Annapolis Valley Regional School Board
121 Orchard St. PO Box 340
Berwick, Nova Scotia, Canada, B0P 1E0
Toll Free: 1-800-850-3887
If we consider the timeline of technological development, the Internet is a relatively new development. In fact, AVRSB schools were the first in the Province to be connected in 1998. At the time this meant that all schools had a dedicated connection for the 800 computers in our schools for access to e-mail and the ‘World Wide Web’. Computers, costing $2500, had far less capacity than an iPod and relied mostly on the software installed within.
In the decade that followed, we saw a rapid transformation in the use of the Internet and computing devices. Internet connections are wireless and not locked to terminals. Our schools have thousands of computers, from traditional desktops to netbooks and tablets. Computers come in all shapes and sizes, and many of our students carry personal handheld devices. The Internet transformed from a content provider to a place where users can publish content and manage communication networks. Software and file storage are not locked to a single device, as we manage various devices that all link to a solitary system that becomes our personalized digital library and communication hub.
To put it simply, a Primary student that witnessed AVRSB connect in 1998 has now graduated into a digital world that demands a new awareness and set of skills never imagined at the turn of the century.
This rapid transformation in society has put considerable pressure on the education system to cope. We have a responsibility to cover our curriculum, but we also have to adapt to the digital tools that were not even invented when the curriculum was published. We have a generation of students that have unprecedented access to publish digital content, but are unsure of the conventions. We have traditional discipline issue amplified via instantaneous communication tools and social networking. We are bombarded by media content and struggle to make sense of information and form deeper understanding and relationships.
The intention of AVRSB@21C is not to provide concrete answers and resources that will solve all these issues. Rather, it is a foundation where we take a collective breath and figure out:
· What are the roles and responsibilities of students, staff, and parents in a digital world?
· How to we make meaningful connections to the curriculum and the tools that students use?
· How do we manage the issues that develop from a connected school?
These questions arise from basic notion that we need to prepare our students for the 21st Century, despite the fact that we are more than a decade into it.
The issues that we are already facing in our schools are representive of the larger societal issues that come from a connected population that has no formal direction in how we deal with them. The line between home and school has disappeared in the virtual realm, as 24/7 access to communication and learning resources means students can access school resources and affect the school environment through their actions. While the time students spend at school is not a complete picture of their lives and education, people are increasingly looking to schools to help provide answers as to where we are heading in a digital world.
In the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, we are attempting to answer some of the questions and provide a basic direction as to where we are heading. There is a recognition that students will need to use digital tools in a connected world. We need to address the issues that arise, but also see the possibilities and encourage innovated approaches in the classroom.
As part of the AVRSB@21C Framework, the focus is to balance access to digital resources with our responsibility to provide a safe learning environment. The framework is divided into the following areas:
2) Creativity and Innovation
3) Digital Literacy
4) Digital Citizenship
The next step is to explore these concepts and understand how they fit into our existing education system and how can we support curriculum and instructional strategies in our schools.