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Tech Class

Empowering modern learners across the board

The Peel District School Board (PDSB) creates a tech-based framework for next-gen education to help prepare students for the future.

By Stefan Dubowski
Photos: Mark Orszulak; Background: iStockphoto

A photo of Lawrence De Maeyer, Claudine Scuccato and Adrian Graham from the Peel District School Board.
PDSB’s Lawrence De Maeyer, OCT, Claudine Scuccato, OCT, and Adrian Graham, OCT.

The Challenge: Modernize learning to help students get the skills to succeed.

The Solution: Create a schoolboard- wide framework for modern learning with a focus on technology and innovation.

Lessons Learned: PDSB is implementing a new framework that combines technology with the latest teaching methods to prepare students for the future. Dubbed Empowering Modern Learners, it calls on teachers and administrators to help students innovate, think critically and learn to learn — all with the aid of technology.

It’s the result of broad consultation with Peel’s administrators, teachers, parents and students, says Lawrence De Maeyer, OCT, PDSB’s acting superintendent of education and modern learning. After the board installed a number of technologies, the committee in charge of that work started considering the broader instructional implications of technology in education.

Consulting with educational experts — as well as guidelines such as Towards Defining 21st Century Competencies for Ontario by the Ministry of Education — PDSB concluded it needed a new approach: a system to help students think critically and creatively, a platform for innovation, and a way to make teamwork and global citizenship central to education.

In 2016, PDSB encapsulated its thoughts in Empowering Modern Learners: Inspire, Innovate, Ignite ( peelEML). In this document, the board explains why the new framework is needed, and how it affects various aspects of the educational process.

The board believes it needs committed leaders and dedicated resources to make the modern-learners framework succeed. So PDSB created new administrative positions, including a principal of modern learning and a superintendent of curriculum and instruction support services, to steward implementation. The organization also established modern learning resource teachers (MLRTs). MLRTs travel to schools to help other teachers bring modern learning to life.

In addition, PDSB developed a website (and a podcast, which is free from iTunes) where teachers can showcase what they’re doing with modern learning to inspire one another. “We need teachers to own their own learning, just like we need students to own their learning,” says Claudine Scuccato, OCT, acting co-ordinating principal of modern learning.

Observations: PDSB recently convened a conference for parents on modern learning, which nearly 1,400 people attended. “They really understand that learning is changing,” says Adrian Graham, OCT, superintendent of curriculum and instruction support services. Teachers are blogging about their experiences, and the board is rolling out module-workshops to get others into the mindset. Next step: Peel, has identified some 257 classroom teachers who, along with administrators, will undergo specialized training that they can use to train others.

The College’s professional advisory Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media ( guides members’ professional judgment in the use of technology.

Helpful Hint: Technology plays an important part in Peel District School Board’s new educational framework, but technology isn’t the point. The framework focuses on education first and technology as a support. Check it out at

You Can Do It, Too!

Steps to take:

  1. Read PDSB’s document Empowering Modern Learners: Inspire, Innovate, Ignite at
  2. Follow #Peel21st on Twitter to see what teachers are doing to empower modern learners in their classrooms.
  3. Consult your community: meet with teachers, administrators, parents and students to find out what they think about the future of education and the role of technology.