I am a learner and I am a teacher. Simple. The two, for me, are inseparable and part of the whole.
After 4 decades in the K-12 field, I am now Manager of Professional Learning with the YMCA of Greater Toronto. This is not dissimilar to a previous role in planning the professional development for teachers in a school district in Toronto.
However, I still am deeply involved in educational practice through the Powerful Learning Practice (PLP), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF), the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO) and, of course, in online learning spaces.
I spent 13 years teaching elementary students and 18 years as a Computers in Education consultant in the Toronto District school system.
I have been involved in using computers with kids and teachers since 1978. This gives me an interesting perspective on things. I have seen many ‘saviour’ technologies come and go. So I sort of stick to my roots although I enthusiastically welcome new developments and, indeed, like to be part of them. I believe that there are technologies that lend themselves better to learning than others, but I also recognize that it is their use that is critical. To that end, I advocate models of learning which engage a student’s natural ‘desire to know’ and, therefore am focused on social-constructivist uses of ICT (information and communications technologies) in education.
In the early 80s I introduced project-based telecommunications to my school district through such applications as: FrEdMail, National Geographic’s Kids’ Network, GlobalLab, I*EARN, ThinkQuest, Orillas, CitySpace, Canada’s SchoolNet and Global SchoolHouse.
In 2000 Logo Computer Systems Incorporated (LCSI) contracted me as Lead Designer of Journal Zone – a collaborative online journal – software that I conceived and prototyped during my doctoral studies in educational psychology. This development was federally supported through the SchoolNet’s Learnware fund of Industry Canada.
I became involved with the YMCA of Greater Toronto when hired to be the curriculum leader at the YMCA Academy – a relatively new independent secondary school focused on an holistic, constructivist and equitable approach to learning and teaching.
The difference between ‘learning in school’ and ‘learning outside of school’ has always been a passionate interest – although this dichotomy often has led me into conflict with the ‘system’. Nevertheless, I try to retain optimism and sense of humour.
PLEASE NOTE: All opinions expressed in this content are my own, and not necessarily those of the YMCA of Greater Toronto.