In 2008–09 the Ministry of Education contracted the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) to undertake research about students’ experiences of learning in virtual classrooms. Virtual classrooms were established to enable secondary schools in New Zealand (particularly those in rural and remote areas, and small schools) to overcome issues of distance and resourcing which might otherwise limit the breadth and quality of the curriculum offered to their students. In these classes, students learn through videoconferencing (VC) with teachers, and often other virtual classmates, who are at another location. Other information communication technologies (ICTs) such as emails, content management systems and relevant websites may be used to support learning throughout the week. All virtual classes are managed by the Ministry’s Virtual Learning Network (VLN). Within this network, there are 13 e-learning clusters receiving funding from the Ministry. Hundreds of New Zealand students are learning in virtual classrooms.
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