A recent Deloitte study on Innovation in government in Canada found that the public service lags the private sector when it comes to innovation.
So much for stating the obvious — everyone who’s ever filled out a tax form, been to a hospital or doctor’s office, filled out a government application for services, or requested a legal document probably had some paper involved somewhere in the transaction. It’s easier to book a round trip ticket to anywhere in the world than it is to apply for a code that will let you see last year’s tax return online. At times it seems like the public sector is living in 1992, waiting to see if this Internet thing catches on before taking the plunge.
But while the public sector is behind when it comes to embracing technology, it is starting to play catch up in a wide range of fields including health care and record keeping.
And on Nov. 5, the provincial government announced a new program that will change the way parents monitor their children’s educational progress. ConnectED is a web-based service that will allow teachers to post grades and other information on educational progress from Kindergarten through graduation.
“This is an amazing opportunity to connect everyone in our education system like never before,” said Peter Fassbender, minister for education. “The new service will make it far easier for parents to engage in ongoing conversations about their child’s progress and for teachers to gain better insights into their students.
“It will also deliver powerful collaboration tools to better engage students in their own learning and help educators share learning strategies and materials with their colleagues across the province.”
The program is expected to be available by the end of this school year, April 2014, with Fujitsu Consulting signing a 12-year contract to deliver the online platform for $9.4 million annually. The charge to school districts is $10 per student, the same as the current cost for the now dated CBeSIS system, which will be decommissioned when ConnectED comes online.
Features of ConnectED include:
• A web-based portal to provide parents, students and teachers with real-time access to student records, assignments and learning resources. For example, teachers will be able to post the requirements for homework assignments and projects online for parents and students.
• The ability for parents and students to monitor progress on an ongoing basis and communicate securely with teachers and school staff.
• Features and flexibility to support personalized learning, group collaboration, special needs and flexible scheduling options — the latter of which should be of particular interest to student athletes and artists that have to fit in schooling outside of regular hours.
• A province-wide solution that maintains a single record for each student through their entire educational journey, regardless of what school they attend.
To ensure everyone involved is getting the most out of the program, schools will receive training and tools to help them make the most of ConnectED’s features when it launches.
It all sounds pretty good, although it’s rare to see software like this used to its full potential. For this to work, parents, teachers and students have to make it a habit to use ConnectED daily.
I remember what it was like to be a student in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Assignments were written on the board and copied into your notebooks, and the only resources you had to complete the project were your library card and a dated textbook. With ConnectED, all of those assignments — details and due dates — can now be posted online, along with links to resources that students can use, and helpful things like past tests you could use to prepare. If a student is having trouble with a subject, or with other students, they can contact the teacher privately.
ConnectED sounds like the kind of thing schools should be doing in 2014. I look forward to seeing it in action.
Pemberton Secondary thanks Whistler Blackcomb Foundation
The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation announced its latest series of grants recently, including some funding for Pemberton Secondary School for their Food for Thought program and their Outdoor Education program.
Food for Thought benefits students that have missed breakfast or lunch by providing them with healthy food options. “The donation will continue to support a holistic approach to learning where basic needs are met, while fostering a positive culture at PSS,” wrote Principal Nolan Cox in a thank-you letter.
Outdoor Education provides students with unique outdoor experiences while promoting a health lifestyle and leadership qualities. The WB Foundation grant will help the program to purchase some additional equipment for the student’s use.