geography, Computing Studies, Special Education, Aboriginal Education, Primary, Pre School, Learning Innovation (DELITe), Student Engagement Attendance and Transition (SEAT), Gifted and Talented Students (GATS) and Well Being.
Each network is focused on shared needs and has established their own plan, actions and times lines. Whilst the networks are unique they do have a number of common goals, such as:
· collaboration to create new teaching and learning resources that are shared across the schools for all teachers to use
· peer support and mentoring of their network members, and
· shared professional learning activities.
Along with the peer support and collegiality experienced by the network members one of the major benefits for teachers has been the opportunity for them to work together to manage the writing demands and tight timeframes of the new curricula. The teachers, who are supported by their principals with additional resourcing, have been able to manage the writing of new materials by working strategically, chunking and sharing the writing tasks required to create learning programs in time for them to be sent to their students.
The saying “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole” is a true statement in distance education. The Collegial networks is proof of that.
For more information, please contact Kym Knight, Project Officer with Rural and Distance Education, on 02 63348074.