A few thoughts: RSCON and Learner Management Systems

Some professional learning

It's been a few weeks. (Not that I haven't thought of topics to blog about.) In fact, I've had some exciting professional growth opportunities of late. I've just started my Guidance Part 1 - my first face-to-face Additional Qualifications course in a few years. Yup, guidance. Great for rounding out my understanding, particularly with the Ministry of Education (Ontario's) imminent release of an updated K-12 document.


At the end of the week there's RSCON (Oct. 11-13, 2013). It's the fourth annual Reform Symposium Conference. Here's information from the Future of Education web site.

"The 4th annual Reform Symposium Conference (RSCON), a free online three day event bringing together educators, students and innovators from around the world, will be held October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. The entire conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate platform."

It's a wonderful forum, where you can check-in and hear and learn about what other educators in other countries are doing in their classrooms to integrate ICT.

I've been part of the volunteer group in the past - introducing and recording the Blackboard Collaborate session for a few presenters. This year, I'll be in Quebec City - so I am opting just to listen in (using the free wifi at my hotel). :)

Learner Management Systems

Related but yet unrelated to Blackboard Collaborate, I've been busy exploring and beginning to design a false "course shell" using the latest Ministry of Ontario Learner Management System Desire 2 Learn. It is organized not unlike blogger or a website - with file folders, discussion tabs and a number of widgets that one can embed to make a school course more interactive and interesting. It makes me want to strive to become an e-learning teacher and at least a more hands-on experimenter on the possibilities the software offers to construct a blended learning classroom. Maybe I will apply (and get hired) to run a summer course in the near-future. (Not only will I help support student learning but using this D2L system, I will be able to learn and reflect on the best way to design a course. (It's a bit more difficult to imagine users - not so organic and little morphing, adaot and improvement opportunities unless it's actually used.

Each school board has an e-learning contact, who implements and supports teacher implementation of the software (Learner Management System). Wouldn't that be an amazing opportunity!! When you have been connected, you can even begin to use Ministry-designed course shells - full of activities and ideas.

Some info about Desire 2 Learn here at an Ontario Business Report article.

The D2L is easy to use, organized in a systematic manner and has a wide variety of widgets, which allow for educator (and student) creativity when used.

Finally, on the Moodle...

I'm thoroughly enjoying the start of my Guidance part 1 course! It's mostly face-to-face, with partial online content delivery via Moodle. As someone interested in 21st century teaching and learning, I can't also help wonder what future our students face and how well we are preparing them for the real world. That's one of many reasons I'm taking this course - to learn more about the guidance curriculum - did you know the curriculum covers  K-12? The "old" document is known as Choices Into Action. And expected to be released in September 2013, but still waiting is the new: 

I have a very knowledgeable and experienced instructor. In addition, the Ontario School Counsellors' 
Association, is a storehouse of fantastic guidance and career development knowledge. OSCA web site here: http://www.osca.ca/

If you have kids going through our educational system or are just curious, you can find a lot of information around the three "pillars" of guidance education: student development, interpersonal development and career development. As someone with a particular interest in supporting exceptional students as well, I am glad to learn how the new Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) will be implemented soon. I wonder how we plan to continue to support all kinds of paths for learners - how much differentiation and learning styles will be supported in secondary school (with the use of technology where appropriate) and how we will continue to value all paths post secondary school -  whether it's the workplace, apprenticeship, college, or university to name a few. 

Here's a final site to share to learn about choices after high school: http://youthconnect.ca/htdocs/english/learn/index.asp

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