Virtual School Meanderings

April 19, 2018

BC DL Conference – Issues in Distributed Learning

The seventh session that I am blogging from the 2018 BC Digital Learning Conference is:

Issues in Distributed Learning

Join in an open discussion about issues facing distributed learning schools in BC.  Topics suggested for discussion include:

  • Student “grade shopping”
  • in loco parentis at a distance
  • Blending programs
  • Learning management systems – pros/cons, provincial alignment?

Ask your own questions for discussion. Add your questions/comments to the shared Google doc here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dXjbwVhZbLsIhLyphhxhpp7DBymFAuOjbC3Dj3VeV7o/edit?usp=sharing


Moderators

avatar for Colleen Mullin

Colleen Mullin

Vice-Principal, Cowichan Valley Open Learning
I am a lifelong high school Chemistry/Science teacher who has been gifted the role of administration of alternative education and distributed learning programs in recent years. I started my career in Kashechewan Ontario, then worked 12 amazing years in Fort Saint James BC and the… Read More → 

Unlike other sessions I have attended, this was less of a presentation and more of a group therapy session around issues in DL and blended learning.

Also unlike the other session, there was a note taker in the Google Doc for this session (which would essentially replace my notes on the session), so take a look at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dXjbwVhZbLsIhLyphhxhpp7DBymFAuOjbC3Dj3VeV7o/edit?usp=sharing

BC DL Conference – Designing Online Learning Opportunities in Elementary Grades

The sixth session that I am blogging from the 2018 BC Digital Learning Conference is:

Designing Online Learning Opportunities in Elementary Grades

Engaging upper elementary students through inquiry-based online learning opportunities creates unique challenges and opportunities. HCOS took the chance to build new online Science and Math courses for grades 5-7 this past year. Challenges came in how to scaffold instruction and provide adequate support to these younger distance learners. Come hear about what we learned through the experience of designing and implementing online courses for elementary learners.

Ask your own questions for the presenter. Add your questions/comments to the shared Google doc here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x3DSxUGXyIDbTSeeDuMlqFFOa0yoQIo_DSpECqg0Jmc/edit?usp=sharing


Speakers

avatar for Sara Kraushar

Sara Kraushar

Academic Head of School, Heritage Christian Online School
Sara Kraushar is the Academic Head of School for Heritage Christian Online School, based in Kelowna, BC. Previously Sara has worked with HCOS as a teacher, curriculum writer, Regional Administrator, and Curriculum & Instruction Leader. Her educational experience also includes tim… Read More →

Sara began the session by providing some background into the Heritage Christian Online School and, in particular, the elementary portion of their program.  She transitioned to the nature and make up of the design team that are responsible for creating their online courses.

When teachers are in front of kids, they engage at a child’s level.  However, often times in an online environment we forget the audience that the courses are intended for.

Sara provided a lot of our tidbits, using samples from their own classes (which are designed for learners are low as grade five).  For example, exemplars – particular those created by students themselves – are really useful for students.  Or providing weekly guides for parents and ensuring that they understand how to log into the system and check on their children’s progress – basically ways to create a partnership between the online school and parents.

Following these tidbits and tips, Sara took questions from the group.

BC DL Conference – Ask an Expert: Online Learning Research Updates

The fifth session that I am blogging from the 2018 BC Digital Learning Conference is:

Ask an Expert: Online Learning Research Updates

Join this interactive session on emerging trends in online learning in K-12, post-sec, and training in Canada and abroad.  “Ask the experts” your questions before the panel and at the session.

Researchers will engage in an active Q/A dialogue about emerging trends and insights curated from online learning research.

Post your questions here for the research panel to address:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ww5fodx-RN4LhXQzmGDWs7DBgC4gJ1_NLDHFKbP22dg/edit?usp=sharing


Moderators

avatar for Paul Lachance

Paul Lachance

Direction adjointe / Membre du CA, CAVLFO / CANeLearn


Speakers

avatar for Michael Barbour

Michael Barbour

Touro University California
Michael K. Barbour is Associate Professor of Instructional Design for the College of Education and Health Sciences at Touro University, California. He has been involved with K-12 online learning in a variety of countries for two decades as a researcher, teacher, course designer a… Read More →

avatar for Dr. Tony Bates

Dr. Tony Bates

President & CEO, Tony Bates & Associates
Tony Bates is President and CEO of Tony Bates Associates Ltd, a private company specializing in consultancy and training in the planning and management of e-learning and distance education. He is also Distinguished Visiting Professor in the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, Toronto.Tony Bates Associates Ltd was started in 2003, and since then has served over 50 clients in 30 countries. Until recently, he was very much in demand as a conference speaker globally, but on reaching the age of 75 in 2014, he has cut back significantly on public speaking, contract work and long distance travel.Past contracts include work for UNESCO, the World Bank, U.S. state higher education commissions and universities, the U.K. Open University, the Council of Ontario Universities, and for many Canadian colleges and universities, advising on their online learning strategies. He has worked as a consultant in over 40 countries. He has been a Research Associate with… Read More →

As I was one of the presenters in this informal session, let me just add a reminder that there are open notes for this session (and all sessions for that matter).  The open notes from this session are available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ww5fodx-RN4LhXQzmGDWs7DBgC4gJ1_NLDHFKbP22dg/edit?usp=sharing

BC DL Conference – New Models for Learning: Integrating Competency, Inquiry, Curriculum through Flexible Models (Approaches from across Canada)

The fourth session that I am blogging from the 2018 BC Digital Learning Conference is:

New Models for Learning: Integrating Competency, Inquiry, Curriculum through Flexible Models (Approaches from across Canada)

A follow-up dialogue and deeper dive into notions from the Cowichan keynote from a variety of leaders who have implemented innovative programs in similar efforts to create flexible, learner-focused, and inquiry-based programs to address curricular change.

  1. Leaders of other programs from across BC and Canada will share via a short (3-5 minute) ignite presentation an update of critical features of their programs,
  2. A panel dialogue and open discussion will summarize key principles from the change initiatives undertaken by leaders of these programs,
  3. A facilitated discussion exploring how these principles derived from other leaders journey’s can be used to provoke change in your own situation.  The session will provide a showcase, discussion, and facilitated dialogue enabling delegates to build pertinent connections to their own practice.

Programs featured:

  • Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning (SAIL)  a blended interdisciplinary school/district program where personal student learning occurs through inquiry and project-based learning using a variety of digital tools in a multi-aged classroom (elementary) and cohorts (secondary).  Students have the flexibility to advance according to their learning capabilities and are challenged to embrace an innovator’s mindset within a makerspace environment.
  • John Paul II Collegiate  — Winners of the McDowell Foundation Research Project of Year JPII High School in North Battleford, SK transformed their school through blended learning and participation in teacher action research.
  • Navigate Programs — Navigate (NIDES) was created through a shift from a regional, paper-based, “school in a box” to a fully online K-12 platform that supports cutting-edge blended learning programs in more than a dozen communities throughout British Columbia.  Navigate programs were recipients of the iNACOL “Innovative Blended Learning Program” award in 2014, and the CEA “Innovator of the Year” Award in 2016.
  • Heritage Christian Online School — HCOS took the chance to build a new online course design this past year to engage students through inquiry-based online learning.  Challenges came in how to scaffold instruction and provide adequate support for distance learners. 
  • Sun Peaks (SD73) — SD73 uses several models to engage students including video-conferencing, online courses to support DL and classroom instruction, but there is a shift to a Blended Model for the delivery of new curriculum and support for students taking their courses outside of the traditional classroom. @KOOL provides an interactive model to engage students in meaningful learning experiences through the Sun Peaks model. 
  • CAVLFO (Ontario) 

Ask your own questions for the presenter. Add your questions/comments to the shared Google doc here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mdTCy4w0hom0oY6K1-qDnS-5x-p7tGRHwnsQlJRd1Rk/edit?usp=sharing


Moderators

avatar for Randy LaBonte

Randy LaBonte

Canadian eLearning Network
I have been lucky to serve as a senior level executive for over 30 years in the education sector: – lead consultant for seven years at the BC Ministry of Education involved in field work leading to the development of policy, agreements, and e-learning standards; – helped develop… Read More →


Speakers

avatar for Peter Johnston

Peter Johnston

Principal, Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning
Principal Peter Johnston is leading a new public school start-up called Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning, K – 12, in Surrey, B.C. Peter has 23 years educational experience. After four and a half years in the private sector, he returned to his real passion and rejoined SD 3… Read More →

avatar for Sara Kraushar

Sara Kraushar

Academic Head of School, Heritage Christian Online School
Sara Kraushar is the Academic Head of School for Heritage Christian Online School, based in Kelowna, BC. Previously Sara has worked with HCOS as a teacher, curriculum writer, Regional Administrator, and Curriculum & Instruction Leader. Her educational experience also includes tim… Read More →

avatar for Paul Lachance

Paul Lachance

Direction adjointe / Membre du CA, CAVLFO / CANeLearn

Laurel Seafoot

Kamloops Open Online Learning – School District 73
I am the Distributed Learning Coordinator for the Kamloops School District. Working with school aged students from K-12 and with adult learners, I strive to bring more success to students working in the online setting through Kamloops Open Online Learning. I also work with classr… Read More →

avatar for Jeff Stewart

Jeff Stewart

District Principal – Distributed Learning, Navigate/NIDES

Jeff has served as a principal of elementary, middle, and secondary schools and currently works in the fast changing and wacky world of distributed learning in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  For the last seven years, Jeff has led Navigate (NIDES) and negotiated the shift… Read More →

avatar for Ramona Stillar

Ramona Stillar

Projects Coordinator, JPII High School, Light of Christ Catholic School Division
Ramona Stillar is a Projects Coordinator in Light of Christ Catholic School Division. Over her 20 plus years of teaching she has been a French Immersion teacher, consultant, administrator, and coordinator in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

This was an ignite style session, so each of the groups had 3-5 minutes to tell us about the model of their program, and then there was ample time at the end for discussion.

Unfortunately, I got pulled into a meeting regarding some Canadian-wide research with some folks as this session was beginning, so I missed most of the presentation portions.  But please review any notes from the session that were added in the Google Doc at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mdTCy4w0hom0oY6K1-qDnS-5x-p7tGRHwnsQlJRd1Rk/edit?usp=sharing

I did get a chance to here the SAIL presentation (which was the last one), which was a blended learning, district-based school that focused on a project-based learning model.  The terms personal learning and personalized learning were used a fair number of times, without much explanation about what they looked like for students or what that meant.

The first question focused on workloads.  Those that did answer the question, indicated that the student-teacher ratio was consistent (or slightly less or slightly more than the face-to-face teachers, but only slightly).  Although Rod did indicate that he thought that was the wrong question, as he felt that we shouldn’t allocate students/teacher based on modality – and that wasn’t popular in the room (and to be perfectly honest ignores the research that we know about the time/student required to teach based on modality; but is consistent with what a former Ministry person might say).

The second question focused on a comment that Jeff apparently made during his presentation about creating a program that was entrepreneurial, and how that creates a competitive and not a cooperative environment.  Unfortunately, I would have filled out a full card if I had buzzword bingo here based on Jeff’s response – as it was full of all of the neo-liberals buzzwords (e.g., entrepreneurial, innovative, blended, personalized, meeting the needs of students, grassroots, they are driving the bus, out of the box, factory model, take risks, risk averse system, vote with their feet, etc.).  But there wasn’t anything of substance in his response.

Randy then asked a question focused on a comment that someone made about culture eats change (i.e., the culture of schools and school districts prevent change and innovation).  It was a softball question for a group of folks that were all largely selling themselves as change agents (many with that neo-liberal vision).

BC DL Conference – Keynote: Key Elements for Effective Learning Environments

The third session that I am blogging from the 2018 BC Digital Learning Conference is:

Keynote: Key Elements for Effective Learning Environments

How are we connecting students to their community?  To the land?  To each other?  Children entering Kindergarten today will live and work in a world profoundly different.  Students in our schools today need to learn in ways far different from the manner and environment we learned in.  Students are not recipients of learning, they are the actors for tomorrow.

The BC curriculum envisions this need to foster different ways for students to learn and share their knowledge, but how do we transform learning experiences at the school level?  How do we ensure that technology-supported online and distributed learning experiences are profoundly personalized, learner-centric, social and inclusive, highly structured and well designed?  How do we reorganize, reschedule, restructure, and rethink learning?

Join the Cowichan Team as they reflect their story and journey in pursuit of this change.  Learn how the Key Elements for Effective Learning Environments became a driver for their pursuit of inclusive, personal learning for students in the district.  Reflect on how their journey compares with your own as the Cowichan team shares their story.

Add your curated comments here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EEh2-pCOzL139LikfMZNd6S6kkrchEXyupBXfIYahLk/edit?usp=sharing


Speakers

avatar for Rod Allen

Rod Allen

Superintendent of Learning, Cowchan School District 79
Rod is the Superintendent of Learning for the Cowichan Valley School District 79.  Prior to this, he was the Assistant Deputy Minister / Chief Superintendent with the BC Ministry of Education and architect of British Columbia’s transformation to personalized learning. Under Ro… Read More →

avatar for Denise Augustine

Denise Augustine

Director of Aboriginal Education and Learner Engagement, Cowichan School District 79
Denise Augustine (Swee’alt) is a Coast Salish educator with over 20 years experience.  Denise works with children and youth from pre-school through grade 12 in the Cowichan School District. As the director of Aboriginal education and learner engagement, Denise works closely wi… Read More →

avatar for Colleen Mullin

Colleen Mullin

Vice-Principal, Cowichan Valley Open Learning
I am a lifelong high school Chemistry/Science teacher who has been gifted the role of administration of alternative education and distributed learning programs in recent years. I started my career in Kashechewan Ontario, then worked 12 amazing years in Fort Saint James BC and the… Read More →

avatar for Lisa Read

Lisa Read

Technology Coordinator, Cowichan School District 79
As the Information Technology Coordinator for SD79 (Cowichan Valley), Lisa brings 20+ years of K-12 classroom experience to her role in helping teachers integrate technology into their practice. She is also a member of BCERAC’s Professional Learning Team, as served as well Associ… Read More →

Denise began this session with a First Nations perspective on education and learning in general.

Rod them took over the session to provide some context with respect to DL in the Cowichan School District.

Click on the images for larger versions.

Following Rod, Colleen provided some background on the program in the district – which is a K-12 program that is quite diverse (but does have two main groups: classic DL work at home students and students that have special needs not being met in the classroom).  She then had three different videos highlighting three types of students (i.e., one a professional dancer needing to go to school, one who was an autistic child, and a student was being bullied).

Jen then got up to provide a provincial perspective for British Columbia – which was largely an update of the material contained at http://k12sotn.ca/bc/ .  Beyond the provincial data, Jen did provide some data from six random school districts.  Interestingly, students that took only a single DL course had a 70% completion rate.  However, students that took five to six DL courses (over their K-12 careers) had a significantly higher completion rate.  Another interesting data point was that if you use a six year completion cycle, the completion rate among special education DL students is 20% lower than regular DL students, but if that were extended to seven years the completion rates are equal.  Further, the provincial completion rate among aboriginal students is ~58%, but the completion rate among aboriginal learners in the DL context is 66% overall and almost 75% for aboriginal DL students that are taking six or more courses (over their K-12 careers).

Jen then transitioned to the DL review that is underway in the province, which should be reporting out in September 2018.  This review is examining what is happening in BC, as well as lessons that can be learned from Ontario, Alberta, Florida, New South Wales, New Zealand, England, Finland, and Singapore.

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