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IN BRIEF: School District enters Internet age

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
March 25th, 2012

The regular Education Board meeting for School District 51 on Tuesday, March 13 was all about the internet from online learning to their dive into the age of Facebook.

Online learning program taking off in the Boundary

Can’t get your kid off the computer? Maybe that’s okay if they’re involved in the online learning pilot project being offered in School District 51.

For the past five months SD 51 students from Walker Development Center, Boundary Central Secondary School, Grand Forks Secondary School and Big White Community School have been participating in the Moodle based project. Moodle, or Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Enviroment, is a free source e-learning software platform that is used by educators to create interactive online courses. More than 57 million students use the 5.8 million courses offered.

The program being offered through SD51 is focussed on personalized learning or tailored learning, and the need to find student initiated and directed educational programs.

Jennifer Turner, principal of Walker Development Centre, is coordinating the project and made a presentation to the board about the success to date.

“Online learning interest is developing faster — almost more than I can keep up with it,” said Turner.

Unlike correspondence courses, this is a “blended” learning environment, said Turner. It uses technology to enrich what a teacher is already delivering in the classroom. Students still go to class where a teacher is providing support and direction. What makes this format attractive to the students is their ability to work on the course material at their own pace. They can continue the lesson at home, do a test when they want and get their marks.

The student completion rates are higher under the blended learning model at about 90 per cent, said Turner. Distance learning models usually have a low completion rate at about 20 per cent in this district. The difference is in the teaching.

“(Blended learning) is facilitated by a teacher in the room. Students are connecting with a teacher and ont on their own. Teachers and kids can use technology together to succeed,” she said.

When the program started in late 2011 it began with 11 course offerings. It is now up to 22 courses and 216 students. Turner anticipates there will be 30 courses in use by June of this year. Students can take everything from Physical Education 10 to English to Social Studies. Turner looks forward to expanding their selections as the blended learning models becomes more popular.

Friend the school district on Facebook

Get the latest information from Boundary School District 51 on their Facebook page.

The board has launched but are not “actively promoting” their new presence on the popular social media networking site this past week, superintendent Michael Strukoff told the board during their regular meeting earlier this month.

The board hopes their Facebook page will be another option for parents to keep up to date on what’s going on in their children’s schools.

“It will be used to draw them back into our website,” said Strukoff. “Short and sweet would be all you’d want (to post). The messages would be general and be of interest to most parents.”

“Facebook will bring you back to the website,” said board chair Teresa Rezansoff. “I think it’s great.”

Find SD 51 at www.facebook.com/sd51boundary .

The board will be monitoring their Facebook page until the end of this school year to determine whether it is benefical or not. They may also consider using Twitter as another way of connecting with parents.

Categories: General