A Vision for Learning & Teaching in A Digital Age

OPSBA’s paper A Vision for Learning and Teaching in a Digital Age – the follow-up to our “What If” document – was launched in February 2013. The document is a collaboration of OPSBA trustees from our Education Program Work Team and many committed staff from a broad range of school boards in the province. Trustee leadership was provided by Loralea Carruthers and Marty Fairbairn.

Many of Ontario’s public schools harness information technology as a tool for expanding learning opportunities and supporting student engagement. What we are missing in Ontario is a provincial vision that can drive learning and teaching technology and ensure it is integrated into the learning experience in ways that will offer our students the best possible education in this digital age. Ontario is behind other jurisdictions in articulating this kind of leadership and it is time to move.

The growth of electronic books and online learning is pushing the central role of technology in teaching and learning up the agenda for the public school system.  The cost of laptop computers is decreasing significantly with each passing year.  Many educators are underscoring the flexibility of e-textbooks – they allow for electronic bookmarking and highlighting, keyword searches, links to Web resources related to the topic, and ways for teachers to customize the information for their class.  Digital textbooks can be updated quickly, e.g. Canadian history e-textbooks can include information on the current government. There is also the scope for savings when schools no longer have to deal with damaged, lost or out of date textbooks.  Counterbalancing this are issues around the readiness of the education publishing industry to respond to these technological advances, the capacity of the school system to provide the hardware and software as well as maintain and update it, and, the readiness of teaching staff to incorporate the technology into their professional practice.                   

Desired Outcome:

Identification of the issues affecting the use of technology in learning and teaching including the widespread use of e-textbooks and the development of strategies to increase the preparedness of the school system to embrace advances in technology.

See also OPSBA’s 2009 Discussion Paper What If? Technology in the 21st Century Classroom