As the portal to our community’s resources, edCommons has grown into the main online resource platform for many of our members. Whether they’re looking for a space to dialogue, learning resources, or policies, edCommons is proving itself effective in supporting our diverse membership. Today that vibrancy is evident in our site’s usage:
By the end of the 2013/14 school year, we had just under 1,500 members on edCommons. These teachers, principals and board members from OACS schools looked at over a quarter of a million pages of information during almost 44,000 individual sessions. Most excitingly, the length of engagement during these sessions remains unbelievably high.
This kind of participation, especially given our organization’s size, is staggering! We are excited to see this active use of our platform, where everyone has an equal opportunity to share and learn.
History and Vision
The Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools has provided curriculum publications for primary, junior, and intermediate grades for the past 30 years. As an organization that’s passionate about Christian learning, we have always aimed to create robust learning resources that ponder the broad implications of our biblical worldview right down to the pedagogy used in a single classroom activity—the totality of which we believe adds up to a Christian approach of knowledge.
Demonstrating excellence in both its worldview and practical activities is a unique distinction in our work in curriculum resources. We believe that a genuine Christian education is every bit as much the result of living the learning with our hands as hearing the story in our heads. Because of our commitment to this belief, the OACS has developed DIGS―an approach to fully knowing, based on the work of Doug Blomberg and his three Ps (Play, Problem pose, Purposeful response). Our learning resources encourage teachers to nurture student learning through Delight, Investigation, Giving Thanks, and being Still. By teaching students to know their subjects using all of these four approaches, a deep and experiential way of learning is formed within the students of our schools.
We are also proud of the first-class quality of our learning resources. By pulling together teachers of exceptional ability from within our association, our work has continued to provide the best practices and ideas from across the province (and beyond!). A deep consideration of the subject, careful editing, and beautiful handouts all attest to the professional results of these efforts. By supporting our publications with yearly professional development opportunities, the OACS (in partnership with Edifide) has made sure that these resources are useable and understood by the educators of our community.
In 2011, the OACS launched our edCommons platform for sharing our learning resources within an online member community, and also to new audiences across Canada (through Christian Schools Canada). In 2012, we began republishing of all our learning resources, beginning with our intermediate publications onto this new platform. This year, we completed the uploading of all 200+ units onto this new site in time for the 2014/15 school year, and hope to see a new range of additional units written soon.
Because the edCommons platform is the combination of both online resources and social-media, the edCommons site has made it possible for teachers to collaborate in these publications in new ways—even submitting their own activities, lessons and projects within the current unit overview publication. This opportunity has the potential to provide a working community for all our members and is reshaping professional development into part of the day-to-day experience of teaching in a Christian School.
After 30+ years developing expertise in writing and publishing curriculum, we’re still always re-imagining what these resources can be. No such work can ever be finished, but with God’s blessing, we will continue to create learning resources that benefit Christian school students and glorify our Lord.