“More educators and students need to be involved in policy-making at a higher level.” – Jamie Leduc, Canada

Jamie Leduc had a vision for revolutionizing his classroom. As the head of the technology department at his high school, Leduc knew he had the potential to give his students a voice through technology, which could engage them not only in practice, but also allow them share their culture and the stories of their past and future.

So Leduc inverted or “flipped” his classroom, and he developed Digital Voices, a course for students interested in Indigenous Education that allows students “to embrace, document, depict, digitalize their cultures (the Seven Sacred Teachings, stories, rituals, artifacts, etc.) while experimenting with digital media. Students incorporate a variety of materials, techniques, tools, technologies and skills into their work including photography, web design, blogging, game development and more. And take it from Leduc’s students, the class has been a hit.

“I have really challenged myself to adapt all teaching moments for students of all different learning styles by inverting the classroom and adapting mobile devices in the classroom,” says Leduc.  Leduc has created and uploaded over 240 teaching tutorials over the past school year, and Digital Voices was a finalist in the Adobe Educators’ Choice Awards and the Premier’s Award of Innovation.

Today Leduc shares what has inspired him in his teaching career, and where he plans to take his students, and himself, next. Enjoy!

What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?

My art teacher in high school, he developed a creative and positive educational environment, which I instilled in my courses.

Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?

Michael Schreier was my favorite instructor at the University of Ottawa.  He taught me photography and how to look at things critically.

Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education.  What has changed as a result of your work?

I have had many professional achievements and accolades over the past two years.

  • 2011, Sisler High School recognized as a Microsoft Pathfinder International School of Innovation
  • 2012, Digital Voices nominated for the Premier’s Award of Innovation
  • 2012, Lead contributor to the International Digital Voices Learning Management initiative
  • 2012, presented “Universal Design for Learning using the 21st century tools” to the Masters of Education students at the University of Manitoba,
  • 2012, promoted to Department Head for Sisler’s Technology department
  • 2012, Digitalvoices.ca is awarded Adobe Educator’s Choice Finalist

The achievements have lead to new international partnerships and more opportunities for international student collaborations to occur.

At this point I have three major international 21st century educational initiatives:

One is Digital voices, which is made up of two grade 12 media courses.  In addition to successfully completing this two-credit course, student with an 80 percent (or higher) and who meet the articulation agreement setup, will receive a Digital Media credit at the University of Winnipeg.

Another project is a student-led game development project with students in Uganda and Philadelphia.  They are making a sustainable farming game using Skype and Facebook to collaborate.  I met teachers involved (from Philly and Uganda) at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington, D.C. two years ago.

The third project is an international series of video conference debates on Alternative Energy with schools in Croatia, the UK, the US and Canada.  The debates have been set up through NYSERnet (in New York) and J.A. net in the UK.

How have you seen technology play an important role in education?

I am firm believer that mobile devices are important communication devices for children with special needs.  My daughter has Rett syndrome and uses a mobile device as her communication device. You can see her in action in this video.

In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?

The world is shrinking and classroom walls are disappearing, which allows for collaboration to occur using mobile technology.

Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?

All of the skills are important.  Here is a diagram on 21st century skills created in class with my students.  All the skills must be addressed in course delivery for student success to occur.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

A high-end mobile smart device with unlimited access to free course content and the Internet.

What is your country doing well currently to support education? 

Since provinces have control over educational decisions, I cannot comment on this.  As for Sisler High School, Winnipeg and Manitoba, we have a lot of opportunities to collaborate to develop grassroots projects.

How must education change in your country/region to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?

More educators and students need to be involved (consulted) in policy-making at a higher level (division and provincial).

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle has always been the disconnect between policy makers and practitioners.  This is certainly the case when policy makers decide upon unrealistic decisions when developing a plan for 21st learners. Educators’ tend to want the reins to be open to support student inquiry whereas policy makers tend to fear the “what if?”.  Unfortunately, it is inevitable that these obstacles occur.  This is due to the nature of the infrastructure setup in public education.  Because practitioners are in the grassroots of educational change, they tend to race ahead of policy makers, adding to the conflict. Although, all stakeholders in public education should not accept the inevitability of this disconnect.

How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

Many of these challenges can be avoided if policy makers consult with all stakeholders in education (students, parents, teachers, administrators, schools, divisions, consultants and so on) before implementing policies.

About Jamie Leduc
@DigitalVoices1 and @JamieALeduc

  • Birthplace: Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
  • Current residence:  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Education: Queens University, Honour Specialist in the Visual Arts, 2004
  • University of Ottawa, Bachelor of Education, Cum Laude, 1999
  • University of Ottawa, Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours, Cum Laude, 1998University of Ottawa, Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Art History, 1996
  • Website I check every day:  This is boring, but I spend a lot of time on developing my sites
  • http://www.digitalvoices.ca/
  • https://vimeo.com/digitalvoices
  • http://www.ict.sislerhightechnology.com/

Although I do visit the Sardine blog (http://fluency21.com/blog/ ) and George Lucas’ Edutopia (http://www.edutopia.org/ )quite often.  Besides that I visit www.tsn.ca and www.cbc.ca for my News and hockey fix.

  • Person who inspires me most: My daughter. She is the strongest person I know. I am also inspired by two of my colleagues, both colleagues always focus on the best interest of the students.  They are: Principal Mr. George Heshka and Patrick Logan (Educational Technology Consultant for the Winnipeg School Division).
    • Favorite childhood memory: Playing hockey with my two brothers.
    • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Not sure!  I imagine we will travel to eastern Ontario to visit my family, but if my son and daughter get there way we will be going to Disney.
    • When was the last time you laughed? Why? Five minutes ago when my students cracked a funny joke.
    • Favorite book: The Lord of the Rings series
    • Favorite music: Canadiana folk-rock.
    • What is the best advice you have ever received? Make your mark.  When you start teaching, make your classroom your own, make it a community place for student learning to occur.
    • Your favorite quote or motto: Andy Warhol: They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

Interested in learning more about Student Voice?

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