In Saskatchewan, many students are faced with a very long bus ride to and from school every day. For example, the Prairie South School Division covers an area of over 34000 square kilometers in southern Saskatchewan, and the vast majority of that is very sparsely populated. There are students who take a 90 minute bus ride to and from school each day. That’s 15 spine crunching hours per week bouncing over southern Saskatchewan roads. Yuk.
I see the internet as the new school bus, and when I say internet, I mean bandwidth. Bandwidth is bringing the education to the students instead of the bus taking the students to the school. I really don’t care about which particular tool is being used, as it is all about how the tool is being used and why it is being used that way. I will say this again and again, teachers must be willing to use technology with an eye on the future. The 21st Century Learning Competencies and the 7C’s are vital to the future of our students. Naomi mentions in her blog about how distance students don’t get the same support as the face to face students, and I agree with her that the tools need continual improvement in order to help each individual meet their learning goals, but we also can’t take our eye off the importance of 21st Century Learning.
I think the students who ride the old school bus are facing a potential advantage that urban students won’t have as the province faces “transformational change” and distance learning i sure to increase. For example, a student may have a great idea for providing clean water to impoverished communities around the world. Who has the experience to communicate their ideas to the appropriate authorities – the student who took half or more of their high school credits online and o University classes using effective distance education tools, or the student who simply changed classrooms in the same building? No one knows what the tools will look like in 20 years, but the skills will remain. Communicate, Collaborate, Create, Critical Thinking, etc. should be at the heart of every distance learning opportunity. Anything less is a waste.