We live in a world that is changing, and the way we approach education must change with the times. Increased personalization is key, as well as the incorporation of technology, an extremely powerful tool of our generation.
Technology allows for students to specialize in what interests them through online courses, such as the ones offered at the South Island Distance Education School, or SIDES.
In the case of Parkland, the staff and administration have been working on developing a partnership with SIDES that will allow students to experience courses that cannot run as part of the regular timetable.
Students can complete a SIDES course during an allotted school block with the support of Parkland staff, as well as a SIDES teacher who will come to the school a few times a week to provide further support.
The use of online courses is just one of many ways education can become more specialized to suit each student’s needs.
Project-based and hands-on learning will also become more common and a community-based approach to education will be adopted.
For example, Parkland will be offering sciences and trades that focus on the marine industry, since it plays a large role in our community and there are many opportunities for students to experience it firsthand.
This ties in well with “21st century learning,” a concept that the Ministry of Education is promoting. Twenty-first century learning focuses on the incorporation of technology into learning environments, as well as increased opportunities for individualized and personalized learning. These two ideas are interlinked, since technology allows for students to access new opportunities for individual learning which might otherwise not be available.
Mark Fraser, the principal of Parkland, hopes to “move toward a place where there are fewer boundaries to education,” using a combination of technology-based and face-to-face learning methods. Clearly, above all, flexibility is important in order to meet the unique needs of today’s diverse students.
Catriona Dempsey is entering Grade 12 at Parkland secondary school in the fall.