Week 3 [Mon Jan 23 BLENDED] System Change: Transforming Learning in Ontario (IBL Pilot Project)

The TLE and “A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning” texts connect well with my personal views of education, culture and the shift in learning through technological innovation and transformation. I agree that there needs to be a shift in how we view education and learning in the classroom: “True innovation in education will only happen when a new structure is created: one that nurtures critical thinkers, supports risk-takers, and encourages ongoing transformation and that places a high value on creative and insightful learning/teaching in classrooms.” (Malloy 2014, p.5). However, I had a few concerns while reading the TLE model. It seems that to engage in blended learning – engaging in this new innovative technology, the learner has to be self-directed and motivated to go online, participate in that day’s instruction, and then complete an assignment/learning task. How will teachers and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board ensure that students are engaged and self-directed? How will the school district empower students to drive the learning environment? What encourages the inquiry from students? How will students take ownership for their learning? I find I had trouble gauging how the technology is actually being used and implemented as a pedagogical tool.

With a change in pedagogy for IBL, there also comes a shift in power and agency from being mainly the teacher helping facilitate learning through instruction, to the students developing their own questions, ideas and observations. While ideally I’d like to promote and facilitate critical thinking and students taking ownership for their own learning, I ask the following questions: how can we as educators ensure that students are developing quality ideas for deep learning?
Another concern I have is how as educators, we can ensure that students are ready for a heavily IBL environment in classrooms and at which level? Students at younger ages (primary/junior, and even in some cases, senior) grades most likely do not have a learning toolbox developed enough to ascertain exactly what it is that is of value in terms of critical thinking and learning. Perhaps new technological pedagogical tools will have to account for the varying levels of teacher agency in the classroom, and how much of the responsibility they’ll have to take on for inquiries. Technology, in my opinion, can be used as a way to develop students’ learning and introduce them to the idea of deep learning, however, I am not fully convinced yet that the role of the teacher can mostly be replaced by a student-centered approach at younger levels.
To relate to last week’s readings, I thought about the idea of the digital tree — it doesn’t exist unless someone is reading or writing about said tree and is actively engaging with it. How do we, as educators, ensure that students are engaging with this digital tree if we are not directly in charge of guiding learning in the classroom?

The following quote resonates with how I feel about my personal pedagogy and the importance of students gaining the, “competencies and dispositions that will prepare them to be creative, connected, and collaborative life-long problem solvers and to be healthy, holistic human beings who not only contribute to but also create the common good in today’s knowledge-based, creative, interdependent world” (2). I don’t believe that technology speeds up learning, but I do believe that it can be used as a tool to achieve deep learning through understanding and then extending ideas beyond the walls of the school and classroom. Further areas of inquiry for teachers would be to address how this new pedagogical approach would impact curriculum documents, learning and teaching design, and assessment.

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