Each year, I look forward to opportunities to interact with our WRDSB students and have conversation about technology, learning and Board plans etc. My recent meeting with our student trustee group yielded some fantastic discussion, so I thought I would share a few highlights in this forum.
The trustee group submitted some questions ahead of time to create a framework for our discussion. They were interested to know more about:
- differentiated access to resources
- the need for wifi login
- software licensing
- ITS department projects for this year and Board directions
After addressing their questions, we opened up the floor to additional questions from the student trustees. This lead to a wonderful discussion which brought together a number of interconnected ideas. I was very impressed that students were well aware of the need to manage their privacy online. Through our discussion we extended this to managing one’s online identity and reputation. I encouraged the students to see how ‘Googlable’ they were. Would their online reputation precede them? As a self reflection, do they choose to use social media, communication and collaboration tools for positive purposes? – and what might they change in their typical actions? After all, “the net does not forget”. Digital citizenship is something that must be lived, a way of being. I also took the time to talk about the expectations defined in the WRDSB Responsible Use Procedure.
In the final portion of the meeting, I was given the opportunity to ask the student trustee group questions. I chose to ask one question: Given the changes that have been achieved over the last 4 years ( access to more resources including social media and collaboration tools, wifi in all classrooms, BYOD, improved internet bandwidth etc. ), what has been the impact to their learning?
The students were very frank and open with their responses. I have captured a few highlights in the list below:
- extremely positive feedback on the establishment and expansion of the Futures Forum Project
- learning and engagement is improved through blogging and collaborating online
- like to be able to use their phones in class – looking up information in the context of a discussion is beneficial
- excellent class projects through the use of wikis
- technology affords many forums for peer help
- social media tools keep students connected and focused, engagement is up
- web based teacher resources very helpful (blogs, wikis etc.)
- the 4 any’s: learning anytime, anywhere, anyone and anything
- easier to work and organize electronically, paper just does not work well
- online connections (community) is very beneficial
- use of Facebook groups and web (fan) pages very helpful – easy to connect, collaborate and stay up to date
- the type of environment we have created helps prepare us (students) for post secondary learning
- continue to promote teachers as risk takers with technology
- continue to build more capacity for technology use (reduce fears in using technology)
- encourage teachers to learn from students too
Finally, I was impressed that a number of the students present were aware of the learning strategy of the “flipped classroom”
. My sense is that this approach was seen as beneficial in many learning situations. It was hoped the WRDSB teachers were open to exploring the benefits of this approach.
I extend my thanks to the WRDSB student trustee group for such a great conversation about technology enabled learning. I look forward to my next session with group.