Friday, April 25, 2008

Use of Technology in Learning

Imagine there's a classroom. I wonder if you can. Imagine one teacher teaching in that classroom. Now imagine more classrooms. Imagine one teacher teaching in all those classrooms. How is it possible you say? Simple - videoconferencing. Through the use of technology, many classrooms in Ontario are changing the way we learn. Students are using online learning communities, moodles, blogs, videoconferencing and yes "cell phones" and PDA's to learn.

Teachers often complain of cell phone text messaging use in the classroom. Why can't students learn to turn it off? Why not turn the negative into a positive? Just today, I noticed a student using a cell phone as a calculator to do her math. With internet access through cell phones, the possibilities are endless.

Yesterday I sat in on a videoconference with a famous author. The author, through the use of videoconferencing, was able to "teach" 3 classrooms simultaneously and might I add, successfully. What an idea!!

A York University initiative called ABEL has enabled many schools in Ontario to use technology to teach their courses. Through access to the latest technology, ABEL teachers can create online chats, blogs, moodle and videoconferencing. My own personal experience with ABEL has been very positive. Students can log onto the moodle with their passwords and see what they have to do this week. They love it!

Use of technology in classrooms can be viewed negatively by some, however, this is a case where the positive outweighs the negative. Technology is here to stay. Why not harness its prowess?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Public vs. Private education

Many (affluent) parents often consider sending their kids to private school. Here in Ontario, there are many private schools to consider (albeit very expensive alternatives) to public schools. Private schools offer lower class sizes and more individualized teacher time. Public schools often are overlooked for their effectiveness in teaching. In my opinion, in Ontario, the public school system offers a superior level of education compared to private schools in Ontario.

Firstly, lets look at what both school systems are based on. Both purport using the Ontario curriculum to deliver information. In fact, teacher training within the public system on the approaches to curriculum is far superior to teacher training within the private realm. In fact, the purpose of a board of education is just that: To facilitate professional development among its teachers which most boards in Ontario do very effectively.

Secondly, public school teachers in Ontario are some of the highest paid teachers in the world. Private schools (largely) do not have similar pay (or benefits or pension) as public schools. Although some do try to match pay, they fall short of offering job security. Private schools offer their teachers an annual renewable contract whereas public school teachers contract are essentially "for life". If you were a teacher, which type of school would attract you? In most cases, the most highly trained teachers teach in the public school system. Public schools mimic, for the most part, societies. Private schools tend to show a more elitist approach to education and therefore do not prepare students adequately for the "real world". Students and teachers of private schools are oblivious to members of the society who "fall" beneath them. Terms such as ADD, Aspergers, LD are foreign to many teachers in the private realm. To conclude, therefore, a public education in Ontario, by far, is the most effective form of education for our kids. Hip, Hip Hooray for Public Education!