Personal Bio: Derek Wenmoth

I am currently the Director of eLearning CORE Education Ltd, a not-for-profit research and education organization based in Christchurch, New Zealand. I have a broad background in education, with experience at the primary (elementary) and secondary school level, and as teacher educator.

My academic interests are in educational technology and distance education. I spent 11 years as a lecturer in educational technology, and also established the first pre-service teacher ed. qualification available at a distance in New Zealand. More recently I spent time as the manager of the eLearning division at New Zealand's Correspondence School, before helping establish CORE Education in 2003. CORE Education is responsible for a number of national ICT professional development programmes and also carries out a lot of research in this area on behalf of our Ministry of Education.

I spend most of my time now working on a variety of projects relating to eLearning and the use of ICT in education, and have a particular interest in the emergence of virtual schooling around the world, and in the ways in which we can understand the value of what we are doing with ICT in the classroom.

When not buried in my work I can be found spending time with my five children, ranging in ages from 23 down to 6! I have a particular passion for enjoying the many outdoor areas of New Zealand, so spend as much time as I can in the hills and mountains near where I live.

Links to my blog and company website:

Holding a Mirror to our ICT Practice

In my keynote presentation I want to explore the importance of the discipline of reflective practice as we seek to make sense of what we are doing in our classes with ICT. We can no longer wait for the results of traditional forms of research done by others to 'prove' the efficacy of our practice - the pace of change and emerging opportunity demands that every educator must be involved in some form of practitioner research. Without it, our classroom practice risks becoming 'disconnected' from the emerging understandings and theories around the use of ICT.

Chris Argyris and Donald Schon once commented “The difference between our espoused theory and our theory-in-use is becoming distressingly noticeable.” This is especially concerning when we consider conferences like this – where we meet together (virtually) and get enthused, nodding in agreement with the keynotes and presenters – then return to our schools and classrooms to continue doing the same old things.

How many sessions have you attended about web2.0 technologies, handhelds in the classroom or interactive whiteboards and returned to a classroom full of desks and text books? Or been inspired by talk about collaboration, constructivism, creativity, learner choice and personalization – only to return to high stakes assessment and external standards?

How can we close the gap between “espoused theory and theory-in-use?” We need to hold a mirror to our professional practice and begin reflecting critically on what we are doing! If enough teachers do this then we will not only see the results at an individual classroom level, but also at a whole school and whole system level – building from what is happening in classrooms with students, and not reliant on top-down, standardized approaches that end up stifling innovation.

In my keynote I'll use examples from New Zealand to illustrate how we've attempted to resolve this, both at an individual level, and at a whole school and systemic level. I'll also describe an online tool that we've developed as a result of our New Zealand research which seeks to assist teachers in their self-research.

Teaser: The Promise of ICT

Links and Resources

The following links relate to projects and resources referred to in my keynote: