Its official! MSS and PSS are moving to a blended learning environment, 1:1 BYOD in the Fall of 2014!
Read the press release here: http://scdsb.on.ca/About%20Us/Pages/NewsDetails.aspx?NewsId=987 .
What does this mean?
It means that all grade 9’s coming into our schools will bring a laptop or a tablet starting September 2014. A fully functional device that they choose. If a family cannot provide one for their student, we will. One that they take home for the school year. Every one of our grade 9’s will have access to the technology they need to access resources, materials, communication/collaboration tools and the support they need after school hours and in school.
Students will all have different devices. Students can choose the devices that work best for them based on their strengths, needs and preferences.
How does this impact learning? What will the classroom look like?
To be completely clear – this does NOT mean students will be doing online courses. Students will attend face-to-face classes as they do now and the teacher will be there leading the learning. There will still be lessons. At times the devices won’t be used at all, because we still put a very high value on discussion, collaboration, group work, physical activity, artistic abilities, design process, building things, tinkering and making. In classes right now many teachers post materials online, hold online discussions and collaboration opportunities using the web. Our concern is that not every student has access to these in an equitable manner. When each student has a device, teachers can integrate technology seamlessly. Students can choose how to organize learning materials in ways that make sense to them. Everyone can participate fully.
When every student has a device, it allows;
- learning to be differentiated among students (access different types of materials, based on learning styles, to learn the same content or develop the same skills). Basically we can all learn the same things, but take different pathways to get there.
- collaboration among class members and beyond the walls of our classes to be seamless (example: having a med student support a science class in learning body systems, discussions with authors)
- students to take on more responsibility for their own learning
- students to create digital artefacts that demonstrate their understanding of concepts (digital artefacts could include video, animation, audio recordings, blog posts, etc.)
- students to develop the skills required for post-secondary options such as college, the workplace and university. Almost all jobs, universities and colleges use technology. Whether it be computers and tablets in the workplace or online learning management systems that every university and college has moved towards using, the technology is there.
What does this mean for teacher professional development?
It makes the goals of our TLLP project ever so important. We are supporting each other in developing the skills we need to lead the learning in a classroom infused with technology. We need to learn things as simple as how to use some tools and as complicated and philosophies and pedagogies to engage learners in this technology-enabled learning environment. We will do this by focusing on high-yield, tried-and-true, research-based instructional strategies. For example, research shows that descriptive feedback is one way of truly helping students improve. We will embed this strategy with technology that can be accessed on every type of device and practice using it with our students. Doing this with a variety of instructional strategies, we will develop the skills we need to lead the learning effectively in this new and exciting learning environment!