Ontario Tech wants to help teachers prepare for the changing school model this fall.
From August 10 to 14, the university’s Faculty of Education is running an online conference for a range of educators, from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
The aim is to discuss teaching techniques in a combination of in-person, hybrid and online settings.
“I can’t even imagine any other event that would jump-start educators to using technology other than what’s happened here,” said Dr. Robin Kay, Dean of Ontario Tech’s Faculty of Education. “People that may have been sitting on the bench or not using technology have no choice but to use it in some way.”
The conference will consist of more than two-dozen online workshops – each costing $10 and accommodating up to 8,000 participants.
Topics range from planning virtual math lessons to creating engaging educational videos.
However, Dr. Kay notes that it’s more about the teaching methods than the technology itself.
“Online’s just a vehicle,” he said. “It won’t make you a better teacher. It’ll actually sort of accentuate poor teaching.”
“You might think, ‘Oh, I’m just going to create a long video and that will be my lecture,’ and I’ve seen that done,” he continued. “But it’s very painful to try to watch something for an hour and a half…there’s not going to be much motivation there.”
One aspect of the learning experience that’s being emphasized is connection.
“It could be through email,” said Dr. Kay. “It could be something simple like responding really quickly to students to maintain that connection, or having students develop personal learning networks so they work with each other in teams. So it’s sort of maximizing what online might have to offer, and trying to do it well.”
As well, there will be free networking sessions, through which the teachers can connect with each other.
“Even if you’ve met three or four people online [who you will] have access to in this particular conference, that will be a small group that you can start to rely on,” he says. “It’ll be a nice combination of experienced teachers with less experienced teachers as well. You can’t guarantee that kind of thing, but we’re trying to create a community and see how that works.”
Dr. Kay suggests that with the swift rise of online learning, there may be potential for teachers and students to try out new ideas. He notes that students in remote communities may wind up accessing a wider range of courses.
However, he stops short of calling this the new normal.
“I don’t think everybody’s going to go online,” said Dr. Kay. “I think they’ll be craving to see each other face to face, once we’re allowed to do that, but I think there’s options available that teachers may not have considered.”
For more information on the online conference, click here.
Photo courtesy of Ontario Tech University