What is Curriculum? According to Alberta Education, Alberta’s provincial Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum, or “programs of study”, is defined as “what” students are expected to know, understand, and be able to do in each subject and grade. Alberta's curriculum has remained the same for at least eight year, and some curriculum have remained unchanged for 30 years. Historically, we have been preparing kids for factory line type jobs but we are doing a disservice to our children and the future of the province and the country if we continue on this path. A curriculum redesign is not only necessary, but overdue. According to Alberta Education, the philosophy behind the curriculum is: We are looking ahead to the future and working to ensure that provincial curriculum continues to give all students the best possible start in life and meet the demands of living in the 21st century. To ensure student success, we need our curriculum to be relevant, meaningful and engaging for all students.
In preparation for the curriculum redesign, a Central Alberta School Division, has spent considerable time and money to prepare the teachers and staff for changes in technology. Technology coaches were established in each school, Technology Integration Leaders were deployed for intensive technology training in schools, as well as large infrastructural changes. In Lacombe, Axis supernet was added to support the growing demand for fast, reliable internet access, as well as a shift away from desktop dependance to Google Suite for both the staff and students. Over 5000 chromebooks were deployed out to schools and a simple parent-purchase program available to get technology in the hands of students. Technology is now a part of the regular classroom rather than an event where a lab is booked for a special project. The majority of teachers have moved up the SAMR model from simple substitution to a lot of modification (in my school) and a few into the redesign level. For divisions who do not have similar technology support, I predict this will be a difficult transition in not only learning new 21century tools, but also changing the fundamental ways they teach using technology on top of learning a new curriculum with a project/problem based foundation. Technology tools have made collaboration for our students easy. It is fairly simple to collaborate with a peer in the room or someone of the other side of the world. Our children are able to explore places and virtually experience things that we, as adults, didn't have the opportunity to do as children.
With the integration of Google Suite into our classes, most parents in our division have already been exposed to a shift in learning. Their children are no longer just bringing home worksheets but collaborating with peers online with Google Drive and discussing projects via Google Hangouts. Different technology tools are being used to show learning rather than one static assignment. I anticipate that collaboration will be a large part of the new curriculum. As Educational Leaders, will be have to be able to communicate that, although the basics may not feel like the basics they learned in school, the skills around numeracy and literacy will be taught in a new, and more meaningful, context. Educational Leaders will also have to look at things like scheduling and team teaching to allow for the teachers to collaborate and infuse technology into their lessons. This may mean the creation of teaching pods or teams, flex time, and more professional development.
Much work has been put into clearing a path but ultimately, we still have to walk the path. When the new curriculum is published, educational leaders will need to lead their staff up this path with a positive attitude, help point out the new and exciting opportunities to learn to those struggling with the change, and lead by example. By modelling collaboration, problem based projects, and allowing time and opportunity to discuss and discover as a team, we will no doubt lead the way in Alberta with this new and exciting curriculum.