Saturday, May 30, 2020

New Research Project ~ Manitoba Educators Wanted!

A colleague (Dr. J. Kirk) and I were going to examine how school administrators make use of social media, but put that off once the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of all of our lives. So we decided to re-focus on how certain Manitoba educators (K-12 teachers, school administrators, and division technology coordinators have used social media (in their professional lives) during the school shutdowns due to the pandemic. In order to make it quick and easy for stressed and overworked educators, we are using a simple survey approach. We feel the information will not only be interesting, but informative as the crisis persists.

If you are a MANITOBA educator in one of these groups - K-12 teacher (also including resource teacher, teacher-librarian, counsellor, etc), a school Principal or Vice-Principal, or a School Division Technology coordinator/leader. Please take a few minutes to complete our survey!


(PS - this research has been approved by the Brandon University Research Ethics Committee)

Friday, May 8, 2020

Curriculum & Pedagogy in the Pandemic

One thing this pandemic of school closures and learning at home has done is prompting a lot of thinking about pedagogy and curriculum. This was a point of a wide ranging discussion at a faculty council and department meeting recently. Such discussions are important at all levels as we move forward into these challenging times.

While parents and teachers are stressed, there are many comments on social media of kids pursuing passions, learning with families, and learning by doing. Many on various media talked about relaxing expectations a bit, assessing differently, using different tasks, and taking time to connect and slow down. Much of this was a way of coping and trying to keep stress levels for everyone manageable, but it does make us think about how we "do" education, to reflect on our pedagogy. How do we move forward? One thing that has certainly come to the fore is the use of various technologies - questions of platforms and apps and access are all important. This has highlighted the inequities in terms of access to the Internet, devices, and so on. It is important to improve connectivity across the land. This time also helps us realize the importance of humanity - the relationships, those things that really matter.

Hopefully it will help us all to take some time to contemplate the idea of curriculum - and the idea that we have to "cover" it all. I know I have already been considering my own courses and approaches (and I don't teach again until next January - sabbatical!
). While certain skills and knowledge are important, there are other things that deserve attention as well. We need to examine our conception of curriculum. As teachers at all levels struggle to enable learning without being 'together', our pedagogies are being taxed and hopefully we are reflecting on the strategies we use. When this is all over, we should take lessons learned and make positive changes to meet the challenges of the future.