The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) today released a report about how school systems in Atlantic Canada are slow to adopt to changing teaching methods and are falling behind other jurisdictions in the transition to e-learning in schools.

The study, entitled E-Learning in K-12 Schools: The Prospects for Disruptive Innovation, examines how Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador lost the e-learning initiative, why centralized top-down “21st century learning” visions run aground, and how school system constraints – common to bricks-and-mortar schooling – limit the potential for school-level experimentation and innovation.

“Atlantic Canada’s school system is falling behind other provinces and U.S. states. Schools run on bankers’ hours limit access and stifle e-learning innovation,” said report author Paul W. Bennett. “Students and teachers yearning for school day access to the online learning universe and more scope for innovation deserve better. Online and blended learning techniques deliver improved student engagement.”

Dr. Bennett recommends Atlantic Canada’s provincial governments:
• Support early adopters committed to initiating blended learning programs, combining face-to-face instruction and online digital learning.
• Strengthen and expand existing self-directed online learning programs and “seed” new ones.
• Focus on building the A La Carte model of blended learning programs in junior and senior high schools.
• Clear away current structural barriers and regulatory constraints, such as Article 49 of the Nova Scotia provincial teaching contract.
• Build school leadership capacity in e-learning, change management, and disruptive innovation.
• Develop and test more reliable measures of the effectiveness of e-learning program innovations, utilizing competency-based assessment methods.
• Broaden the range of e-learning innovation policy initiatives, so as to embrace expanded school program choices, greater teacher autonomy, more flexible staffing formulas, expanded student learning time, and accredited, autonomous virtual high schools.
• Foster the development of more agile, flexible, and adaptable alternative schools, including incubator (e-learning) schools.
• Transform traditional top-down school management systems into “communities of schools” that provide face-to-face, online, and blended learning program choices, starting with one major urban district in each province.

“Dr. Bennett’s report shows that current education models need as much reform as attitudes need changing within centralized bureaucracies,” said AIMS President Marco Navarro-Génie. “Greater openness is necessary in order to deliver for our students the effective innovation in education and training that our modern economy requires.”

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The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is an independent Canadian, non-partisan research institute that provides a distinctive Atlantic Canadian perspective on economic, political, and social issues. The Institute seeks to stimulate public debate with well-considered argument and evidence-based data, setting the benchmark on public policy that can help our region reach its maximum potential. AIMS does not receive government funding.

For more information (media only), please contact:

Report author Paul Bennett, Ed.D
902-233-2414
director@schoolhouseconsulting.ca

Marco Navarro-Génie, PhD
902-429-1143, ext 225
marco.navarro-genie@aims.ca

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