Getting Started

Navigating a pandemic through the lens of education made EC&I 834: Designing for Blended and Online Learning a logical choice for my first foray into graduate level studies. I have been a vice-principal since the 2019/2020 school year and learning to lead through an extremely challenging time has been invaluable to my growth as a leader and an individual.

Pivoting from in-person learning to distance education presented many obstacles and challenges. Establishing new norms and routines for students and staff was daunting; however, I was amazed at the collective knowledge so many educators brought to the table. When the Government of Saskatchewan announced the pause on in-person learning teachers had to learn methods of teaching. For early adopters of Google Classroom and other learning management systems, the shift was the moment they had been waiting for. Meanwhile, many seasoned teachers- who relied solely on traditional face-to-face instruction panicked. I found myself somewhere in the middle. Having had the opportunity to complete my B.Ed at Ontario Tech University, I was much more prepared for the rigors of distance education. However, I had not full embraced the power of digital learning spaces, and like many, found myself on a learning curve to ensure my students had a learning environment that mirrored the traditional classroom experience.

With such a dramatic paradigm shift, it was important to identify strategies and best practice methodologies to ensure teachers knew how to construct daily lessons and learning activities that nurtured students while embedding inquiry based learning. It was during this time that a colleague introduced me to the work of John Spencer. Through a series of courses, Spencer became influential in the way I thought about distance education and instruction. I used this time as an opportunity to experiment with ideas and concepts.

Woman video conferencing with tutor on laptop at home. Distance education concept.

While much of the focus of my masters program will be in the leadership realm, I have gained a keen interest in enhancing my practice in the area of distance education. As the pandemic (hopefully) comes to an end, school divisions across Canada have dramatically rethought the way they deliver education. As we recover and gain a sense of normalcy, it is important to acknowledge that quality education can be delivered remotely through various means. By taking this course, I intend to achieve three fundamental goals:

  1. Gain a stronger understanding of pedagogy through the lens of online and blended learning
  2. Engage with multiple platforms and understand how to create synchronous and asynchronous learning environments
  3. Network with individuals that are keen to share knowledge of the digital education sphere

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