Today I began in a session hosted by Hamilton Wentworth District School Board http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/. They provided some excellent information on their strategies that they were implementing to meet the needs of students in the 21st century. An interesting quote that caused me to reflect was, “Learning should never stop, it must be engaging and have relevance to the learner.” One of the reasons that this statement has caused me to reflect is that no where does it mention technology. It is all about student engagement and relevance which is clearly 21st century learning. Technology may be needed to engage and build relevance but it is still only a tool. It still requires excellent teacher pedagogy and is therefore more about the headware than the hardware.
21st century fluencies continues to be a focus from the district point of view. They have outlined their defintions of these fluencies in a clear and concise manner http://bit.ly/nFmCPm. These fluencies should really be common sense for educators and in today’s educational world should be non-negotiable. How can you argue with solution, information, creativity, media or collaboration fluency?
The next session I attended was presented by Thames Valley District School Board http://www.tvdsb.ca/. The focus of their presentation was on the use of handheld or mobile devices. What I came away with was more questions than answers which is exactly what I need in order to continue on my learning journey. Simple questions like managing iTunes accounts for our classroom sets of iPads or iPods, caused me to reflect on what we need to do. Is there a need for a corporate strategy to assist/enable this to occur? Another consideration came from our table talk: Should we be in the business of providing devices for our students or providing the infrastructure for the use of these devices? I’m a big believer that handheld devices, cellphones, smartphones, etc, should be in our schools, responsibly used for educational purposes. Students should not have to “power down” when they walk into our schools. It is time to remove these barriers with good thought to further engage our students.
There were a couple of additional resources that I would like to share with you. The first is the Horizon Report 2011. http://bit.ly/ghEgS0 I would also suggest thatt you look up the New Media Consortium website http://www.nmc.org/. It certainly has a wealth of information especially if you’re looking at acceptable use policies. Finally, for those interested in furthering their knowledge on handheld devices, take a look at the book, “Toys to Tools” from ISTE http://www.iste.org/welcome.aspx.
Immediately following lunch, Lorelie Lenaour and I presented on our journey in Holy Spirit. We tried to mimic what we had done in the last couple of years, using conversations, Moodle and showing video clips of many of our activities. Our demonstration illustrated our commitment to move our entire LLT forward on the path of 21st century learning. It was cause for celebration and was well received.
Tomorrow is the last day of the conference and then I head back to Lethbridge. The opportunity to share conversations with educators from across Canada is powerful professional development. It has been a very worthwhile learning experience.