As I reflect back on the Canada Wide Science Fair now, I can distinctly see tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and innovators together in one space; showcasing the ideas and products that will be the backbone of our economy. I remember the last night we held the closing ceremonies and I had the great fortune of being seated at a table with several students from a school in Toronto. After the introductions the students were curious about the projects that had brought them to such a prestigious event. One project that stood out amongst the crowd was a project that I wish I had to foresight to record. This was my game changer, the TSN turning point. When he started his explanation I thought I was getting an elevator pitch, as if I was an investor. This kid was on. He didn’t care who I was, he’d practiced this pitch and recited it as if it were wrote memory.
Coding clubs, and teaching coding in general is definitely something that I believe is a priority for our schools. Nevertheless, I see becoming much more valuable if it were to be incorporated within a STEM umbrella. Science, technology, engineering, and math oriented clubs and curriculum have been implemented across North America over the past several years. This shift in focus has been in large part due to a shift towards a knowledge-based economy. Students training themselves within these fields are doing so because they crave intellectually stimulating careers, which offer great job security and great pay.
Although my career has taken me down a path that has been increasingly dominated by technology, both in the classroom and as a mentor, my first love was and always will be science. My original degree was in Marine Biology (which I took here at UNBSJ) and I have always maintained a connection to that field. Whether it is SCUBA diving in this beautiful region on the weekends, teaching it in the classroom, or supporting and organizing the district Science Fair, I have always enjoyed it. In fact, I have attended or been in involved in every District Science Fair since I started teaching. The highlight of this involvement was when I was selected as the regional delegate for Anglophone School District South at the 2013 Canada Wide Science Fair in Lethbridge Alberta. Attending this was extremely influential for me, as I saw empirical evidence of how powerful technology and science can be when combined.
As new forms of media become readily available, there are more ways than ever to effectively communicate between home and school. The difficulty is finding which one best suits the needs of the parents and students in your school or district. And herein lies the problem, there are many stakeholders at play when it comes to communication between home and school, and each has their own preferred method. One article that put this in perspective for me was the one posted on @Medium by an actual teen, Andrew Watts. In it he reviews a number of common social media platforms being use by teens, and provides insight on how he and his personal cohort feel about it.
I’ve been mulling over the ideas brought up during last weeks #EastCoastEd all week, while reading reading Steve Johnson’s book Future Perfect. This entire book has provided examples about this new network age we live in, as well as describing the architecture that comprises it. And one thing that has resonated with me this week is the concept of the Legrand Star (centralized) network versus Baran’s network (distributed) with no distinct central point. It was definitely a light bulb moment when I realized the impact that traditional networks and organizations can have on creativity and innovation. As we shift from a media and information model that is transitioning from a push format, to more of pull format, the outer edges of the distributed network will become more and more powerful. A perfect example of this is the advent of the counterculture news agency VICE News and their new journalistic approach (you can watch their response to stories in Kiev, and Venezuela).
As an educator I often like to take a step back and look at the big picture by asking myself questions. One such question that has been on my mind lately is whether or not we are effectively preparing today’s students for an economy that is continually transforming. Last night’s #EastCoastEd conversation gave me a considerable amount of information to digest, and has encouraged me to evaluate what opportunities we provide our students.
I’ve been lucky enough to witness the value of the Entrepreneurship course when taught by a passionate teacher. In some cases this course serves as a catalyst for students to choose a different path. Finding relevance in the curriculum is often difficult for students, and many of them have a hard time seeing the world beyond the walls of their classrooms.
Some of the ideas that came out of the discussion (a cross section of which can be seen below) have given me reason to reflect on my own practice of social media use. The varied perspective of last night’s contributors has encouraged me to find new platforms like Zaption, as well as to identify how the various stakeholders value these tools. Parents, students, teachers or administrators can leverage the advantages of these devices to their advantage. However the one group that always stands out to me are students. So what did we learn last night?