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Q & A: High school redesign cause for concern

May 5, 2015 Gordon Thomas, Executive Secretary

Question: So what’s happening with the high school redesign project?

Answer: That’s very unclear. The Association is not a member of the project advisory committee. The only people who have participated on the project advisory committee are from the pilot schools. Given the directions of government to use the results of the project for further implementation, the Association sought a place on the advisory committee last summer. To date, the Association has not been provided with the opportunity to represent the teaching profession on such an advisory committee.

Increasingly, we are very concerned about the project. Alberta Education is currently funding a major initiative, through the Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium, for pilot school teachers (and related staff) to participate in a one-day collaboration session “to have a role in defining the current and future vision of responsible and flexible learning environments in our schools.” The session, fully paid by a government grant, will help “to provide an initial platform to examine Flexible Learning Environments and Personalization.”

Of course, flexible learning environments and personalization involve extensive use of online and blended learning: “We will be examining the process that you have taken to develop responsible and flexible learning environments by rethinking online and blended learning for students and how these teaching practices are promoting personalized learning within your schools.”

So there may well be trouble ahead. The Association’s vision of high school redesign certainly doesn’t begin with extensive use of online and blended learning and the promotion of the ambiguous concept of personalized learning. Personalization tightly linked to technology-mediated individualization “anywhere, anytime,” all under the banner of blended or online learning, is being sold across the United States as the corporate education reform model that is less expensive than certificated teachers.

It’s becoming apparent why we have not been invited to participate as the pilot project moves toward implementation. Some teachers and administrators have expressed very serious concerns about these new directions. Stay tuned.  ❚

Questions for consideration in this ­column are welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House (

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