York Region District School Board is a Leader in 21st Century EdTech Initiatives
(By P. Bennett and J. Steele)
The future of learning and business excellence depends on our ability to effectively use the most current information, resources and tools at our disposal. With a clear goal for student success, engagement and well-being, YRDSB is taking advantage of the proliferation of cloud-based resources and the more natural approaches to learning.
The York Region District School board recognizes that ‘Literacy in the 21st Century’ is the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable achievement, personal well-being and full participation in an interconnected and changing world community and has implemented programs to build that capacity for all their staff and students.
YRDSB has a comprehensive Wireless IT infrastructure consisting of more than 5,000 Access Points deployed across their 200 school and workplace locations. This infrastructure is designed for density and coverage.
And students and staff are using it!
BYOD has been in place in the School Board for some time. On a monthly basis, there are over 130,000 unique personally-owned devices connecting to their network. Their teachers and students are immersed in a truly personalized, collaborative and relevant learning environment using YRDSB’s implementation of Google Apps for Education and their Learning Management System, Moodle.
YRDSB’s strategies for continued success and sustainability on their Digital Learning journey include implementation of their internal support structures, Literacy@ School, Blue Prints for Change and their Technology Decision Making Framework.
A recent visit by Dell Canada staff to YRDSB’s Markville Secondary School in Markham, Ontario illustrated the effectiveness of the 21st Century structures that are in place. Entire Departments of Teachers are given release time to participate in professional learning activities. The school has a “21st Century Classroom” that is equipped with modern education technologies and Teachers in the school go through an application process to be selected to be scheduled into this classroom. I had the privilege of observing some Geography students working collaboratively on an assignment with a mind-mapping tool in one area of the classroom. Other students were conducting Internet-based research, and yet others were focused on developing final reports for their group. All students in the class were actively engaged in their learning!
At YRDSB there is a wonderful sense of shared vision and collaboration between academic and IT staff for enabling technology as an effective tool for transforming pedagogy.
Originally published in Dell Bits & Bytes in Education