School district to host discussions on future of education

  • Mar. 30, 2011 11:00 a.m.

For many years, education was about mastering bits of information, like how many moons rotate around the planet Jupiter, or the names of the elements in the periodic table. But technology and the internet are changing things fast. Today, students don’t need to memorize how many moons Jupiter has – they can look it up on wikipedia in about six seconds. How does this change teaching and learning? Should students be connected to the internet at all times while in school? Will schools need textbooks in the future, or could students use iPads instead? These are some of the questions school district superintendent Angus Wilson is hoping to discuss at two presentations March 31 (in Queen Charlotte) and April 5 (in Masset) about the future of education. Mr. Wilson said the evenings will start with a presentation about how society has changed and the meaning of new terms like “personalized learning”, and then he’s hoping to hear islanders’ opinions about how school and education should function in the future. “I’m just trying to get feedback about what works for Haida Gwaii,” he said. Mr. Wilson said the provincial Ministry of Education is interested in making changes to the school system to accommodate the wide range of options that new technology provides. He will be sending the results of these discussions on the islands to the Ministry. Districts across BC are undertaking similar discussions, although in different ways. In Smithers, the school district held a formal presentation attended by about 100 people. M.r Wilson expects the sessions here to be “a bit more folksy”. In some ways, this district is ahead of the curve when it comes to using technology, he added. For example, the local high schools use a program called “Moodle” that allows students to take a wide variety of courses over the internet that previously couldn’t be offered here, like Law 12 or Physics 12. The experience of taking Law 12 over a computer is not be the same as taking it in a class full of students, where mock trials can be organized – but most students would likely agree that it’s better than not having it all, Mr. Wilson said. The discussions are open to everyone and Mr. Wilson is hoping to hear from lots of islanders, especially those who are in school right now. “I would like to hear from the whole spectrum,” he said. “I would really like to have parents, elders, and who I would really like to see is students.” The sessions will be held tonight, March 31 at Queen Charlotte Secondary, and again on Tuesday, April 5 at G.M. Dawson Secondary. Both sessions start at 7 pm.