OTRK12 Reflections

The month’s On the Rise K12 conference was very worthwhile.  I was impressed with the level of learning, sharing and reflecting. Some of my highlights included:

There was a notable energy during the event which continued right through to the last session.  I attended an identifying barriers and moving forward session. It was quite interesting to listen to the various challenges raised:

    • great admin support, but teachers are resisting change
    • wonderful grass roots energy to change, need more admin support
    • interest and participation in blended learning is growing but bandwidth capacity is an issue
    • need more wifi coverage

All in all, it was a great passionate discussion  by caring educators.  Upon reflection, the things that really resonated with me were:

    • it is critical to continue investment into bandwidth (internal and internet) and stay ahead of the need
    • I believe leveraging access by including BYOD as part of the mix is important
    • the grass roots up/top down needs to become a planned path with expectations and annual goals
    • continue to focus solving problems and sharing solutions

There are 2 more critical pieces to the puzzle in my mind. There are a wealth of teachers who already use many web 2.0 and social media tools as part of their instructional practice in curriculum delivery. I seems to me, a plan is needed to bring this body of ‘casual’ blended learning into the D2L portal used by the Ministry of Education. Part of this plan would address the need for an easy path to connect existing resources used in the casual approach into D2L – a transition, not a do over for teachers.  Secondly, the D2L environment needs to be “lego like”  — easy to snap outside resources into the portal and minimizing the need for custom interfaces or complicated conversions.

Related Resources 

Conference Twitter chat stream
Presentation: The Traditional Classroom by Diana Hughes
Reflections from Donna Fry
Colleen Rose’s Reflection
OTRK12 Part 1 by Ferdinand Krauss
OTRK12 Part 2 by Ferdinand Krauss
Reflections from Brandon Grasley
Conference Site

I look forward to attending next year’s event.


SAMR and Seniors

My daughter Stephanie, is in the final stage of  completing her therapeutic recreation program at Brock University.  While she was home this weekend with her boyfriend Brandon,  she was sharing about her experiences volunteering in agencies as part of her program requirements.  As I was listening to her talk, I couldn’t help but think about what role technology might play in changing the possibilities for these people who need support and care.

I explained the concept of the SAMR model in the K-12 education framework. The real “win” is achieving the redefinition stage to improve learning and engagement, but certainly one can not estimate the learning and value of moving through the first three stages.


The three of us spent a fair bit of time wondering what would impact on seniors care be if we applied the SAMR model to leverage technology?  Is seems on the surface there is little to no technology available in these care facilities.  Tablets and touch screen interfaces greatly simplify the use of technology and could be a real game changer.

Some of the possibilities we discussed included:

  • increase connections with family using tools such as skype or Facetime
  • pondering the value of increased visual connections
  • increased mental stimulation: simple/appropriate games (self play and/or interactive, e.g. word games/puzzles such as scrabble)
  • improved access to online content – one way (read only)
  • stimulation from interactive content
  • idea exchange (text chat spaces for examples)
  • planning for face to face (F2F) activities (crafts, debates etc.)

Some how the possibilities seemed invigorating and obtainable. It may be about shift, just like in the K-12 education space.  It was a great discussion about making a difference through change.

Just wondering …


WRDSB Futures Forum Program Wins Award

Celebrating an Amazing Journey

Five years ago, a small group of WRDSB staff (Mary Lou Mackie, Mark Harper, Kim Keena,  Jim Woolley and I )  began meeting with local community business leaders who were members of Communitech to discuss the classroom of the future.  Although no specific classroom design was agreed upon, general conclusions centred around what is now thought of as the key C’s: communication, collaboration, creativity  and critical thinking.

Discussions continued with students, and then the WRDSB team enrolled as team in a Powerful Learning Practice cohort to continue our learning and thinking about the possibilities. Bill Lemon, Harry Niezen and Ken Whytock served as the lead implementation to look at needs in the areas of  curriculum, assessment, technology, staff training etc.  The results of the implementation team are captured in this blog post.

Since the Futures Forum program has gone live, there have been continued successes and gradual expansion of this program. Now, in 2013, the program is running in all secondary schools, with multiple classes timetabled in each school.  The approach has had spin off benefits such as the Innovate program at Forest Heights C.I.  Research gathered to date has shown that this approach to learning is producing results that are statistically  significant.

The Futures Forum project was recently recognized  for innovation by Solution Tree.  I wanted to publicly congratulate all the central staff, school administrators and teachers that have been a part of bringing this vision to life.

Additional Information

Solution Tree Photo

Futures Forum video

Official WRDSB announcement