There’s an excellent learning event underway for NB educators in Fredericton this week. LearnEast 2.0.11, a high quality, low cost event attended by 200 keen teachers from around the province, has been organized by Bryan Facey (@Faceyman) and Jeff Whipple (@jeffwhipple) of District 18 and Jay Colpitts (@JayColpitts) of District 14. I was happy to be asked to sit on a panel this afternoon and discuss my views (a parent’s perspective) on 21C and virtual learning opportunities for NB students.
In advocating for 21C and virtual spaces I outlined three areas where our modern tools can significantly improve our public education system. Acknowledging that 21C type learning doesn’t require a tech-rich environment, I commented that tech tools and the internet do however enable us to make so many more connections that strengthen the role of public education.
1) Connecting students to their passions – our modern tools allow us to make personalized learning possible. We can go beyond differentiated instruction, beyond ability grouping and reach out and touch the passions of every student of every ability in every school.
2) Connecting parents to the learning in classrooms – be it through inviting comments on a student/class blog, contributing ideas to a school wiki or skyping in from the office to provide real-world perspective on a discussion in the classroom – technology allows parents to interact with the learning in schools that goes far beyond reading comments on a report card or signing off a homework sheet.
3) Connecting the community to the school and the school to the world – the role of public education can be enhanced significantly by building connections between our local resources and our schools as well as by linking our schools to other communities around the world. Many teachers have utilized local/global partners to enhance classroom learning, but the ability to do this virtually expands our capability tremendously and really enables us to authenticate public education as a community building institution.
I summarized my contribution by paraphrasing Stephen Downes (@downes) and encouraging the group to embrace a system where students do not have an education provided for them, but one that empowers students to build an education for themselves.