Imagine it’s your first day back at school. Are you using a dog-eared, graffiti-covered textbook, or playing interactive learning games on an iPad or Chromebook?
You might think that these two scenarios refer to the past and the future, but they both actually exist right now in Ontario for the 2 million kindergarten to Grade 12 students and almost 800,000 post-secondary students heading back to school across the province this week.
This is Ontario’s digital divide, where you never know what you might find by way of technology in any given classroom. Here at ORION, we believe that Ontario’s teachers can help shape a local solution to this global problem as regions around the world struggle to integrate technology and learning.
That’s why we’re asking them to share their ideas – read on to learn how Ontario’s kindergarten to Grade 12 teachers can lead the way.
The Problem: The Digital Divide in Ontario
As People for Education noted in their recent report, there isn’t a lot of system-wide data on how technology is used in Ontario’s schools. What they have determined so far is that 96% of students can access computers in school, while only 58% have access to their own devices outside of school. 1% of students have no access to technology anywhere at all.
It’s generally accepted that classrooms need to modernize by integrating technology and learning to achieve better student outcomes and help students understand their digital citizenship. But shifting public education from teaching computers as a subject to using computers to teach all subjects remains a challenge. Right now, there aren’t a lot of guidelines or policies on what to use or how to use it, raising issues around expense, equity of access and the efficacy of differing devices and software.
On top of all of this, the curriculum can only be complemented with technology, not replaced with it. While there’s a lot of pressure on teachers to be tech savvy, educators at our K-12 event earlier this spring stressed that there isn’t a lot of professional development training on using technology in the classroom. While some may have access to appropriate resources, others are being left to either spend their own money or free time on locating modern teaching materials.
The Solution: Teacher Feedback Through the Nexus Survey
But just as there are significant challenges facing Ontario’s public education system, there are also incredible opportunities to develop an Ontario-based solution. The first step is gaining a better understanding of what technology is currently being used in classrooms, and what technology, training and support will best assist educators.
That’s why ORION is asking kindergarten to Grade 12 teachers across Ontario to complete a survey about the use of technology in their classrooms. We want to hear from you, because no one understands better how to facilitate this change than teacher at the front of the classroom.
The more information we can gather, the better we can support your needs. So please share your ideas and ask your colleagues to do the same – and you could win brand new tablets for your classroom!