May 2021

Reflecting on Another Unusual Year

As another year amidst this pandemic is coming to an end, it is an opportunity to reflect of what has happened and most importantly what we have learned from it. While not surprisingly we hear lots of voices on the negative effects of the pandemic on learning, I would like to ask myself the following question: What have we learned and what would we like to carry on with us? And I think, the answer might surprise you – I think we have learned a lot and I sincerely hope, we will carry what we have learned into our post-pandemic years. For example, we realized that learning should be happening not only during formal school hours, but also outside of them and we cannot overemphasize the role of family in supporting students. We also realized that novel technologies can provide opportunities that we haven’t had before or didn’t consider seriously before. So many interesting people visited our virtual classrooms last year. In addition, many students were able to benefit from the virtual learning environments that supported self-paced learning (e.g., many school districts in BC adopted an IXL platform, Edwin, etc.) We also started thinking of how much our students can do with the smartphones that they already have. The 41 1/2 UBC Physics Olympics that we organized in March of 2021 just showed how students’ smartphones can become a mobile lab in their pockets: I hope we will be incorporating the smartphone component in the future events and I also hope teachers will take advantage of it in their own teaching.

At the same time. we also realized how much our students learn in school that goes beyond the subject matter learning and how important the school is for supporting students’ emotion well-being. So there are lots of lessons to be learned and to reflect on.

This thinking was also spurred into an invitation I received from the Public Sector Network in Canada. They invited me to present during their virtual EduTech event: Tapping into the power of technology to transform learning” that will take place on June 8th, 2021. I hope many of my friends and colleagues will be able to participate. I am presenting their as well and I hope my presentation will interest people. I will talk about the silver lining of the pandemic and how this tough year might open new opportunities and new ways to engage our students in 21st century learning.


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