Online learning will supplement and complement what traditional schools offer

The fear mongering in the press releases from the Green party and the PPTA have been put to rest by Hekia Parata. A recent speech in Parliament made it very clear that online learning will not be replacing traditional schooling. Instead, as I had predicted in my post this week it will complement traditional education. While she did say ” in whole or in part ” that is likely a reference to it replacing the current correspondence school model.

Partial transcript of the above video:

One of the proposals is the establishment of communities of online learning that will enable online learning in whole or in part as a supplement to classroom learning or a complement to what their schools offer. Digital fluency is the universal language of the 21st century. In the future, a provider, including our mainstream schools, tertiary providers, or private providers will be able to apply to become a community of online learning.

To become a community of online learning, a provider will be required to meet a very high threshold. They will be required to undergo an accreditation regime to ensure that students will have access to a great New Zealand education. They will also be subject to monitoring and an intervention regime, just like all our schools.

Providers will also have to provide evidence of their capacity to provide pastoral care and to meet the well-being needs of students. They will be subject to an accountability regime, including reporting against agreed student achievement outcomes, financial reporting requirements, and Education Review Office reviews.

We also propose to set strict enrolment criteria. For example, a restriction on the enrolment of students for whom there is a high risk of disengagement in an online environment. We welcome the submissions of parents, families and whānau, and the education sector to the select committee.

-Hekia Parata

  • Sally

    Reading some of the feedback on other media the scaremongering that went on about this was astonishing. No way was Parata suggesting shutting down schools and sending children back home to learn by themselves.Thousands of teachers weren’t going to found themselves out of a job. It is offering more choices for children and parents and improving education for the future.

    • Alan Beresford B’Stard

      Exactly, reading the reaction from the usual leftie suspects, you’d think she was closing all schools tomorrow and only having online learning.
      Why are they so stupid? Anyone who doesn’t think online learning, in some form, is the way of the future is either wilfully ignorant or living in a cave.

  • sandalwood789

    This sounds fair enough.

    What Parata seems to be suggesting is a bit more use of “distance learning” and online learning along the lines of the Open University in the UK. That seems to work pretty well there from what I can see.

    Even the prestigious MIT has its “OpenCourseWare” in which almost all of the content of MIT courses is available on the web –

  • jaundiced

    To a large extent it is happening already. Kids complete their homework assignments on-line and uni students can watch their lectures on-line. Its about choice and flexibility.
    Despite Angela’s protestations, I didn’t for a moment imagine the idea was to close down the schools

  • Dog Breath

    On line learning is not restricted to kids or to their education and has been around for years. Greens and Labour you may have heard of it, It’s called Google.

    • biscuit barrel

      Even longer than that
      When they invented mass production of books in the 14th century all learning ‘could be conducted remotely’
      Never happened though

  • T Mardell

    “In the future, a provider, including our mainstream schools, tertiary
    providers, or private providers will be able to apply to become a
    community of online learning”.

    So the primary focus here is that the existing providers have the option to offer another method of delivery, addressing the current and evolving technologies in education.

    Also the option is there for private providers who have the additional skills to get involved – what does this do? … it keeps the existing providers honest and on their nettle … and it is this, and only this that the unions don’t like.

    Great scheme.

  • R&BAvenger

    Sounds like Hekia is on the right track. Digital fluency is definitely important in this day and age. There was an item on 60 minutes about a young Australian lad which I think dovetails into this topic well and shows the importance of becoming fluent in the digital context as a user and as a creator as well. Details at links, including 60 Minutes interview.

    On line learning is an addition to how folks learn these days. Some learn from reading, some from lecturing, some from discussion, and this is another learning option that should be embraced.

  • jcpry

    Also a great way of being able to strengthen the performance of the lower decile schools and improve the ability of teachers in these schools by seeing what others are doing.
    It can be used to fill in individual students gaps and to also extend those who require it. Win Win as far as I can see.

  • Michael

    My kids maths homework (set by the school) is done via the online maths games site Matheletics. It’s a for profit company, the school pays a subscription for the students to have access.

    Somebody alert the media!

    • Jdogg

      Indeed, can’t wrap my head round the whinging, with most homework completed online in most subjects and school work handed in via google docs – the very good equivilant to microsoft office?

      • biscuit barrel

        So if they watch the Chaser, they can learn about world events ?

  • Tony Norriss

    The advantage of online learning is that it protects children from teachers.

    • Aucky

      You would need to justify that sweeping statement Tony – the vast majority of our kids get a very good education. The author of this post is or was a member of the teaching profession. My kids are teachers and routinely spend 60-70 hours a week doing their job and there are several WOBH regulars who teach.

      I would venture to suggest that there will be many more kids who could benefit from online learning who will not get the opportunity to do so because of their dysfunctional family environments than there are kids getting a deficient education under the current system.

      • Tony Norriss

        I mean protection in terms of protection from all the subtle left wing propaganda that schools tend to expose children to.

        In my experience the actual quality of teaching (of content) is quite variable. At least online learning standardises the learning process.

        • Aucky

          I see standardisation as one of the problems unless the kids have contact with teachers on a regular basis. You can learn Shakespeare online and word for word. Not a problem. But who teaches you the nuances of Shakespeare’s phrasing and how do you collaboratively read through Henry V with a laptop?

          I agree that some teachers are left wing and others right wing but most sit in the middle. Did you know that over half of primary teachers are no longer union members? NZEI dont promote that for obvious reasons. But surely if you dont like the politics that your kids are getting from school then it’s your job as a parent to give your kids the other side. Schools only have your children for 35 hours a week. They’re all yours for the remaining 133 hours a week and home is where their minds are truly shaped.

          • biscuit barrel

            very good point , as usual Aucky. Teachers are mostly like the community they teach in. Some things are agenda driven like climate change but thats from a national level and not just a teachers preference. As well theres the old adage, you can teach this or that but will they remember much ?

          • Tony Norriss

            I did a Master’s degree mainly extramurally through Massey. The masters year was done through a combination of extramural learning and block courses. I found it an excellent mode of learning.

            So far as phrasing etc goes, you would be surprised at how well the automated systems can handle that sort of thing. For instance, I have just been learning French online via The system gives feedback on pronunciation etc. So, this is a developing field.

            Also, the likes of Skype etc gives the opportunity for virtual classes for interaction between students.

          • Aucky

            Pronunciation is as easy as but a laptop will never be able to provide a reasoned argument, promote debate or proffer an opinion and that’s where the human element is indispensible to a larger or lesser degree depending on the subject. Skype merely provides a classroom without physical boundaries but will still require a teacher/lecturer.

            When quoting yourself as an example you are talking about a mature adult in tertiary education – a different prospect to a challenged teenager or children of primary school age.

            There are so many facets to deal with. It is a great concept but will not happen overnight and surely is not the silver bullet to cure all of the ills in our system.

          • Tony Norriss

            From my experience, online learning isn’t entirely interaction with a computer program. There is interaction online with tutors and other students, so it isn’t a completely automated learning process.

            Give it a few years though and teachers may go the way of the vacuum tube TV.

          • Tony Norriss

            Some of these youtube videos may give you some food for thought in the ability of robots/computers to debate rationally in the future.


  • LesleyNZ

    Online learning will be fantastic for those children who have physical/medical disabilities – such as those children termed “Heart Children”. My 7 year old niece is a “heart child’ because she was born (in simple terms) without the upper chamber in her heart. She has had a few operations which have helped her immensely and still has some to go. Looking at her and her energy at times we forget that in fact she has serious health issues. By the afternoon though she can get quite tired. She was at school for a year but by the afternoon she would need a nap so she was missing out on a lot of afternoon school time. She also really can not afford to get sick – colds and flu. Unfortunately a lot of children come to school obviously unwell – or they come back too soon and spread the germs – especially with coughing. Whenever there was a flu or gastro outbreak my niece would not be able to attend school and that could go on for a few weeks. So after a year of attending school my sister decided that it would be much better to homeschool her – not because she really wanted to or totally believes in homeschooling but because she had to – there was no option. My sister is a trained teacher so that is an advantage but it is hard work homeschooling and there are a lot requirements and paperwork to complete. For those in a similar situation with children who have health problems which makes attending school difficult, online learning is going to be a positive blessing – especially for those parents who feel homeschooling on their own is too much of a responsibility for them.

    • SlightlyStrange

      And additional bonus in these situations is that you may be able to join a community of learning in your immediate neighbourhood, thereby increasing your links to the community.
      I know there are many homeschool groups if you know where to look for them, but being able to participate in some school events / attend school when feeling up to it while being mostly homeschooled could be a massive social advantage too.

  • Whitey

    The proposed restrictions around enrollment are interesting. The Correspondence School has always struggled with keeping students engaged, and many kids drop out or fail to keep up with the coursework. That’s not the Correspondence School’s fault, they provide quality education and there are some outstanding teachers there (I know this because I did a couple of Correspondence subjects during my high school years). It happens because studying by correspondence is hard work. It requires a lot of motivation and self-discipline on the part of the student. Therefore, distance education doesn’t work for every student.

    It sounds like the Minister wants to ensure that kids who participate in online learning are likely to cope with it, which is probably a good thing.

  • Iva b ginn

    The one thing that amused me was that they claim that online learning would be detrimental to the students social interaction. They obviously haven’t observed students and what they do in their spare time. All they seem to do is Txt each other so it wouldn’t make any difference weather they were at home or in a group, they seem to communicate via Txt messages all the time.
    I personally think it is a great idea it is the way of the future.

  • SlightlyStrange

    Well, that’s a completely different slant to what the initial media reports were saying, and much more like I was hoping it would be.