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Rutaki classes go online

Sunday July 14, 2013 Written by Published in Technology

Cook Islands students now have the opportunity to talk and learn from students across the world, thanks to a project called Over The Back Fence (OTBF).

Rutaki School students have been the first to take part, with deputy principal Kristina Crouch leading the online learning project at the school.

OTBF allows students to be part of an online classroom via Skype, with up to four other New Zealand school’s also online at one time. Each weekly session involves students from one school presenting information using Power Point to the other students, with students running the sessions. Students are also able to ask questions of each other during each 20 minute session.

“I love my job when I can be creative and afford kids the same experience while they access the curriculum,” Crouch says of the project.

The project began when Crouch was contacted by project co-ordinator Geoff Wood from Rosmini College in Auckland earlier this year.

“I love that these sessions could potentially be completely student lead,” Crouch said. “I really enjoy that the kids have an opportunity to experience learning from kids teaching kids and through sharing knowledge.”

Crouch says that initially her students were very shy, with their confidence growing as they became more familiar with the project and from using the young New Zealand students as models.

“It is real life, skills for the future thought provoking and best of all, fun. All the necessary ingredients for engaged children.”

The project is set to expand in the Cook Islands, with Omoka School in Penrhyn leading the Pa Enua schools in becoming part of the learning network. Crouch says there are also four other Pa Enua school coming on board, which will further extend the online networking between students.

Crouch’s involvement in OTBF has also resulted in her receiving an invitation to present at the ULearn conference in New Zealand later this year. Crouch will be co-presenting with Wood and also a lecturer from Auckland University, at the conference which looks at learning and teaching within all education levels. Her presentation is to include the successes and challenges of bringing OTBF to the South Pacific.

The conference will also provide Crouch the opportunity to hear what she describes as many amazing international speakers. “I have a strong interest in mathematics teaching, the use of iPads in the classroom, and the implantation and management of a ‘bring your own device’ scheme.”

OTBF has been part of a group effort, with Crouch thanking both Rutaki School principal Nooroa Ingaua and also the Ministry of Education, whom she says have also seen the value of the initiative and supported her attendance at the conference.

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