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Running Head: PEI K-12 E-LEARNING READINESS AUDIT 1

Assignment Two: PEI K-12 E-Learning Readiness Audit


Mark Lamey
ETEC 520

University of British Columbia


Word Count (2916)
E-Learning Readiness Audit 2

Introduction

Changes brought on by the increasing adoption of technology in todays economy is

challenging public k-12 learning systems to adapt to the skills, literacies, and confidence needed

to be successful citizens as they choose their paths after graduation. This paper will focus on the

readiness of the Prince Edward Island Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture

(DEELC) to adopt an e-learning approach to education. The parameters of this process will be

conducted through the use of an audit tool aimed at measuring the preparedness of

administrators, teachers, and learners understanding of what e-learning is and the technical skills

required for success. To date, the inclusion of digital learning in an online environment within

the DEELC could be seen as piecemeal at best with a history of isolated adoption either

introduced through isolated initiatives from specific curriculum areas, professional development

opportunities or by individual teachers taking on the challenge.

The K-12 public school system on Prince Edward Island is the responsibility of the

DEELC and encompasses 62 buildings, 19,500 students and 1700 teachers and support staff.

Since the formation of the last provincial government in 2015, one of the stated priorities is to

Build technology capacity and engagement in schools ("Education, Early Learning and Culture

| Prince Edward Island", 2017) but this statement lacks clear definition in how it will be

undertaken to support learning. Success will depend on many factors from all three groups,

administrators, teachers, and students. Using the audit tools outlined in this paper will go a long

way to identifying the strengths and gaps of each group and the data collected will be used to

clarify how to proceed with the implementation of the e-learning plan.


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Background

On Prince Edward Island, there exists the capacity to deliver an online learning

environment for the entire K-12 system. There have been strides in the past 20 years to develop

the digital capabilities of both teachers and learners. In 1999, Technology Education for Atlantic

Canada fostered the development of a vision for Communications & Information Technology

(CIT) use within their respective k-12 jurisdictions. In it, all learners were envisioned as

developing the skills needed to be technologically literate and capable citizens who can develop,

implement, and communicate practical, innovative, and responsible technological solutions to

problems (Prince Edward Island Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, 2005).

This approach led to the development and adoption of Journey On, a framework that provided a

skills continuum and lesson plans for teachers at the primary to grade 12 level to integrate

communication and information technology in their classrooms. Independent to this the DEELC

made investments in Tevlac, a complete student management software package school for

elementary, junior, senior high schools and school districts. Students Achieve, an online

software that allows students and parents to track attendance and progress was also purchased

and implemented. All of these investments were undertaken independently with schools,

teachers, and students not required to interact with them. This slowly began to change, a 2012

Ministers Directive announced that all teachers and students would be required to use the

purchased tools by 2013 to record students attendance, marks, post assignment and

communicate with parents. A training regime was put in place to support teachers in this

endeavor. This was the beginning of a more cohesive approach to using digital tools that

provided support for teaching and learning purposes.


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In 2014, the Government of PEI announced that it was making an investment $8,000,000

in PEI schools for upgrades to bandwidth, network connectivity, hardware replacement and a

new approach to learning through the adoption of Google Apps for Education suite of tools

(CBC News, 2013). As of 2017, the DEELC is completing this implementation and this

investment will provide the backbone for my assessment of the readiness of the Prince Edward

Island k-12 public school system to implement a system wide e-learning environment.

Readiness Audit Tools

Laying the foundation for an infrastructure that can support an approach to teaching and

learning is not enough for the success of an e-learning strategy. Using technology for teaching

and learning needs to be approached with an understanding of how students learn, how they will

develop technical skills and competencies and how e-learning will allow for knowledge to be

represented through varying media modalities. Processing learning in this manner requires the

use of different sensibilities (Bates & Sangra, 2013). This new model for learning requires

decisions makers that have the fortitude to understand what is required for the adoption and

implementation of an e-learning environment. In the province of Prince Edward Island, those

decision makers often lack the experience in knowing how an e-learning approach for teaching

and learning can be achieved. For this reason, the audit tools used in this paper are divided into

three categories, allowing for a detailed review of the factors required to develop the new

cultures, concepts, and understanding that are vital to teaching and learning in an online

environment (Mercado, 2008).


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Administrators Survey

There are not many administrators that I have met that can articulate what e-learning is.

Not having a clear understanding of the vision for what is to be achieved makes it hard to plan

the path to the destination. Administrators responsible for learner success need to be able to see

their role in this process because the payoff of a good understanding equates to a quality e-

Learning platform that opens up a whole new world of opportunities for learners (Dowdle,

2006). Any hope for lasting success with an implementation of a K-12 e-learning strategy within

the DEELC on PEI is contingent on decision makers concept of what teaching and learning

should look like, the resources needed and the availability of budgetary dollars needed. With this

grounding reality, it wasnt a straightforward process to find an audit tool that addressed our

needs for a public K-12 e-learning system so one was developed from the accumulation of other

examples.

The decisions for all technology related items within the DEELC rests with the

Technology Embedded Learning Team (TELT). This team is comprised of 2 Education

Directors, an Educational Development Office, 3 members of the IT Shared Services division, 2

representatives from the Public School Branch, 1 from the French Language School board and 2

curriculum consultants. Except for the Educational Development Officer, there is no one on the

committee that has had previous experience in the development of an e-learning environment.

The Educational Development Officer is a recent addition to the TELT, having only been in

place for 8 months. In that time, a draft K-12 digital online learning framework has been drafted

for review (Appendix A). Cormier (2017) states that the process involved in the development of

the digital online learning framework was to analyze design, develop, implement and evaluate

teachers and staff in the e-Learning environment. The audit tool developed for Administrators
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(Appendix B), reflects this and places an emphasis on examining the Governance structure, who

is responsible for what role and working to have all members understand the roles and

responsibilities of others. The survey is divided into yes and no categories in hopes that a

definitive answer from participants will lead to a deeper discussion on their answers, clarifying

any misunderstanding of the plan before it is implemented.

Having a robust network and broadband capabilities is a must for the success of this e-

learning platform. If Wentling's definition of e-Learning is to be adopted, that the acquisition and

use of knowledge distributed and facilitated primarily by electronic means" (as cited in Mercado,

2008), then having a good relationship with the IT Shared Services division to make this happen

is key. This hasnt always been the case, even with an $8,000,000 technology investment in

education already there is a constant power struggle in priorities and receiving support from the

IT Shared Services division. At times it is like the tail is wagging the dog. It is of great

importance in the readiness audit that everyone involved at the administrators level has a clear

understanding of their roles in the plan, who is performing them and who they are accountable

to.

At a time of fiscal restrictions, we have been fortunate to have introduced 7000

Chromebooks and 1700 teacher laptops into the system all of this with a minimal amount of

training and support. Introducing these devices into the system without considering a plan for

how they will be used for teaching and learning seems counterproductive. Currently, the human

resources just arent there to properly address the needs of the system for this proposed shift.

Bates points out that the minimum support that a teacher requires in adaptation of e-learning into

their pedagogy would be an effective understanding of Epistemology, biological basis for

learning, learning theories, the design of teaching, learning technologies and project work (Bates
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& Sangra, 2013), this along with digital technology skills development requires a concerted

investment and cant be left to self-directed adoption. Decision makers need to realize the

parameters involved from their level, the resource and commitment, needed to make an e-

learning (blended learning, online learning) a reality. Without doing the work needed to answer

the questions in the Administrative Survey, very little will be accomplished.

Teacher Survey

The advancement of e-learning learning at the K-12 level on PEI rests with the teachers.

If they decide not to use this approach in their pedagogy to increase student learning then it will

be an uphill struggle to develop students who have the skills, literacies and confidence needed to

be successful citizens during their k-12 learning journey and after graduation. It is hard to blame

teachers in this matter, without proper support, many see this as just one more thing on an

already full plate of things to accomplish in their teaching day. Technology support received to

date by teachers in PEI has come in one off sessions either after school, on special designated

professional development days or in rare occasions during the implementation of new

curriculum. This one and done approach is relevant and useful, but often does not lead to the

strong pedagogical skills using digital technology and doesnt provide cultural change required

to achieve a transformative integration of technology into teaching and learning (Bates & Sangra,

2013). For teacher success, one of the needs expressed is for there to be an at the elbow approach

that can work with teachers in the practical application of how to incorporate a wide variety of

learning strategies and technologies depending on the learning goal being sought (Mercado,

2008). For these reasons, one approach being undertaken at the DEELC is the development of an

online portal that would be a one stop resource for teacher resources such as curriculum guides,

best practices suggestions, and other resources.


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The audit tool developed for teachers (Appendix C) breaks the survey into three

headings. The first is Digital skills. More than one teacher in the DEECL system has made it

known they just dont know what they dont know when it comes to digital technology.

Although not an exhaustive bank of questions on this topic, this section aims to gauge the

proficiency of the day to day basic skills expected for working within the PEI k-12 education

system. This readiness audit tool for teachers will help the administrators understand the basic

skills level teachers currently have and provide data for their needs if the system is to move

forward. Nothing can be assumed especially in reality of a current review of the minimum

qualifications required for a typical teaching position within the PEI educational system;

Competition number: 130036

Qualifications
Minimum Qualifications:
- Applicants must have a B.Ed; preference will be given to those with a major in
English;
- Experience at the Intermediate/Senior High grade level;
- Knowledge and experience with modifications to curriculum;
- Experience with StudentsAchieve(SAS);
- Knowledge of school level curriculum;
- Effective assessment strategies;
- Good classroom management skills, knowledge of effective teaching strategies and be
able to demonstrate teamwork and collaborative practices;
- Commitment to school community, demonstrate commitment to ongoing learning and
must be able to facilitate communications with parents.
(Province of Prince Edward Island, 2017)

There is no requirement spelled out that teachers must have a minimum digital skills competency

and if they dont have it and they are not offered support in learning them, then how are they to

know.
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One area that was chosen to be included in this readiness audit was the confidence level

of teachers using digital technology both in general skills competency and within an e-learning

environment. Teachers will often choose not to include technology approaches to their pedagogy

for fear They will break something or that they may seem unknowledgeable in the eyes of their

peers or students. The Digital Confidence section asks teachers to examine their vulnerabilities

with digital technologies.

The final segment of the Teacher Survey puts an emphasis on the changing of educational

pedagogy using digital technologies in an e-learning model from one of knowledge as content to

a greater focus on knowledge as a process (Bates & Sangra, 2013). The recent article in the

Guardian newspaper entitled Charlottetown school tells kids to put away the phones

(Goodwin, 2017) gives an indication that the use of digital technology integration into

pedagogical practices is still the exception rather than the rule. This section of the teacher

readiness tool can help both teachers and administrators understand that in the development of an

e-learning environment, adequate support must be provided in the design of e-learning activities.

Teachers must command both technical skills and digital literacies if they are to successfully

redesign their teaching assignments to incorporate e-Learning effectively into their pedagogy.

Student Survey

In my experience, there is a misconception by PEI teachers that students are naturally

accustomed to interacting with digital technologies, that they possess the skills and aptitudes to

succeed in a multimodal digital world. Therefore they can easily translate these skills and

aptitudes into an e-learning environment, In my experience, having spent many hours working

with both teachers and students in the development of technical skills to meet learning outcomes,
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students have more of a comfort level in the role of consumer of digital material than in using

digital multimodal approaches for learning in an e-learning environment. For this reason, the

main headings of the student audit tool (Appendix D) are that same as the teachers with a

different focus on the questions asked. These questions are aimed to address the tools and e-

learning environments specific to the learners within the PEI public school system, specifically

the G-Suite of tools.

Recommendations

There has been a considerable amount of time invested in dissecting the individual

components needed to initiate a strategic plan for e-learning within the PEI public school system.

With this said, any movement forward with elements needed for success has been by achieved in

isolation rather than as part of a plan as a whole. Currently, there exists an IT infrastructure

backbone that with some slight tweaking to include additional bandwidth can provide a

dependable foundation from which to build off of. There is also an adequate amount of hardware

and software for the implementation of an e-learning strategy. What is missing is a cohesive

vision for e-learning from the TELT committee so that the development of a plan that links the

use of technology to the specific requirements of a particular knowledge domain or subject area

can be finalized (Bates & Sangra, 2013). The information obtained from this audit can provide

the data to help focus the k-12 strategic plan, but I fear the major barrier to success rests with the

current complement of those on the TELT committee. There is a prevalent lack of understanding

of e-learning and a lack of effort required to move any e-learning platform forward in spite of it

being a priority for this Government. It appears that they arent prepared to make decisions for

what is required or are unsure how to proceed, this is why the Educational Consultant was

brought on board. I fear that in order to make e-learning a reality in PEI schools, there needs to
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be a resetting of the TELT committee to include members with the vision to make decisions

based on the sole focus of changing the way education is delivered currently. Moving from an

industrial model of the 20th century to one that embraces the benefits of what an e-learning

environment can accomplish.

Conclusion

There is a clear message being presented to the public on Prince Edward Island that the

use of technology for teaching and learning is here to stay. In a recent Minister of Education

press release this was reinforced, Now that students have the access and the tools, our

department is committed to embedding technology in curriculum, and to providing teachers with

good instructional strategies that are supported by the use of technology, (Jean Doherty, 2016).

To move from where we are now to where we need to be to make this happen, we need to have a

clear vision of what e-learning looks like within the K-12 public school system on Prince

Edward Island. Sangra (2017) makes this clear when he states that the vision is what determines

the function, the role and the kind of e-learning the institution decides to implement. And this

decision conditions most of the elements of the implementation process. The data extracted from

the e-learning readiness audit developed for this paper can help to provide a clearer path in

moving from e-learning in PEI schools from a vision to a viable, robust, cohesive reality.
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References

Bates, A., & Sangra, A. (2013). Managing technology in higher education. San Francisco, Calif.:
Jossey-Bass.
CBC News. (2013). PEI invest in schools $eight million. Retrieved from
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-schools-receiving-significant-
internet-upgrades-1.1362008
CBC News. (2015). P.E.I. makes technology in classrooms a priority. Retrieved from
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-makes-technology-in-
classrooms-a-priority-1.3223537

Cormier, D. (2017). Prince Edward Island Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture
Digital Framework. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Dowdle, D. L. (2006). A framework for developing effective e-learning. Retrieved from


http://usir.salford.ac.uk/516/1/Final_paper_as_accepted_by_BEAR_120060_revised.pdf

Education, Early Learning and Culture | Prince Edward Island. (2017). Princeedwardisland.ca.
Retrieved 15 July 2017, from https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/education-
early-learning-and-culture

Goodwin, N. (2017). Charlottetown school tells kids to put away the phones. CBC News.
Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-schools-
stonepark-electronic-devices-1.4005222

Jean Doherty. (2016). Bring Your Own Device project begins. Retrieved from
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/news/bring-your-own-device-project-begins

Mercado, C. (2008, December). Readiness assessment tool for an e-learning environment


implementation. In Fifth International Conference on E-Learning for Knowledge based
Society (pp. 183-187). Retrieved from
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3035/f59636fd52e3e6224c2337720c0c514fd3d8.pdf

Prince Edward Island Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture. (2005). Journey On.
Charlottetown: Queens Printer of Prince Edward Island. Retrieved from
http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/eecd_JourneyOn4.pdf

Province of Prince Edward Island, C. (2017). Public School Branch: Jobs. Gov.pe.ca. Retrieved
10 July 2017, from http://www.gov.pe.ca/jobs/posting/education/external

Sanga, A. (2017). The vision and the organization. 2017S1-2-ETEC520-66A-Planning and


Managing Learning Technologies in Higher Education-Bullen-66A May 2017. Retrieved
from
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https://connect.ubc.ca/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&foru
m_id=_388416_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_310694_1&course_id=_993
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Appendix A: DEELC Digital Framework (draft)

Prince Edward Island, Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture,


K-12 Digital Framework for Online Learning (Draft)

David Cormier, (June, 2017)


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Appendix B: E-Learning Audit Tool - Administrators


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Appendix C: E-Learning Audit Tool Teachers


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Appendix D: E-Learning Audit Tool Students


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