This year’s Technology Enabled Learning and Leading Symposium for Principals is wrapping up today. Yesterday we had the opportunity to have conversations with Dr. Tony Wagner about how the current pathways for our students are no longer leading to success.
Creating that Compelling Case for Change is so critical. We are in times of exponential change, yet for many, this change is invisible as we continue to do things as we have always done in our education system.
Earlier in the week, I had the pleasure of leading, with Mark Carbone, a group of PQP and SOQP instructors in an examination of why change is needed and how we might start considering our work in online spaces differently.
We have included the slides and some of our thinking below.
As we think about the needs of learners in online environments, there is one dichotomy that we often forget.
Some students take online courses because they need a credit or qualification for a life pathway, not because the want to learn.
I was first introduced to this thinking as a secondary online teacher , and I wrote about it on my old blog, School 2 Go, seven years ago .
I am returning to this dichotomy today as I think about how to differentiate the AQ I am currently teaching. Many of my teacher candidates have yet to find consistent work in the teaching profession in Ontario even though they have a wealth of experience. For some of them, this course is just a qualification needed to help them find work. They are busy raising families, doing other paid work and just trying to make it in a system that is so challenging for new educators.
How do I, as an instructor, challenge their thinking and model the kind of online learning we want for our students and teachers, while respecting their need to just “get through it”? How do I remain present in their learning from a distance without becoming a burden to achieving their goals?
This will be part of my personal inquiry going forward.
What if you are the only student at a high school needing a credit in SPH4U? eLearning might be your only option.
As educators, are we really saying that eLearning might not be for this student?
Or should we be saying, eLearning is just learning, and we will adapt our instructional methods to the learning needs of the student just as we would in any other public education setting.
Would we ever say, “Oh, classroom learning might not be for you because you have difficulty sitting in one place for 75 minutes”?
It’s time to challenge the myths around eLearning.
eLearning is NOT putting distance learning materials into an online format.
eLearning is NOT putting a course into an LMS.
eLearning is meeting the individual needs of every learner, just as we would in any other “classroom” in a publicly funded school.
Technology has come a very long way in the 20 years since eLearning began in Ontario. We can meet our students through the digital f2f on many different platforms. We use many synchronous and asynchronous digital tools to collaborate and plan and provide feedback.
Continuing the myth that eLearning is only suited to some students is holding us back in providing all of our students with options that allow them to design their own personal pathways to success.
It is not about students being well-suited for eLearning. In 2016, it is the eLearning that must be suited to the students – all students – and it is up to us as educators to ensure that it is.
We have come a long way in Ontario from the idea that eLearning required a “learning management system” to deliver content, to the understanding that building relationships is at the centre of all learning (f2f or at a distance).
As we work with eLearning teachers through their collaborative inquiries into best practice, I often wonder about how best to “spread” some of the great online pedagogy I see around the province.
Then yesterday, I saw this tweet:
It’s a quick post, an idea that came out of some work with #GEDSBLead, and a great catalyst for sharing, connecting and elevating online learning.
So what if we change this a bit? What if every eLearning teacher tweeted one thing they did each day in their online “classroom” to the hashtag #eLonted – and then took 5 minutes to read each others’ tweets?
We know that connecting online educators works. We know that networking online educators is essential. We know that eLearning teachers want to share their practice.
I posted this short piece on the collaborative #OSSEMOOC blog this morning. Throughout June, the OSAPAC team is encouraging educators to share their thinking by taking a screenshot of something that resonated with them, and sharing it with a few comments. It’s a great way to get started, especially if you are thinking about starting your own blog.
Of course I think a lot about online learning, particularly in Ontario. We have to get past the idea that eLearning is a solution to a problem (timetable issues, can’t get the right course, etc.). eLearning is always in a 1:1 environment, and it transcends the structural learning boundaries of place and time. Imagine the possibilities!