Teaching with technology is a good thing, and no one knows it better than Janet Murphy.
The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) has awarded Murphy, director of York’s Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning (ABEL) on applied research program in the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, an Outstanding Service Award.
Under Murphy’s leadership, ABEL’s team has worked with teachers in more over 100 YRDSB schools to help them better understand and integrate technology’s research impacts into their curriculum. Any teacher in York Region’s public district can become part of ABEL; the program is also active in the Toronto, Simcoe County and Upper Grand District School Boards.
Right: Janet Murphy
“We work with teachers from kindergarten to Grade 12 across disciplines to help them to best use technology to support their curriculum goals in the classroom,” said Murphy, who received her award on April 25 at the YRDSB’s annual Awards Evening.
This support includes extending the reach of university research and expertise into high school classrooms. For example, Science Rendezvous, an interactive learning event led by the Faculty of Science & Engineering in May, was made accessible to schools across York Region through the ABEL program. Through the effective use of video conferencing, collaborative technologies and streamed on-demand video, the ABEL platform distributed the event’s science content, making it available for classroom use.
ABEL also provides technical support and facilitation to support and enhance YRDSB teachers’ professional learning through a blended learning program. Leveraging interactive technologies, ABEL delivers professional learning to the classroom or school in a variety of online formats, including real-time and/or asynchronous transmission.
“The advantage to ABEL’s approach is that it allows teachers to engage in their individual learning at a time and place convenient to them, apply their learning and then re-visit the archived session as needed. This collaborative approach allows participants to gain feedback from the group about what worked and what didn’t, and continuously improve their practice,” says Murphy. “For example, York’s Faculty of Education recently ran a session on teaching mathematics that was streamed live and archived to ensure teachers wanting the latest numeracy pedagogy had flexible ways to access the material.”
Outstanding Service Awards reflect the YRDSB’s commitment to quality, service and teamwork. The recipients – who may include individuals, teams or departments – provide extraordinary service that has had a positive impact on the school board’s efforts to achieve its mission and goals.
Typically, those recognized have introduced positive change, significant and permanent improvements to the organization, and/or positively influenced individuals or teams around them to make great contributions.
“Janet received the Outstanding Service Award for her ongoing leadership, vision and commitment to mobilizing new knowledge for 21st-century system change,” said John Steh, manager of Leadership Development, YRDSB. “Her team’s approach has led to new organizational structures and system change, and is an excellent example of social innovation initiated by the District’s participation in the ABEL program.”
”Janet’s recognition reflects her strong leadership and the success of the entire ABEL team. ABEL’s niche is staying ahead of the technology curve in making York’s research in ICT, pedagogy and digital media accessible to the education community from kindergarten through to Grade 12,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation. “Through the partnership with ABEL, the YRDSB has continually demonstrated their commitment to seeking out best pedagogical practices while ensuring teachers have access to the latest professional development. For York, ABEL provides an institutional platform to move the latest research out to schools while helping to attract the best high school students to programs.”
About the ABEL Program at York University
Launched with funding support from CANARIE, Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network, to a consortium led by Shapson, ABEL has nearly 10 years of experience helping teachers to make better use of technology. Through public and private sector partnerships and networks, ABEL has gained national recognition as a research-based authority and leader on the effective use of existing and emerging information communication technologies (ICT) within new models of teaching, learning, training and collaboration.
ABEL’s combination of networks, partnerships and research focus drive institutional transformation and create new opportunities:
- Facilitates community outreach for researchers interested in working with public school boards.
- Demonstrates the value of inter-institutional and jurisdictional collaboration by providing research and outreach platforms.
- Leads the effective use of technology in teaching, training and learning environments.
- Provides a platform for applied research, along with expertise into the effective use of interactive and collaborative technologies.
ABEL’s partners include the York Region District School Board, the Ministry of Education’s Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, the Learning Connections Project (including more than 10 school boards), ORION, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Canadian Space Agency, the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Ontario College of Art & Design University and many others.
By Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer