This past year I became a board member for CHAT to the Future Canada. What began as just a consultation for a website review and remake, ended up in a more substantive commitment to an inspiring Saint John based organization. After several coffee’s and conversations with the organizations founder Adam McKim, I realized how much this organization aligned with my own passion for education, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship. As a technology teacher at Hampton High School last year, I saw first hand the impact this organization can have on students in North America… and in Uganda.
The past two years have been an amazing journey. I can’t say enough about the University of British Columbia’s Masters in Educational Technology (MET) program, and am truly grateful to all the professors and staff that make the program what it is.
The MET program introduced me to new concepts, and new learnings that I have already been able to implement in classrooms throughout Anglophone School District South. However, what made the program so unique were the students I collaborated with on numerous projects. Working with colleagues from across the globe I gained a lot from the many conversations and different perspectives that were shared, especially those enrolled in the program that were outside K-12 education.
As an educator I feel we are at a critical moment. This is a time for tough conversations, and I feel this masters program allowed me to facilitate a lot of them on a weekly basis. I will always be indebted to the entire MET faculty, and their dedication to keeping the content relevant and up to date.
Now to find the next challenge.
The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities just recently announced $42 million dollars in funding for the development of Ontario Online. The purpose of this organization will be to create a non-profit organization that will facilitate the development of a one-stop shop for all post secondary online courses for both Universities and Colleges in Ontario. This is a radical strategy that intends to foster collaboration between and amongst Universities and Colleges to create and redesign courses collaboratively with the purpose of alleviating redundancies in current courses as well as fostering greater transfer credits between Institutions and sectors.
This is one of the most ambitious attempts to integrate and support online learning at a provincial level in Canada. It has numerous implications for future developments in other provinces and has the potential to be a flagship program that can be replicated. I am proposing to do a case study of the University of Waterloo’s Center for Extended Learning and it’s involvement in the inaugural year of Ontario Online.
This University has been at the forefront of Institutional change with regards to the development of online learning. I wish to address the barriers and drivers to e-learning projects, specifically focusing on faculty development and engagement.
The implementation of a successful elearning strategy for Higher Education can be born from many places. Students from all walks of life look to different institutions that can provide access to the programs and certificates they need to pursue the careers that they wish to enter. When left on their own, Universities and Colleges can choose to lure in mature students looking to upgrade, and enhance their online course offerings to meet that need. For example, the University of Waterloo has an impressive online catalogue of courses provided by their Centre for Extended Learning. This program alone offers over 240 courses in over 40 subject areas. Although this is just one example of an Ontario University, there are a number of others such as Ryerson and Western that have started to recognize the competitive advantage in providing this service.
Storytelling is something that I have always enjoyed. Whether it is reading a novel to elementary students, or crafting a narrative of events that I have been part of, I have always found it useful. It is one of the oldest methods for educators, and is one that I feel is often forgot or under utilized within classrooms. Malcolm Gladwell has to be the pre-eminent example that exemplifies how teaching through stories makes learning more meaningful. When you can provide a real life example of your concept or theory in action, it makes it more tangible and allows the audience to become invested in the material presented.
I don’t think I would have ever seen the value behind the story of the development of Pesto’s Chunky Pasta line, until I heard it told by Malcolm Gladwell. However, it teaches a great lesson about diversity and how the pursuit of one perfect pasta sauce is a fallacy. Not every student learns the same, and not every palate wants a sweet pasta sauce. I reflected on this very lesson when I began my search for a platform that I could use to best illustrate and showcase my story.
“Knowledge is not a transferable commodity and communication not a conveyance.” This quote by Von Glaserfeld denotes a shift in thinking in how curriculum and consequent lesson planning should be designed. Meaningful learning occurs when the learner discovers the content on their own, by utilizing prior knowledge to help interpret what they are trying to rationalize (Glasersfeld, 2008).
The article as written by Lenski, Crawford and Crumpler and involves a topic that garners little discourse in the world of pre-service teachers and beginning teacher induction programs. However, the authors of this study contend that it is a major area of concern that should dominate more attention and one that requires more in depth research and study to reconcile the issues arising due to the increase in diversity of today’s classrooms.
As stated in their introduction the national average of white teachers in the United States is over 90%. The issue facing pre-service teachers entering the profession is that classrooms are becoming increasingly more diverse and that current education programs are not adequately preparing them for that reality. The authors contend that any programs that currently purport to be address this are following a model that encourages teachers to adopt “difference blindness” and view each student not as individuals with different heritages, religious beliefs, or The authors of this study try to address this issue with the creation of the Beyond Awareness Project. This project contends that if pre-service teachers are trained to act as ethnographers as well as teachers, they were tasked with learning more about their own culture, and becoming participant observers that learn about their students cultures, religious practices, social-economic status, and how they can use this to see their students as individuals. This perspective would then allow them to guide decisions in the classroom.
The two institutions I decided to dissect are the West Valley College and Virgina’s Techs plan. Both universities primary focus is to expand on fully online distance education courses as well as provide more blended courses with enhanced multimedia enrichment.
With the overwhelming amount of options available to higher education institutions, it is pertinent that due diligence and proper attention be given to the various offerings that currently exist in this domain. Numerous post-secondary institutions have realized over the past decade that the need to develop strategies and methodologies designed to take advantage of these new offerings.
In a recent article posted by Clay Shirky on the issues facing Higher Education, he addresses increased tuition costs, and how as a result of a series of temporary solutions over the past 40 years they have created a crisis. These decisions have been made in order to preserve a set of practices that have been in place since their existence. Shirky contends that tuition has risen steeply due to various factors. One of which is the competition between universities to entice the best and the brightest. This has caused staff sizes and faculty numbers to balloon and lead to the creation of unnecessary facilities and labs: and today’s students are footing the bill.
This past year I was lucky to be involved in the development of video morning announcements at St. Malachy’s Memorial High School. Working collaboratively with the administration, the student council, and the teaching faculty, we were able to find a new format that was effective and engaging for all those involved.
As we embark into the new world of Web 3.0 there are an ever growing number of social media tools at our disposal to access and utilize for educational purposes. There is an increasing amount of literature regarding these human-object relationships and how they are transforming our current culture, and in turn, how that is affecting the new “learning ecology.”