Digital Learning Strategy
Many efforts utilizing technology to support improved learning and instruction have been implemented and are expanding in classrooms across the WRDSB. These include many different digital tools and blended and online learning approaches that are utilized in classrooms and schools across the system.
The Ministry of Education supports the work in school boards to promote digital learning tools and technology as an enabler in meeting the Provincial priorities of high levels of achievement, reductions in the achievement gap and increased confidence in public education.
The WRDSB is committed to improving learning and instruction, enabled through the use of existing and emerging technologies. This work, while encouraging and exciting, has often reflected the following characteristics:
- series of disconnected innovations or individual/site exclusive efforts.
- variety of approaches, philosophies, demands, language and needs.
- limited understanding or focus on issues such as system wide coherence, sustainability, access by all, integration, scalability, change and effectiveness
The WRDSB Digital Learning Strategy is intended as a systemic approach to improve learning and instruction, particularly as it relates to the enabling power of technology. The WRDSB Digital Learning Strategy involves system thinking and learning with a focus on a few projects to examine and better understand the change process and the conditions for improved learning and instruction. This is intended to assist by improving conditions and processes so that more staff can better utilize technology to improve learning and instruction and achieve the overall BIPSA goal of optimizing learning and achievement for all students.
One project that is part of the emerging WRDSB Digital Learning Strategy that has provided insights into change and improved instruction and learning is the Futures Forum Project. The Futures Forum Project (FFP) is a Grade 10, inquiry-based, and technology-supported integrated curriculum (English, Civics, Careers) in secondary schools across the WRDSB. It serves as one exemplar that is helping the WRDSB learn about and improve the implementation of individual, school and system efforts and initiatives. Knowledge, experience and learning gleaned from developing and expanding the FFP, and other Digital Learning Strategy projects, is helping convert principles in the BIPSA into system wide approaches, including procedures, protocols and programs that will assist all staff to improve learning and instruction.
Following, are four initiatives that currently serve as one focus in the WRDSB Digital Learning Strategy. These are identified as:
- Apps4Learning (junior and senior division focus)
- FFP and Grade 9 and 11 English Digital Learning Projects (intermediate and senior division focus)
- Integrated Inquiry Project (primary and junior division focus)
- Special Education Digital Learning Project (junior and intermediate division focus)
These projects represent a diversity of staff, students, circumstances, needs and considerations. They offer an explicit focus while building on the skill, commitment, resources, and deep knowledge of the educators involved in these projects. In addition, they reflect similar profiles, needs and challenges associated with other efforts and initiatives in classrooms, schools and across the system. Collectively, these initiatives provide an opportunity to understand and apply approaches that support system wide improvement of practices whether these are initiated within an individual classroom by a single educator, across a division/department, in multiple schools or system wide.
As stated earlier, the Digital Learning Strategy is intended to support, align, converge with and help achieve the goal of the BIPSA. The BIPSA provides direction and access for district staff and stakeholders to better understand, articulate and achieve the goals, values, vision, strategic directions, system expectation, areas of focus and operational mindset (learning cycle) for the system in an effort to optimize learning and achievement for all students. The focus on learning in the Digital Learning Strategy initiatives, identified above, assist the WRDSB to shift the BIPSA from a strategic framework to a pragmatic and comprehensive guide to support improved learning and instruction for students, staff and community.