The four Northland primary schools and one secondary school that make up the Kaikohekohe Education Network had no idea how fortuitous their six-year partnership with the Manaiakalani Education Trust was going to be until the Covid-19 lockdown entered their lives.
As a host of schools around the country struggled to adjust to teaching online with digital devices, the Kaikohekohe schools were able to apply their everyday digital lesson plans and student blogging seamlessly.
Their partnership in professional development with the Manaiakalani Outreach Programme revealed teachers and students alike as models of digitally fluent proficiency for the Ministry of Education's hurried rollout of hybrid learning.
Following their experience of online teaching through lockdown levels 3 and 4, Bay of Islands College invited the teachers to share their thoughts for expanding the process in the future.
Head of physical education Ruth Hills said she could see the benefit of having on-site learning days combined with distance learning days for senior students, such as three days each week at school, and two days working individually at home.
Head of English Hayley Brocklehurst believed the online learning platform was the perfect medium for a number of students, but not all.
"A mix of online learning and school-based, or face-to-face learning, is where I see the education sector heading," she said.
Head of science Kamlesh Prakash said attendance rates for most of his online classes had been more than 70-80 per cent throughout the lockdown period. He agreed that one model would not fit all, but overall he was happy with what his students had achieved so far "in these challenging times".
Patsy Wynyard, head of Māori, said some students had engaged more online than in the classroom, and that more work was done when parents/whānau were fully informed of their children's learning.
Specialist classroom teacher Esther Van Dyke said students had had the devices they needed, and most were very familiar with using virtual resources to craft units of learning.
The training she had received from Manaiakalani and the Kaikohekohe Education Network had enabled her to take "some level of fluency" to the technology that everyone was suddenly required to use every day.
Principal Edith Painting-Davis also acknowledged that there were many resources online that we could be harnessed to amplify learning, but she also sounded a word of caution.
"Nothing can replace an effective teacher, and any teacher who can be replaced by a computer, should be," she said.