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What We Learned Technology Cannot Do

Since April 1st:

Over 2,000 active Google Classrooms

Over 70,000 zoom meetings

Over 100,000 FreshGrade comments

To say that the educators of SD23 rose to the challenge in a big way following the pandemic would be a gross understatement. The stories our Learning Technology Department can share of educators looking for innovative solutions to build community, connect with families, and integrate remote learning opportunities in novel ways are numerous. While the data shared above and the countless stories of innovation are nothing short of extraordinary, there is a powerful silver lining you might not expect to hear shared from the Learning Technology Department: this has taught us just what technology cannot do and how valuable our face-to-face time is with our students.

Innovative doc camera set-up created by Maggie Ringguth @ NGE

We often refer to ourselves as the ‘un-tech’ department because we so strongly believe the role of technology is to amplify learning and not the other way around. With the ever changing devices, smart technologies, and apps at our fingertips it is easy to get lost in the allure of technology. During April and May, there is no doubt that the resourcefulness and determination of educators paired with technology was the glue that helped not only offer learning to continue but kept our communities connected. At the tail end of May, as we transitioned into stage 3 as a province, our world was shaken one more time with the challenge of delivering learning in a hybrid model. The question that I heard asked, almost immediately and unanimously, is a question that is likely worth continuing to ask ourselves regardless of what stage we may be in over the months and years to come:

“What is the best use of our face-to-face time with our students?”

This time that had once been so innate to our system became a scarce resource that was altogether taken away. Sure we could build community and wellness via Zoom, sure students could share and reflect on learning via learning platforms like Google Classroom or FreshGrade, but something seemed to be missing…

This reflection on what was missing and how learning might be designed at school and at home is a question that was no doubt different for every educator. There are examples of educators who moved their in-class learning almost exclusively outside, educators who wanted students to ask questions and explore their passions over and above the curriculum, and educators who worked tirelessly to connect those in their community at home to the rich learning in the classroom.

As we make our way to the end of the school year we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to support the educators across SD23 and proud how our district’s use of technology to support learning has grown exponentially over the past few months. As you rest, reflect, and puzzle over what was, and what the next school year will offer, know that we are doing the same thing. Our journey is currently focused around the questions posed above around making the most of our face-to-face time and designing a hybrid learning environment that is student-centred, intentional, and nimble. If you are interested in joining us in this journey please consider signing up for our ‘Designing Hybrid Learning’ self-paced professional learning opportunity where we can reflect, imagine, and collaborate together to take the strength we have finished with this year and start the next year even stronger.

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