Whalley, R., & Khoo, E. G. L. (2016). Supporting primary student independence in virtual learning: Investigating the role of school-based support staff. In N. Wright (Ed.), DEANZ2016:There and back: Charting flexible pathways in open, mobile and distance education (pp. 247–253). Hamilton, New Zealand: DEANZ.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10281
This paper reports on the emerging findings of a small qualitative study investigating the role of school based support staff (hereafter referred to as SBSS) in supporting students to become independent virtual learners in the Virtual Learning Network Primary School (VLNP). The VLNP is a collaboration of schools throughout New Zealand providing virtual learning opportunities for their students in subjects that are not available in their own schools. The SBSS are staff members in the student’s home school who support and mentor the student during their time in the VLNP. Students that learn through the VLNP have varying levels of academic, technical and independent skills. In some schools SBSS assist students, however the expectations and degree of support varies from school to school. Two schools within the VLNP were used in this study. An interpretive qualitative methodology was adopted using individual semi-structured online interviews with the teachers, eteachers, principals and students at each of the case study sites. Grounded Theory was used to analyse the data. Eight key themes emerged to highlight the multiple roles that the SBSS importantly play in the VLNP. These include developing critical thinking, providing a wrap around approach, removing barriers to learning, providing opportunities, tuakana/teina: learning from each other, allowing students to take responsibility for their own learning, monitoring teaching and learning, and having administrative/managerial processes in place. The key findings in this study are of distributed support by all stakeholders and the importance of the role of the SBSS in coordinating this support.
This article has been published in the proceedings of DEANZ Biennial Conference There and back again: Charting flexible pathways in open, mobile and distance education. Used with permission.
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