David Shortreed is a District Vice-Principal who works across 42 K-12 schools in the Greater Victoria School District #61, mentoring and collaborating with educators, parents, and students to discover the best technology tools and to implement them in the best ways. In 2013, Shortreed was recognized by the Victoria Advanced Technology Council with the Education Champion Award for his efforts using technology and innovative learning techniques to guide education in an increasingly tech-enabled classroom.
“I get asked the question a lot,” Shortreed says. “‘What does 21st Century learning look like? What does a 21st Century classroom look like?’ What I’m talking to schools about is our classrooms and our learning are changing.”
Education is moving away from factsearching to inquiry-based learning, in which learners explore questions related to their interests, and are driven and motivated to create meaningful learning experiences for themselves, often employing technology.
“At my core, and what brought me to being in education, is the valuable relationship and connection I build with students, the curiosity, and the sharing of learning. It is through this lens that I then evaluate all new tools, resources, and technology for learning,” says Shortreed. “I clearly saw how technology could give students access to resources, experts, community, and answers needed for their own learning. I saw how technology could also help make their own learning more visible through blogging, digital portfolios, and documentation.” One of the opportunities Shortreed sees for technology in the classroom is the personalization of learning. He says, “Instead of everyone having to do the same assignment that is more or less a recipe, it’s asking a student what they want to learn about, and then facilitating that desire and also allowing them to share it with people beyond the classroom.”
Classrooms in which learners are sharing with others around the world, getting feedback, building community, and showing leadership provide a personal empowerment for students that was not accessible in past decades.
“Our schools are moving away from information hubs and moving toward network hubs, and if we’re not providing a network for our learners as they exit our schools, then we’re not providing the infrastructure needed for them to be successful,” says Shortreed. Shortreed summarizes his position this way: “Learning has grown from memorizing answers and information, to asking questions and creating solutions. Technology is the vehicle for this end in mind for me.”
To support this shift in education, the #BCTECH Strategy includes the commitment to providing highspeed Internet access to 100% of the province by 2021, and introduces curricular changes that focus on STEM fundamentals. These changes, along with the Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies program, will impact 600,000 K-12 students over the next 10 years, preparing them to navigate through and capitalize on a world with tech at the fore.