Virtual enrichment in rural NSW
Dungog Community of Schools shares how they provide enrichment programs across key learning areas using virtual classrooms.
The Dungog and District Community of Schools is in rural NSW and includes seven primary schools and one secondary school: Clarence Town, Dungog, Glen William, Gresford, Martins Creek, Paterson, Vacy and Dungog Public School. The primary schools range in size from one class to twelve, and Dungog High School has a current enrolment of approximately 650 students.
Many students in rural and remote areas find it difficult to access enrichment opportunities because of the barriers of geography and small school sizes. The release of the Rural and Remote Blueprint for action highlights the need to ensure equitable access to curriculum opportunities for all students, regardless of their location.
Since 2014, the Dungog and District Community of Schools have provided a virtual enrichment program for students in our schools across a range of key learning areas. Using learning platforms including Adobe Connect and OneNote through Microsoft 365, students have worked with an expert facilitator to support their learning in creative writing, science, technology, visual arts and student wellbeing. Each program is tailored to the needs identified by the learning community within their student population. Identified students from across the community meet at a face to face session and then undertake a series of virtual lessons through Adobe Connect at their own school. Students upload their work to OneNote Class Notebook and complete tasks either independently or as a small team within their own school.
Rural and remote education grants have successfully supported the provision of professional learning for staff in the use of the technology and the facilitation of the programs. Support from Aurora College has enabled us to use effective structures, platforms and to refine our practice. A focus group with representation from all schools in the community identifies need, sources facilitators from within our schools and outside experts, provides technology audits and advice, reviews program design and evaluates all aspects of the project.
The initiative has had a very positive impact on learning and teaching across the breadth of the learning communities involved. Student learning has been enriched and has resulted in high levels of student engagement and learning success. Collaborative relationships between students across the learning communities and the links developed with Aurora College have successfully facilitated secondary transition. Collaborative relationships between teachers across the learning community and the provision of leadership opportunities has resulted in sustained practice in the use of 21st century learning pedagogy and tools.
Managing Principal of the Virtual Enrichment Program - Sarah-Jane Hazell email@example.com
Principal Gresford Public School - Pauline Mitchell pauline.Mitchell@det.nsw.edu.au
Technology Co-ordinator for the Virtual Enrichment Program - Gillian Manning firstname.lastname@example.org
To access a visual representation of this journey, download the Dungog and District Community of Schools Virtual enrichment in rural NSW infographic (PDF 51.42KB).
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