As I mentioned in the previous entry, today I am attending the CANeLearn 2014: Ontario Summer Summit here in Toronto, which is thematically entitled “Blended and Online Learning in Canada: State of the Nation.” I’m continuing to blog the sessions. So the second session was described as:
Panel Discussion – Emerging Trends in K-12 Blended and Online Learning: A Pan-Canadian View
Join in a lively discussion on State of the Nation of Blended and Online Learning across Canada as panelists engage directly with delegates and wrestle with finding successful strategies to support blended and online learning approaches in classroom and school programs across the country. Provide direct input into how the Canadian eLearning Network (http://CANeLearn.net), a pan-Canadian national organization, can help support your efforts in your own classroom, school, program, region, and province.
Check out the latest information from the State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada publication and report prior to joining in with the panel (http://www.openschool.bc.ca/pdfs/state_of_nation-2013.pdf).
- Panelists will provide brief opening remarks of 3-5 minutes on emerging trends in their programs.
- Moderators will invite questions and comments from the audience. Please keep your remarks brief. If you can’t say it in under a minute, folks will likely tune you out.
- We will curate the conversation on the back channel (Twitter hashtag #canelearn) and bring it into the live discussion (BYOD).
- Panelists may also ask questions of the audience.
- Audience members may add to the discussion with their own successes, issues, and insights.
The session is not intended to be a panel of experts presenting their ideas with a chance for audience questions. It is a planned and structured dialogue. Much of which will flow to the afternoon workshop session for further discussion, and to foyer and lunchtime conversations that are a key part of this networking event.
Tuesday’s panel dialogue is an opportunity to try to make Blended and Online Learning “real” and share openly the risks, challenges, and problems associated with developing flexible learning practices in a manner that augments good teaching, fosters greater learning, and leverages today’s tools for tomorrow’s leaders.
Tuesday’s keynote and panel are intended to inform our emerging national network and help us to leverage a national voice to support our work in our provinces, regions, schools and classrooms.
The panelists included:
- Howard Burston (Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate) – Manitoba
- Greg Bitgood (Heritage Christian Online Schools) – British Columbia
- Michael Canuel (Learn) – Quebec
- Terri Reid (Black Gold Regional Schools) – Alberta
- Steve Wynen (Upper Grand District School Board) – Ontario
- Shannon Jennings (Grand Erie District School Board) – Ontario
- Sue Taylor-Foley (Nova Scotia Virtual School) – Nova Scotia
- Howard Griffiths (Department of Education) – Manitoba
The session began with a 3-5 minute introduction and background to each of the individuals, their programs, and the challenges they are facing in their own jurisdictions. I didn’t take notes from each, but you can go and look at each of the programs following the links above.
After the introductions, we had some of questions from the audience. The first focused on measuring the effectiveness of K-12 online learning – both in terms of success/completion and retention. I use the term success/completion because most of the panelists that did respond defined success rate the same as completion rate – and a completion was considered a passing grade.
This transitioned to a question/discussion about the under-representation of learning disabled students in K-12 online learning and the fact that many of the non-completers or non-retainers are likely these kinds of students, the question focused more on what programs are doing to address the needs of these students. This naturally led into some of the specific supports that online programs are providing, with several of the panelists indicating things that they do with their individual populations. This also occurred at the same time a brief discussion about “best practices” occurred on Twitter – to which I contributed that the idea of best practices were a myth, as education is so individual and contextual (and I think that the variety of approaches each of the panelists described to supporting students speaks to this notion that there aren’t a specific set of “best practices”).