Modifying Our Learning Environments


On Thursday I was able to participate in a Blackboard Collaborate session with Will Richardson, regarding the disparity between traditional school systems and the skills that our students will need to be successful in the future.

This session reinforced for me the following key ideas.

A modern learning environment should be, self organized, authentic, connected, transparent, ubiquitous, networked, discovery based and authentic.

We need to be the Designers of our own learning…. No longer a passive activity.

Moving from Delivery to Discovery Learning

Focus on the Passion

New schools are networks not buildings.

The accessibility of the internet has helped to reduce the elitism of education. It is also forcing us to redefine what it means to be a teacher.

Kahn Academy= access= learn almost anything for free. Accessing info is a lot easier. The teacher can no longer be a dictator and expert – is economics and efficiency going to take over the role of teaching or mentoring our students?

Innovations such as Mine Craft, Harlem Shake and My Education Path
will impact how schools define “approved resources”

The following are links to schools I’ve learned about, which are currently breaking away from the traditional model of school systems. This is by no means a comprehensive list. I would love to hear about any other school you could recommend.

A.S Neill’s Summerhill School, Suffolk, England,,
a co-educational boarding school is the original alternative ‘free’ school. Founded in 1921, it continues to be an influential model for progressive, democratic education around the world

Bishop Carroll High School
, Calgary Canada – this is the school where I currently work. Bishop Carroll has been running in Calgary for over 40 years. It is a self- directed school based on the Trump model. Bishop Carroll was the first school of it’s kind in Canada. It has been a model for schools across Canada and Australia. It was the founding member for the Canadian Coalition of Self Directed Learning (CCSDL) . The CCSDL holds a yearly conference in October to collaborate on ideas around promoting self direction.

Degreed is a free service that scores and validates your lifelong education from both accredited (i.e. Harvard) and non-accredited (i.e. iTunesU,, Khan Academy, etc.) sources.

Fitzroy Community School
Victoria, Australia FCS is an independent, alternative primary school. It has its own unique style of operation. Our school has a relaxed atmosphere and good outcomes at the same time. Children are keen on learning and keen on coming to school. The most common comment that visitors make is that it feels like an extended family. FCS was founded in 1976 by Philip O’Carroll and Faye Berryman in their home at 597 Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy and still operates there.

Toronto Waldorf School,
Toronto, Canada. Waldorf School is part of an educational community of 2,500 schools and kindergartens that circle the globe. One of the largest and fastest growing educational approaches in the world, Waldorf schools have supported students in over 70 countries for over 90 years.

Quest University Canada is Canada’s first independent, not-for-profit, secular university. Quest offers only one degree, a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences, and focuses entirely on excellence in undergraduate education. It was founded in 2002 by former University of British Columbia president Dr. David Strangway.
It opened with a 73-student inaugural class on September 3, 2007. The only degree offered is a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (4-year program). Maximum 20 students in a class; average class size is 15. Courses scheduled on a “Block Plan” where students take one course at a time for three-and-a-half weeks. All small, interactive, seminar-style classes, in which faculty lead students through discussions and activities.

The following are also a few interesting reads:

Sweden’s Newest School System Has No Classrooms

The Future of Classrooms

Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere By Will Richardson


2 thoughts on “Modifying Our Learning Environments

  1. Erin – so glad you got to do the session with Will. He’s amazing. I did a course with Powerful Learning Practice last year, and learned a ton. “Why school?” is on my reading list.

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