AB3: Conversation 5

Implications for your own work and for a networked approach to addressing the development of writing ability in Alberta

One thought on “AB3: Conversation 5

  1. Themes
    -Writing is a process
    -It’s not just about writing [seconded!]
    -There needs to be a sense of safety to support learning- Risk, high stakes (i.e. Alberta Works funded students have their living income tied to how successful they are in their learning program, meaning if they don’t pass, they lose their sustenance, their living allowance) is dangerous for learning and self-confidence
    Skills> content, but expertize in content can lend the confidence to learn new skills (witness the Enmax writers)
    -There must be ongoing access and support for learners
    -Learning to “write” is never ending by today’s standards
    -Writing curricula, assessment, and teachings in general need to be developed in a collaborative process, engaging all stakeholders who will be impacted (especially LEARNERS!)
    -Writing assessments should support not compete with learning outcomes
    -despite students’ eagerness, just to be told what to do, assignment should encourage them to figure out for themselves (because that’s the ultimate learning outcome)
    -Educators need more freedom from exams to make taking risks viable for students again
    -Learners need a place to indicate what they want and need to learn in order to reach their goals
    -Our embeddedness in a social culture that emphasizes the economy, employment, career success-→hence (sometimes) there’s little sustained support for high-stakes learners, there’s a high risk culture that discourages failure and yet people are expected to constantly learn…can we shift this culture
    -Writing can be scary
    -Lack of self confidence
    -Fear [around learning, failure, etc]
    -Expose students, workers to opportunities for feedback ← This links to a theme we’re seeing about allowing for risk, making imperfect drafts, and marks below an “A” being okay
    -Fit for purpose of writing
    -Risk-supporting learners taking risks
    -Technology was talked about a lot, new ways of learning
    -Cooperation between different entities
    -Cooperation within entities
    -We are always talking about writing, so when we talk about writing skills, we have to think about how we use these other skills to develop writing skills i.e. do you get a writer if you develop a good thinker
    -Writing is the “way in”
    -Re-occuring theme of feedback

    -There is some connection and tension between the transportability between schools and the workplace
    -Writing is very contextual, specific to that time and place
    -Writing and thinking as a response to context

    -Need to address the difference between what the students need and what the curriculum demands
    -What the school system says needs to happen and what the workplace needs to happen
    -The difference between the curriculum and the application in the workplace
    -There are some motivators that are ignored when trying to engage people in education because they need to see the relevance in their life, so if it doesn’t seem relevant they won’t engage
    -Everyone seems to agree we need to have these essential skills, however we have different pathways to get there
    -The business world seems to expect to hire employees who are finished products or masters at their trade. This makes risk-taking, an essential aspect of learning and growth, too risky [seconded!]
    -The disconnect and lack of collaboration between educational institutions, government, workforce, and the learners’ reality is a huge gap which slows down/prevents effective transition
    -If we don’t understand expectations they will never align or intersect
    -Even though there are government plans and strategies for increasing literacy in the general population there is still not enough financial support to carry out their vision

    Next steps
    -Incredibly important to bring all of these stakeholders together (learners, government, academia, non-profits, workplace, etc.) to align some of our strategies
    -Write a white paper to take our experiences/conversations to policy makers
    -Include private sector in discussions re: needs/expectations
    -Create formal partnership group for research and implementation of new ways forward
    -Strengthen eventual white paper with sustained study stemming from these conversations
    -The emphasis on who to include here-What about the small and medium economies? They should also be at the table
    -More research projects with the people at this conference and to respond to some of the questions emerging from these discussions
    -Expanding curriculum to include various types of writing
    -Opportunities to make these ideas into action. Developing material; practical projects (hesitate to say “create policy”); community, institutional and worksite training (with worker involvement)
    -At the college and in my professional organization I have to access ‘cultural sensitivity’ workshops. But students don’t have that access. Workplaces are multicultural and sensitivity is necessary for success
    -All stakeholders-government, educators, employers-seem to have similar end goals, but have widely diverse and often conflicting pathways to get there. How can we better align these groups?
    -There is a tremendous benefit to continue to continue to have cross-stakeholder conversations like these today
    -Project needs down/up next ten years in a global context
    Best practices from companies like Enmax need to be disseminated to both educational institutions and the corporate world
    -Photo journal project, white paper, summary report, research project should evolve from this
    -Some quick resources and summaries should be developed that could easily be used by community
    -Need to have further discussion about if we continue this partnership, what would we want it to look like, who would want to be involved, etc. to be able to make change

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