To date we have advised readers of New Brunswick’s efforts to shift our public education system to a 21st Century learning model. We have explored the nature of 21st Century competencies and how 1:1 notebook models empower students and foster 21st Century learning. In our last article we began identifying current ICT applications within our system to illustrate our current state of readiness to go even further (School District 16-Drupal). In this article we provide two new examples of how ICT rich environments are changing the nature learning in New Brunswick’s public education system.
1. James M. Hill Memorial School’s Broadcast Journalism:
Imagine a real television studio, a sound recording booth, HDTV cameras, video and audio mixing consoles, professional lighting, green screens, special effects software and virtual sets in a public school. These are some of the tools used by students in Broadcast Journalism at James M. Hill Memorial School in New Brunswick. This course is also being offered at four additional schools. Web applications such as Bridgit software and Moodle allow the students to participate in real time, regardless of where they are located.
There is cross over to language arts for scripting, editing and publishing. Students are faced with all the challenges of a real television news room and the tools to storyboard, shoot, perform, edit, produce and publish their assignments.
The course has its own living website that is dynamic and populated with professional quality student created content. Students are given their own username and password and add content weekly to this site which provides a place for their work to be showcased to the world and commented on. You can visit the site at http://dt16community.nbed.nb.ca/report/.
As a result of this real world approach some very powerful relationships with industry have been created. These relationships have allowed students to have workshops with news anchors, producers, reporters, camera people and technical personnel. Broadcast Journalism was featured on CBC School Zone multiple times and CTV broadcasted Live at 5 from the District 16 Digital Media Studio and featured the course (http://dt16community.nbed.nb.ca/report/video/live-5-visits-school-district-16).
Although the students are spread out over a large geographical area the technology that is in place creates an experience for students that is the closest thing to being in the same room that modern technology will allow.
2. Racing Physics
In several New Brunswick high schools an exciting new era of collaboration has developed between physics and automotive technology students and teachers. In these schools students are faced with STEM style questions that they solve using scale model, radio controlled vehicles called Revos.
Although scaled down, these vehicles are real in every sense. They can be adjusted and modified as a real car would. Students are able to monitor the performance of the vehicles by capturing a data stream over wireless Internet on an iPod. This way they can evaluate the effect of any modifications made in real time. They can make changes to the vehicle, predict the change in performance and then test/verify. One of the effects of this program, besides enhanced student engagement is that automotive students have shown an interest in physics and vice versa.
There is also a middle school version of this project underway where students use simpler vehicles to explore mathematical concepts like distance time and acceleration.
These two examples illustrate how ICT changes the nature of the classroom. Students are applying their knowledge in exciting new ways. As a result, they are motivated and engaged, and understand more deeply the concepts being presented to them.
John D. Kershaw
NB Department of Education
David M. Kershaw