Alberta Education has spent a great deal of time and effort to engage the greater community in seeking feedback on how to change Alberta’s Education system. In 2008 they began one initiative, to examine the current delivery and supports for special education students within the province. They travelled the province asking stakeholders what was working with the current system and how we could make that system better. This initiatives led into the development of Action on Inclusion, which was one of the action agendas that was then rolled out through Inspiring Education – Inspiring Action. http://education.alberta.ca/department/ipr.aspx
As part of the Action on Inclusion initiative Alberta Education made a call for school jurisdictions to assist with the change through participating by becoming a Change Agent for Action on Inclusion. This has the potential to be a brilliant initiative, allowing the school jurisdictions to work with each other and Alberta Education to prototype some examples of good inclusive practice.
Rocky View Schools (RVS – http://www.rockyview.ab.ca/) in both their last and current three-year plans included the goal “Learners have their Individuals Needs Met” One of the current outcomes under that goal is to ensure learning environments are designed to be universally accessible where all student have the opportunity for success. This goal and outcome were natural starting points for RVS to be part of the Change Agent Project with Alberta Education. RVS applied to be one of twelve school jurisdictions in the province to be a Change Agent for Action on Inclusion and was successful with their proposal.
Rocky View Schools is very purposeful in their language in discussing and ensuring inclusive learning environments. We are deliberately creating universal learning environments that ensure all students have the opportunity for success. We focus on engaging the learner and personalizing the learning to motivate and encourage the learner. Then we seek to support this learning environment with emerging technologies to ensure access, personalization and individualization of the learning. Rocky View Schools has used their learning model to place the learner at the centre of the learning process for several years now. The learning model then uses Universal Design for Learning, Understanding by Design and Balanced Assessment in concert to support the learning process.
Currently, our 21st Century Learning Specialist Joan Kollowyn is the lead of our Change Agent Project. Joan is working with seven schools that are developing strong universal learning environments in their schools. Each of the schools has a slightly different focus on how to develop these inclusive learning environments. Some of the possible topics that are being explored include personalization of learning, learner profiles, student portfolios, emerging technologies that support learning and comprehensive learning supports for improved literacy. To find out more about any of these projects contact Rocky View Schools!