While thoughts continue to turn to online learning when in-class instruction is currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of digital literacy is highlighted.
John Oliver Secondary's Digital Immersion program developed this skill – where students bring their laptops to all their classes. With laptops in hand, students feel more in control of their learning and feel like they are getting a head start on their careers.
Independent-directed studies form part of the program, where students get to pick a subject of interest to them and work on a project around that topic. This could range from refurbishing a desk to having a zero waste lifestyle to coding.
Watch a video of students discussing their projects.
Taylor Ink teaches Information Technology and the Independent-Directed Studies class in the program, where coding currently takes up 30% of the curriculum.
Ink describes how coding builds resilience and communication skills. "'How do I not give up and push through? When I'm getting frustrated, where do I go?' Students learn to develop their communications skills by talking to each other and solving problems together," she says.
Grade 12 student, Eric, explains how being in a tight knit group contributes to a positive learning environment. "Everybody builds each other up. Since we know the same people, we become better friends. We also push each other a lot and grow together as a group," he says.
Ink's enthusiasm about coding permeates the entire classroom. Her own experience is a great example of how learning does not have to take place in a traditional setting. While working as an English and Social Studies teacher, she picked up coding through self-guided studies as well as through a community program run by Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools).
Watch an interview of Ink talking about computer programming and technology usage in the classroom.
TEALS is also part of the Digital Literacy program at the high school. Volunteers from Electronic Arts, Microsoft and SAP bring their expertise into the classroom and co-teach with Ink. Their expertise has helped both Ink and her students build their computer programming skills as well as learn about current industry trends. In return, the volunteers gain experience teaching and engaging with students, while sharpening their public speaking skills.
Thanks to students' interest and their success with computer programming, a brand new course is being added as an option for those in Grades 9 to 12. Introduction to Computer Programming will be on the course list this September.