Word of advancements in education at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) is starting to spread.
The School Technology branch of Alberta Education highlighted some of the school’s education models in a feature video produced at the school March 11. The video is expected to premier in the summer.
Greg Esteves, technology integration director for Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS), says PSC operations interested Alberta Education.
The organization is rolling out a Learning and Technology Policy Framework with five key areas:
• Student centred learning
• Research and Innovation
• Professional learning
• Access to digital infrastructure and learning environments
Esteves says a piece of this framework includes inspiring education, with a focus on what education in 2030 will look like and how graduates, only now entering the system, will perceive the world. “What are the characteristics they will display as an educated Albertan?”
There are three major goals for graduates under this framework:
• Ethical citizens
• Engaged thinkers
• Entrepreneurial spirit
For the third goal, Esteves says the idea is to provide students with tools to never give up in the face of adversity. “It keeps you coming up with new ideas.”
With ethical citizens, the goal is to give students a strong understanding of global and digital citizenship — infusing technology is a large part of this idea.
Esteves says the second goal of engaged thinkers is to change how students are taught.
“It used to be a lot of stand and deliver type of education…At this school in particular, that’s not the norm,” explained Esteves.
Many of the learning spaces at PSC are open concept rather than a closed classroom.
“It’s an exciting direction that education is taking,” he added.
While there is much innovation at the school, there are also challenges in making adjustments and working with parents and stakeholders who are used to an older teaching model.
Despite challenges, PSC leading the way for Alberta schools
Esteves feels PSC teaching and WCPS planning is aligning well with Alberta Education’s goals; indeed, planners in the technology branch of Alberta Education have sought advice from WCPS on guides to digital citizenship and how to make a policy on bringing personal digital devices to schools.
“Every time I come into this building, there’s a part of me says, ‘I would like to be a student again and also, I would like to go back into my role as a teacher,’” said Esteves.
He suggests there are still challenges facing administrators; stakeholders have the right to question those changes. Esteves feels education 30 years ago worked but administrators must also challenge people on their perspective of “where the world is today.”
“You have to have the courage to face both groups or all groups, and explain your vision,” he said.
He says researchers and employers are looking for a different type of person, one who can be creative and who can work in teams. Understanding technology is a key part of the requirement.
“What we’re trying to help them (parents) understand is how the system we’re building, facilitates the building of those skills,” explained Esteves.
Teachers and students at the school were interviewed most of the day.
Parents not as interested
While the teaching practices at the PSC attract a lot of interest from outside the town, parents of the PSC students showed little interest in a day of “Exhibition of Student Learning” announced by the school administration last week.
The announcement invited parents along with their children to visit the new open education facilities at the campus and get a glimpse of how the project-based education on Thursday afternoon, March 13.
There were only a few parents, however, who were really interested in where and how their children were receiving their education.
PSC teachers put a brave face on it saying that it was probably the nice weather that kept most of the parents away from their exhibition day.
“It is pretty cool, I like the colors and I like the open spaces, they didn’t have that in my schools,” said Brent Wilson, who has two children at the PSC.
“I came down tonight to learn more through the interviews with parents and to keep up with the kids.”
“It is nice to see the new space of their learning. All the teachers were very nice and they were very informative. “