In photo: Andrew Campbell, right, is presented with the award (and jacket) by representatives from ECOO (Photo from Grand Erie Communications).

Grand Erie Teacher Receives Technology Award

Grand Erie educator Andrew Campbell is the recipient of the Making IT Happen award through the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO), which bestows the annual honour to outstanding educational leaders who are committed to transforming classrooms through innovative technology integration. Campbell, a Grade 4/5 Teacher at Major Ballachey Public School, received the award earlier this month in Niagara Falls. Technology is a key part of Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan, and aims to increase staff knowledge of the technology available for teaching and learning. Here’s how Campbell is utilizing Grand Erie’s technological infrastructure to work towards the goal of Success for Every Student.

What kinds of possibilities does technology bring to today’s classrooms?

Technology provides new possibilities for how students learn. It engages students in new and interactive ways with the knowledge they're building and provides different ways for students to build essential learning skills. A student learning about history, for example, can access the same text resources that have always been there, but technology allows them to also access videos, see primary source documents, use virtual reality to experience what it was like in a particular time and place, or connect with subject experts. All of these mean students have a fuller and deeper understanding of what happened and why, and along the way students are building critical 21st-century competencies as they collaborate with others in the classroom, the school and beyond, engaging in open-ended problem solving.

How does technology help drive student success and achievement?

The most significant way technology drives student achievement and success is the way it can be used to enhance equity in the classroom. Technology opens up so many more pathways to learning that students who learn in different ways can much more easily find an effective way to develop understanding and build skills that works for them. Students no longer have to learn mostly through reading and writing, technology opens up subjects so that students can learn by watching videos, listening to podcasts, playing games, or even constructing their understanding in virtual spaces. As a result, students who struggle with traditional ways of learning in school can now be successful.

How are you utilizing tech currently?

What we're working towards in our classroom and our school is a seamless integration of tech into our learning. A way of learning where students aren't "doing" tech, but the tools of technology are there to support them and help them if they want and need them as they learn.

It's a very long list of the ways we use tech, but some examples would be the way that students write, share their writing, and give each other feedback on our class blog. It helps us as we develop into a community of writers, and students are becoming more comfortable with sharing their work and are beginning to want to share their writing with other authentic audiences such as their family, friends, or the wider community. This is all possible because the tech facilitates this kind of growth.

But there are similar kinds of things happening in our math program, social studies, science, etc. One way that students love to use tech is to share their understanding of something they've learned. They've become proficient at using the tools and so are able to focus on effectively sharing what they know and representing that. And we use tech to connect with others. Being able to videoconference with another class around the world is a really engaging way to help students understand the potential of technology to connect them with others where they can share ideas and learn together.

Has being the recipient of this award connected you to any new ideas or resources?

It's expanded my network so it’s now easier for me to connect with educators outside Ontario and find out the creative ways they're using technology. It's my goal to continue to improve the learning in our classroom and school. But it's also important to recognize that my connection with ECOO and my growth as an educator wouldn't have been possible without the incredible support I received from Grand Erie.

As a Digital Lead Learner, the opportunities and connections I got from the Ed Tech team was amazing, and my involvement in that program made those connections at ECOO possible. I've been fortunate in that the administrators I've worked with have also been incredibly supportive. I work at a great school with an amazing group of colleagues, and their professionalism and hard work inspires me to be better every day. The award is really a by-product of the environment I work in and the innovative practices we've been able use.

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