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Learning and Technology: Connecting with Educators through Professional Development

Mrs. Oliveira and Mrs. Murgatroyd recently participated in Canada Connects: Canada’s Learning and Technology Conference. With over 1000 participants, the Niagara Falls Conference Centre was teeming with notable educators from across the country – all sharing the same commitment to developing their understanding of technology and education for the betterment of their classroom, school, or Board. As educators, we recognize the importance of life-long learning, and maintain a commitment to learning throughout our professional careers.  We strive to better our own knowledge and skills with the intent that, ultimately, we are enriching the learning experiences of our students.

We are provided many opportunities at Richland for professional development, and felt a conference on learning and technology would help us gain a deeper understanding about the use of social media in an educational setting and meet one of our strategic objectives:  connecting our community digitally, and providing Richland students with skills necessary to thrive in a digital landscape.  Our progressive thinking ensures we recognize the 21st Century skills and dispositions our students will require for success, such as collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.  At the onset, we thought the conference would inform us on the latest technology – the best tablet for the classroom, or the best apps for integrating technology into the curriculum.  In fact, our learning was profoundly different.

We had the opportunity to meet and speak with leaders in the field of education and technology.  Many who we follow and respect from a distance, including Alec Couros, George Couros, Kathy Cassidy, Dave Cormier, and Chris Kennedy.  Although we were part of numerous presentations by leaders from across Canada, and around the world (from as far as Australia), there was a consistency to the message:  do not focus on the devices, but on what the devices enable us to do. Technology allows us to reach beyond the classroom walls, beyond the school walls, and beyond our geographical limitations. Technology provides us all with an opportunity to connect and build relationships with others in a meaningful way. This was brought to light through a recent Inquiring Minds blog post from one of Richland’s grade 5 students. This student wrote a review of a Silver Birch nominated book, which was posted through this blog and linked through Richland’s social media sites. The author saw the post and commented.  What ensued was an authentic conversation between student and author – and what motivates them as writers!  Powerful learning made possible through technology and social media.

Thinking Deeply – Powerful Reflections from Grade 5

We recognize that the world for our students is rapidly changing, and we are committed to providing them with the digital literacy skills necessary to thrive.  From opportunities to learn code, to classroom tablets, to online ethics and expectations, to personal blogs as portfolios, we will enable our students to navigate the digital landscape with confidence and a commitment to excellence, with an understanding of challenges and possibilities that lie within.

We recognize as educators, that we must model for our students, and remain committed to using technology and social media for effective communication, and to develop meaningful relationships and form professional learning networks.  Marshall McLuhan said it best:

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” – Marshall McLuhan

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