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Bringing Past 1:1 Experience to New Role
Author: Ron Canuel, Canadian Educational Association | November 16th, 2010

cea_logoFor over 34 years, I served the public education sector in the province of Quebec. As the Director General of the Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB), I spent ten wonderful years working with a group of individuals truly committed to making a difference for children and educators. The most notable initiative was our 1:1 wireless laptop deployment for all children from Grades 3-11. This initiative began in 2003 and has become an embedded part of classroom and school activities for the vast majority of teachers and students.

In April 2010, I retired as the Director General and had not made any real specific plans other than plenty of golf and fishing. Well, at least it lasted an entire six month period, because since October 1, 2010, I am now the Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Education Association. I was drawn to this organization mainly due to the rich content of their activities, as demonstrated in a Strategic Plan that focuses on Transformation, Innovation and Creativity. See our website. To add to this context, the CEA has invested into a R&D initiative entitled What Did You Do In School Today? I mention this initiative since I have often been asked what is the best path to take regarding the expansion of 1:1 environments throughout educational systems.

Without a doubt, inclusion of student input into the elaboration of 1:1 deployment plans must play a critical role in the entire process. This was one of the fundamental core beliefs that we developed in the ETSB ; that is, having students serve as important support mechanisms for the integration of the technology into the classroom and guiding the development of classroom activities.

As the CEO of the Canadian Education Association, I remain focused on the significant role that technology can play in the classroom, especially since the” world “ of students is an incredibly rich technological reality. As educators, we simply cannot afford to have such a disconnect between the classroom and world that children now live within.

One-to-one deployments are catalysts to change and transformation. I know, I have witnessed it first hand for over 7 years. Can technology be used to mirror traditional learning and teaching practices? Yes, and in some cases, it is perfectly understandable. Can 1:1 deployments continue to make a difference? Yes, but we need to expand our message to include the educators, the parents, the policymakers, the politicians who are reluctant to face these new realities. I appreciate that my new role will allow me the opportunity to share this paradigm and hopefully convince colleagues that change in education is not only good, it is overdue. When Horace Mann designed the current educational system in the 1840’s, there is no doubt that he too would have become worried that to date, changes in the classrooms have been limited. He was an innovator and dedicated himself to making education a societal mandate for all children. In my opinion, for the past 34 years, the only “real” change that happens in the classroom is the arrival of students in our classrooms at the beginning of every school year. As a fellow friend and educator once pointed out to me, “Ron, the kids in our classrooms are the same age. We are the ones who are getting older, more entrenched in our practices and less open to change!”

There is no doubt that the children of the future will live, work and play in a world that we cannot truly envision. As such, 1:1 deployments truly respond to offering relevancy to the classroom.

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