The Context

Sir Ken Robinson (2010) states in his discussion about schools failing to foster creativity while reforming systems of education, “the problem is they are trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past. And on the way they are alienating millions of kids who don’t see any purpose in going to school”.

At play here is an issue greater than professional practice or preference. Many of our publicly funded K–12 Ontario classrooms have become static learning spaces and are slow to keep up with modern advances in the physical and virtual worlds where students are interacting outside of the classroom. Information communication technologies are developing and permeating our society at a rapid pace, quicker than our publicly funded K–12 Ontario teachers and schools can keep up with. If our students are developing with technology at this pace as well, so must our institutions and practices.

The Shift

Many schools are now, more than ever, disconnected from the realities of their students and are thus continuing to become disengaging one-dimensional gathering places for our learners. By focusing on #ShiftingGears, we have the ability to promote learning spaces that shift from the physical realm to the virtual – those which promote the development of communicative, collaborative and creative skills for the 21st century. There is a need to integrate and combine both physical and virtual spaces in a blended learning configuration, which challenges those practices rooted in conventional pedagogical designs. These practices have become dated and only minimally facilitate engaging, inspiring and meaningful learning experiences.

Shifting Gears refers to taking new steps, making changes and innovating beyond the conventional. These shifts may be small or large, but either way inspire change related to the ways and spaces in which we teach and learn.

Reflective of this shift is C21 Canada. C21 Canada: Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation is a national, not-for-profit organization that advocates for 21st century models of learning in education. Their third blog “highlights the systemic changes required to position Canada’s education systems for 21st century models of learning”, culminating with the sharing of “Shifting Minds 3.0: A 21st Century Vision of Public Education for Canada“. Learn more by visiting the links embedded above.

Our shifts vary, but the steps we take converge along a journey of change – steady and accelerated progression towards exploration and discovery.

Joseph Romano (@romanoj) is an #ICT Educator at the Toronto District School Board (@TDSB), researcher of Virtual World Pedagogy (#VWP), Blogger at Classpace (@Classpace), Educational Technology Consultant at MindShare Learning (@MindShareLearn) & an Educational Technology Advisor at MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD).

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