‘BC’s ‘Innovation Strategy’ breathes new life into Personalized Learning for BC schools

It’s amazing what a good look in the mirror and a fresh coat of paint can do to revive almost-forgotten projects. On January 29th, the BC Ministry of Education convened a remarkable forum at the Wosk Centre with headline speakers and a gallery of people from business, educational and social interests. The forum was staged around a formally-announced update to the ‘BC Ed Plan‘ that is intended to nurture the growth of personalized learning in BC schools.

The forum, including the BC Minister of Education Peter Fassbender and other notable international speakers, delivered a message that the ‘BCEd Plan’, which had been languishing in the face of labour issues and political inertia, is back in circulation. ‘BCEd Plan 2.0’, now known as the BC Ministry of Education’s “Innovation Strategy” has new life and new champions.

Where the BC Ed Plan emerged from the advocacy of then-minister George Abbott, inspired by a passel of BC teens sharing ideas about their vision for a more engaging and effective education system, the “Innovation Strategy” was announced with the help of Minister Fassbender opining that the education system needs to be more responsive to individual learning sensibilities, including those of his young grandchildren.

Other forum voices included noted University of Oregon education researcher and author Yong Zhao (World Class Learners, 2012), ‘Innovation Zone’ guru David Albury, and York University’s ‘Self-Regulation’ expert Dr. Stuart Shanker.

“The focus for this transformation is the movement to increasingly personalized learning, which is enabled and supported by quality teaching and learning, flexibility and choice, and high standards.”

– BC EdPlan Update, released on January 29th

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Presenter Yong Zhao at BCEdPlan Forum, which was live-streamed in its entirety.

These three, and other speakers supported the initiative through their addresses which zoomed out to global-scale recognition of the paralyzing effects of education standardization, and zoomed in to the uniquely distinct neurobiological profiles of every individual learner, young or older.

The next day I attended a follow-up meeting, on behalf of my school SelfDesign Learning Community, with about 30 other innovative educators to brainstorm ideas with key ministry personnel about how to truly ignite the initiative in and across BC schools.

It was an invigorating day, highlighted for me by the fact that, for once, the Ministry of Education, didn’t feign expertise or authority about a subject  – education innovation – about which it really knows very little. Rather, that was marked out as our purview, which is a great step in the right direction.

Though Ministry personnel didn’t say as much, I think it’s safe to concede it learned something from it’s failed attempt at broad educational innovation  through the much kicked around Year 2000 program, 25 years ago.

That’s good news for BC learners and schools, for now and in the foreseeable future.

I promise to provide future updates as meetings and plans emerge.

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