Learn, unlearn, relearn...

Ted Johnson, Delta Access

November 13, 2012

Last January I tweeted out "Twitter is my best source of professional learning". Ten months later, this still holds true.

I'm more of a follower than a tweeter, really. I like to read people's posts and follow their links. I suppose I could re-tweet more often but the old-school in me says, 'that's not very original", so rarely do I re-tweet. Clearly, I need to reframe and see it as sharing! Aside from the tweets that provide great links to other sites, I like the ones that entice. In under 140 characters, tweeters say something profound or startling and I'm captured.

A great tweeter whom I follow is Terry Small - the Brainguy (@terrysmall). Very often he puts something out there that makes you think, like: Is it a good thing for electronic devices and the Internet to store our memories for us? When we allow that to happen, who do we become? He also tweets out what he calls BrainTips, like: Facing a conundrum? Distract yourself. Stepping away from a problem, then coming back to it gives your brain a fresh perspective.

It's Terry's passion for keeping our brains fresh that motivated me to enroll a few months ago into an on-line diploma course through Vancouver Community College on Online Course Development (Thanks also goes to NDSS teacher, Kristina Preston, for pointing the way. She's also taking the program).

So far, the course has been an interesting one. It certainly gives you a different perspective - one of being a student again. It also gives a good perspective on both the positive and negative sides of on-line learning. My purpose here is not to delve into those depths, but rather to point to the very fact that on-line learning enrollment is growing immensely.

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning published a report in 2011 that says of the 649,952 K-12 students in BC, 88,000 were taking some form of online learning course or program. Two years prior, that number was only a third of that. Like many of our online teaching colleagues, my concern is the question of quality: what are the measures for determining a good online learning environment? If that many students are willing to take an online course, how do we ensure that they are engaged, that they are actually learning, and that they finish the course?

At Delta Access, our own online learning school, our completion rates for school aged students was 81%, up from 67% the previous year. While we can be proud of this great increase, we clearly have some work to do. And that is why I am excited to be working with our online teachers. They, like many of our educators in Delta, are reflecting on their teaching practice, willing to keep their brains fresh because as Terry, our Brainguy has tweeted: The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." ~Alvin Toffler