The Country Education Partnership has had a long interest in supporting rural and remote learning communities in the use of blended learning approaches to enhance and improve learning opportunities and outcomes for their communities.
Blended and virtual learning approaches not only present a contemporary learning approach but have proven to be an effective tool for rural students in addressing their geographic isolation; isolation from peers; specialist teachers and/or venues or services.
As one student highlighted:
“Online learning allows collaboration and discussion with a wider range of students and teachers.”
“Face to face is good for writing notes and answering questions, especially because I am in a small class. However the online class gives a different way of approaching questions, and I found it great for revising things – it also showed me where my weaknesses are and how close my answers are to other students.”
CEP has facilitated the provision of authentic blended learning approaches in rural and remote schools for many years, often stimulated by the challenges rural and remote communities have faced in delivering specialist curriculum areas and also as a way to not only provide choice and breadth, but also to improve learning outcomes of students.
Some of these past initiatives have included:
- the development and provision of VCE learning through clusters of rural schools working collaboratively
- the provision of Languages other than English through rural clusters, especially within primary schools
- the provision of learning activities and programs for talented rural and remote students
- the provision of learning programs in curriculum areas that have been identified by rural and remote schools as difficult to provide – eg Science in upper primary schools.
- the provision of professional development for rural staff.
In 2007, CEP developed the eKids framework to encourage and support the use of blended learning approaches within learning. Information on the eKids Framework can be gained by clicking on: eKids Framework 2014
Over the past six years, eKids has become a transferable model, able to be adapted in diverse rural and remote communities; broaden curriculum options for students across a range of student ages and interests; and in the large majority of cases improved the learning opportunities and outcomes of students involved. It has also built the capacity of rural and remote staff in the use of communication technology as an essential tool in providing learning for their students.
During this time, in excess of 600 rural and remote students, along with 70 teachers have been involved in the eKids programs.
It truly is an accessible, adaptable, contemporary model for rural and remote communities to personalise their students learning, build the capacity of teachers, and improve student learning opportunities and outcomes.
Reports of these initiatives area available by clicking on:
These various eKids initiatives have been supported by a range of partners including:
- Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
- Catholic Education Office
- Helen Macpherson Smith Trust
- Rural and remote learning communities
During 2014, CEP will specifically be supporting a remote learning cluster in the Mallee in developing blended learning approaches across a range of learning areas and levels. Specifically they will focus on:
- VCE provision
- Middle Years programs
- Upper primary school programs.
Pending further funding allocations, CEP will again offer a blended learning initiative later in 2015.