School District No. 54 – Bulkley Valley (SD54) is trying to make sure technology use in schools is beneficial to students not detrimental.
At their November meeting SD54 board members heard from teachers Sandra McAulay of Walnut Park Elementary School and Scott Richmond of Houston Secondary School about the district’s current information technology strategy.
The teachers began by emphasizing the district’s goal regarding technology: to facilitate, encourage and support the use of tech while adhering to SD54’s guiding principles.
Part of that is helping to make sure teachers and students alike have the correct tech tools in their classes to ensure success for students who learn in a number of different ways.
I think it’s important to interrogate our reasons for using tech but also to see the potential possibilities that they do really enhance what we do,” said Richmond.
“A lot of times teachers aren’t aware of what’s out there because the day-to-day grind of the classroom is tough and it’s hard to really get out there and see what’s going on.”
McAulay also stressed the importance of making sure tech is accessible to students who learn in a number of different ways.
“Tech can really be helpful to make sure that it’s a levelling ground that all students in the class can have access to,” she said. “I’m always thinking how is this technology or what am I doing and what can I do to make sure that every student can access this and they can demonstrate their learning in multiple ways.”
McAulay added she felt the district is doing a very good job with initiatives relating to integrating technology into the classroom and making sure it’s used in a way that’s conducive to student success.
The team also works with teachers to try and help them navigate the Province’s Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies (ADST) curriculum.
McAulay gave the example of some assistance she provided to a Grade 1 class last year.
“Some of the things we do is help co-plan and co-teach with them so they might say to me for example … I want to do this series of, like, scratch coding with the kids in my class so we plan that and then I come in.”
Last year McAulay and Richmond also put on a workshop to show off the ADST kits the district has to elementary teachers in SD54.
“We did some unplugged kind of design thinkng activities and it was very well received,” she said.
“It’s not about Scott or I coming in and doing that for you, it’s about teaching teachers so that they feel comfortable doing that themselves.”
The team also noted the strong presence of tech in the district.
For example, there are 700 iPads across SD54.
After the presentation, SD54 trustee Floyd Krishan asked a question about technology fear among teachers within the district.
“Do you find the technology fear dissipating and how are you getting it to go away?” he asked.
Richmond said he still sees the fear but that it’s getting better.
“I think it’s there, to be truthful — until you sort of confront it or try it and play around with it it’s there,” he said. “That’s part of what we would like to see, is more people play with it and get comfortable with it. The challenge is time. It does take some time to sit down and learn a platform so it’s there for sure.”
McAulay said teaching an old educator new tricks is a no-brainer.
“One of my lines is if I can learn this, you can learn this.”