Published on May 06, 2013
Services to Lester B. Pearson School Board students will not be cut next year despite the Education Ministry’s $2 million cutback. Photo by François Lemieux.
Published on April 28, 2011
Suanne Stein Day has been elected as the new chairman for the Lester B. Pearson School Board after a secret-ballot vote by the council of commissioners on April 20.
Technology key to students' future, says chairman of Lester B. Pearson School Board
Suanne Stein Day is chairman to one of the largest English school boards in Quebec, responsible for 38 elementary schools, 12 secondary schools, and six adult and vocational education centres. In a Q&A with the Chronicle, the chairman discusses a decline in school enrolment, the increase use of technology in classrooms, and its overall impact on the student body.
You’ve been on record as saying Quebec’s language law may eventually hurt enrolment to English schools in the West Island. Is the LBPSB experiencing a decline in enrolment for 2013-14 school year?
Stein Day: Language laws have resulted in diminished enrolment in our schools since the inception of the linguistic school boards in 1998. We expect a reduction of about 500 students this year.
Are there ways to encourage the English parents who send their children to French schools, to invest their children’s future in the English school system?
Stein Day: The one thing we can be pleased about is that Anglophone parents have a choice about where to send their students. We do not want to remove that choice. We very much wish the Francophone parents had the same choice. Parents choose a school for many reasons, not just language. LBPSB is committed to continuing to offering several innovative, experiential and successful learning opportunities that will attract as many eligible students as possible.
We’re in an age of innovation and technology. How has it shaped the modern-day classroom?
Stein Day: The modern-day classroom must use modern-day technology as modern-day tools, teaching students not just how to use it, but how to be a responsible digital citizen in today’s electronic, far-reaching world. Students are no longer restricted to knowledge about their immediate surroundings or the material in the textbook de jour. If the internet is available, the world and the people in it are at the fingertips of the students and their teacher.
What are some of the technological changes experienced by LBPSB classrooms?
Stein Day: LBPSB is in the midst of implementing a system-wide Wi-Fi infrastructure that will allow teachers and students to use technology how, when and where they choose to enhance their learning experiences. The technology will be available, governed by the board’s Appropriate Use of Digital Communications and Technologies Policy, in various forms in each of our schools. Successful past pilot projects have resulted in the spread of the digital classroom in many schools. Some students are using Windows or Google powered laptops, some, MacBook’s and some, iPads and iPods throughout their school year. Current pilots are taking place using Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) models while other students are loaned devices for a class or purchase their device for the year.
Can too much of a good thing ever become a distraction for students and how can instructors and parents ensure technology is being using in an effective manner?
Stein Day: The technology is being used as a means to an end. In class, students are expected to achieve their scholastic objectives by using technology as a tool. It’s certainly not being used in all classrooms, and teachers are encouraged to use all tools at their disposal. Classrooms are still managed by teachers and students will be expected to use their computers or tablets for their intended purpose and responsibly. Seminars and information are available for parents to help in the process of monitoring their children’s use of computers and technology.
What does the modern-day classroom look like in five years?
Stein Day: Classrooms need to keep up with the changing student. Children’s brains are wired differently than those of their parents and grandparents and there is no reason to believe changes will slow down. Innovative teachers supported by evolving lesson plan and teaching methods will have to be able to engage each and every student in an increasingly diverse cohort. Technology, of course, will be ubiquitous and will be as key to a student as pencil and paper is today. Emphasizing the 5 Cs will be important - how technology allows students to collect, communicate, create, collaborate and most importantly to be critical thinkers. The more students can be viewed as individuals and can learn in their own way, the more successful the educational system will be.