Tag Archives: Futures Forum

Changing Practice with GAFE

Using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) offers many opportunities to develop new ways to approach curriculum delivery, instructional design, providing feedback, assessment … well, you get the picture – OPPORTUNITY!

At 2:30 p.m. EDT (today, October 17th, 2015)  Andrew Bieronski  and I team up to deliver a session at the  Ottawa GAFE Summit  to dig into this topic from a WRDSB perspective.

If you would like to join us remotely, we will be sharing our session via  @Livestream  (free account needed to view)
Note: the stream will be activated approximately 15 minutes before the session.

Slide Deck:

Video recording of our presentation:


Celebrating Future-Ready at WRDSB

I have been a longtime believer in a self directed job embedded approach to staff development.  For several years I have had the privilege of working with a dedicated team in IT Services  at the Waterloo Region District School Board to design and deliver staff development programs fitting this ideal.

Last fall I participated in the 2013 Connected Educator Month activities which included an opportunity to complete an interview and submit documentation about our CATC Camp and CATC connections programs along with information about the WRDSB Futures Forum Program.


I am honoured and thrilled that  our WRDSB submission been selected  as a part of the Future Ready program as an international case study and is published on the US government Tech Ed website as a one of six case studies selected.


A special announcement was shared with over 12,000 US based school superintendents.

Learn more about the Future Ready program.

The case studies, including our WRDSB submission  are online here.

View the Future Ready professional learning toolkit.

I want to acknowledge the team of Rebecca Rouse, Harry Niezen and recent retirees Ron Millar and Anita Brooks-Kirkland for their insightful and collaborative work with me in on our ITS staff development program.  I also appreciate the on going support and collaborative work of Mary Sue Meredith and Ken Whytock.


CASA13 Presentation Resources

CASA Conference 2013 Presentation Resources

Conference Theme: Theme: Pedagogy to Technology: Hardware to Headwear

Our presentation  : Leveraging the use of Social Media Tools in your School Community — the use of social media tools in the Waterloo Region District School Board as things are now,  the journey and the challenges.

Video Samples from our CASA2013 presentation:

Haley   (Student)
Aaron   (Student)
Andrew  (Student)
Andrew Bieronski  (Teacher)
Kevin Donkers  (Teacher)
Kathi Smith  (Trustee)

additional video resources 

Twitter  (Teacher)
Facebook (Teacher)
Edmodo  (Teacher)
Student Perspective  (Students)
Principal Perspective (Bill Lemon)

Q&A from Today’s Meet backchannel

Information regarding the WRDSB iPad approach

Related Resources

Canadian Association of School Administrators  (CASA)  conference.

WRDSB  Responsible Use Procedure  (RUP)

Social Media Drive By (Blog post)

Quest Radio 1-24  Programming Info  – watch here for announcements regarding additional rebroadcasts of this session.

Join a live broadcast or rebroadcast  on Quest Radio 1-24.

Mark W. Carbone  and  Ed Doadt

~Mark and Ed

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


WRDSB Student Voice

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
What Next:
  • 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.

Resources: Apple Institute Presentation 2012

Presentation slides

From Idea to Reality

From the Field: Educators in Action

Additional Resources

TPACK: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge

The WRDSB Responsible Use Procedure (RUP)

The WRDSB Library Learning Commons


CATC Camp 2012

Each summer, for the past 21 years, the Waterloo Region District School Board has run a 3 day self directed, professional development session focused on technology enabled learning. The event is known as  CATC By the Water. CATC is our acronym for Computers Across the Curriculum. In our Board, CATC is part of the language and culture.

We had a lot of positive feedback on the framework provided to start the day, so I thought I would share a few highlights here.

Framework Overview

Welcome to CATC Camp 2012 and a special welcome to new campers this year. You are in for a great 3 days. What makes this great is that you are in charge of your own learning and we have an awesome facilitator team to support you. I wanted to touch on a few points to provide a framework to help you keep your thinking and learning aligned with Board goals.

  • a new strategic plan will be released in the fall, with technology enabled learning being one of the focuses
  • one aspect of this is a large expansion of the formal Ministry of Education e-learning courses
  • Ministry of Education  blended courses will also be offered
  • the Futures Forum project will be expanded in each secondary school
  • we will embrace online writing projects in grade nine English programs
  • a draft document outlining success steps for a 5 year digital learning plan has been initiated

What do we mean by technology enabled learning? 

  • technology as a natural part of the learning environment (not ‘over there’)
  • usage to support and improve learning, not teaching technology for technology’s sake
  • aligned use of technology with our main suite of products (blogs, wikis, GDocs, FBk, Twitter, YouTube, OSAPAC, Desire2Learn)
  • instructional uses of technology that align with our identified 5 high yield strategies AND communication & collaboration
  • consideration of the 4 any’s: anytime, anywhere, anything, anyone learning
  • student engagement
  • authentic audience
  • consideration of TPack (Technology, Pedagogy and Content) – finding the sweet spot

To this end, the recently passed (June) Board budget included funds for mobile equipment for each school and additional classroom supports. We will establish a plan to address wifi in portables over the next 2 to 3 years, and start to address this need during the 2012/13 school year. Related internet and infrastructure upgrades are under way to support student learning and achievement.

Things for you to consider as you learn:

  • familiarize yourself with the new Responsible Use Procedure (RUP)
  • consider how you will role model ethical use of technology for your students
  • determine how will you promote digital citizenship within your classroom
  • now that we have wifi access in all school instructional areas, how will you leverage this in your classroom?
  • how will you use both desktop and mobile devices available in your school?
  • have you thought about taking advantage of BYOD?

Spend some time pondering possibilities. Thank you for being here. Have a fantastic learning experience.


CDN PLP – Culminating Session

On Friday May 20th we held our culminating day for this year’s PLP  and  Futures Forum session. From my point of view, the day was a wonderful success — an opportunity to passionately share about our learnings, celebrate our collective successes and begin the scaling process by introducing next year’s Futures Forum teachers to the process. I captured much of the morning presentations with my Livescribe pen. I have uploaded many of the recordings and linked to the sections by topic as per the list below.

Futures Forum Course Design

The Power of Blogging

Online Magazine

Civics Mirror


Going Forward

Related Links

Futures Forum PD Wiki
Futures Forum Online Magazine
Twitter Stream #wrdsbffp