An evaluation of Arts Professional Development Online in support of the Arts in the New Zealand curriculum

Publication Details

Arts Professional Development Online' commenced nationally during 2001 to support the implementation of 'Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum', targeted specifically at rural and isolated schools. This report details the outcome of an evaluation of this professional development that was carried out late 2002.

Author(s): Rosemary Hipkins with Ed Strafford, Roberta Tiatia and Fiona Beals, New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

Date Published: June 2003

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Summary

This report is the outcome of a Ministry of Education contract to evaluate the Arts Online Professional Development Programme.

The Arts Online Professional Development Programme is a Web-based curriculum implementation support package targeted specifically at rural and isolated New Zealand schools. Both the interactive site itself and the accompanying support processes and materials have been designed to help teachers prepare for and implement The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum. The arts is the seventh of 7 essential learning areas to be developed within New Zealand's overall curriculum framework. The Arts Online initiative is intended to help teachers to address the structure and intent of the new curriculum, as well as practical issues associated with planning for the implementation of the curriculum within the context of their individual schools. Although the evaluation covers the time period from the outset of the project in 2001 up until the end of the 2002 year, the initiative is ongoing in 2003, with 92 schools involved at the time this report was written. New resources have been steadily added to the site throughout the initiative and during the time that has elapsed since the data for this evaluation was gathered.

Participation from individuals in such schools was initially sought via "smart fax" advertising. Individuals with an interest in the arts, who could share their learning with other teachers in their schools, were invited to register interest. In this respect the initiative shows similarities to the Curriculum Leadership model of face-to-face professional development in the arts, as implemented by the 6 regional providers throughout New Zealand in the 2001 and 2002 years. Most teachers who took part had 6 months of this face-to-face delivery, although some had a full year of professional development. Where relevant, findings from the parallel research on these face-to-face initiatives will be compared with findings from this evaluation of the online initiative.

The Arts Online initiative ran for the first time in the 2001 year and continued in the 2002 year. Some schools remained in the initiative over this time, some withdrew, and some new schools joined in 2002. This research has attempted to sample participants from the early stages of the research (the "former" users) as well as "current" participants. The differentiation is important because it has allowed us to identify shifts in perceptions and issues as teachers' familiarity and comfort with the initiative has increased over time.

As well as seeking views from teachers who have experienced the online professional development, the research includes two other types of perspective. Perceptions of the initiative articulated by the national co-ordinators of the 4 disciplines within the arts (dance, drama, music, visual arts) and from those most closely involved in delivering the initiative for the Ministry of Education (the "providers") are also documented.

This research provides information about the effectiveness of the provision of online professional development through the Arts Professional Development Online programme in supporting its participants in their implementation of The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum for Year 1-8 and Year 9-10 students. The research identifies and describes key features of the Arts Online programme that contributed to its perceived effectiveness, and also suggests changes that could be considered to increase the effectiveness of this mode of delivery in the future.