Friday, 22 March 2013 08:36

PRSD forging ahead with consortium

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Prairie Rose School Division is forging ahead with its partnership with two other school divisions to create an Alberta Open Learning Consortium.


PRSD is working with Prairie Land School Division, which it shares a border with to the north, Livingstone Range School Division, which covers a large area in the southwest corner of the province and Pembina Hills, in northern Alberta. Classes will be offered in all four divisions using video conferencing technology.
“We’re talking about how to sustain rural programming and how possibly to increase programming,” said Superintendent Doug Nicholls at the March 12 regular meeting. “The way to do that is to create partnerships to allow that to happen.”
Close to 100 schools could be involved with the consortium. Its goals include creating personalized learning environments for students, increasing access to programs, increasing high-school completion rates, and developing interdependent learners.
“A big driver of this will have to be building teacher capacity (in video conference teaching),” added Nicholls.
The consortium will be governed by an administrative committee with representatives from all the partner divisions. In the future, member boards may be asked to provide some funding to help train teachers in teaching using video conference technology.
Nicholls said those involved don’t want to see more centralization of expertise.
“We want to see teachers in small rural schools maintain their expertise in the rural settings.”
Alberta Education officials are interested in these kinds of partnerships in Alberta.
“We’ve already had some contacts looking to join us, but we’re not ready yet,” said Nicholls.
He pointed out the number of smaller high schools in the province is growing. There are 72 high schools in Alberta with fewer than 100 students and that number will grow.
“We need to find our own solutions. We believe this is a very small piece in the solution,” said Nicholls.
“This is a significant initiative. We have the verbal support of Alberta Education and the interest in keeping this going.”

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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