Connection In a Self- Directed Learning Environment: Learning and Teaching in the Digital Age

What’s going on inside the building of Bishop Carroll is not only exciting, but innovative, educational and engaging. Not only are the halls of Bishop Carroll High School buzzing, but inside the offices of several educators learning is taking place.

Bishop Carroll High School is a part of the Canadian Coalition of Self- Directed Learning

Bishop Carroll works together with other members of the coalition to improve the self-directed experience of all the learners. These schools meet together on an ongoing basis as well as convene at a yearly conference to look at ways of improving the model for students.

All of us at Bishop Carroll agree that we have never been in a school where so much focus and dialogue on instruction takes place on a regular basis. In fact, our staff has biweekly professional development meetings to ensure that we are able to collaborate on best practices and share new ideas. Teachers are continually focusing on how they can make things better for students in a self-directed learning environment.

Bishop Carroll has been around and functioning for over 40 years. Changing visions and learners have meant that staff has also adjusted to honor the shift.  Within the last four years, the staff started making a technological commitment. Innovative practices, sharing, collaboration, encouraging our students to experiment with different formats and technological materials has produced growth for not only students, but also teachers. Students have many choices in how they choose to receive information ranging from personal exploration of a topic, pod casts, discussion forums, Google- docs, multimedia presentations, digital learning guides and a focus on digital citizenship.

Technology has not replaced teachers, but has enhanced the learning experience for both the teacher and the student. Technology can be seen as a launching pad for further and more in depth discussions.

Three of us at Bishop Carroll have signed up for an educational experience like none other.  Seeing as we already focus on technology as part of our teacher professional growth plans, we felt that getting involved at an international level would be very beneficial. This is a first MOOC for all three of us. What is a MOOC? It is a Massive Open Online Course. We are taking #ETMOOC and are so happy we are involved in this process as it reminds us of what it is like to be a student in the 21st century. For more information go to ETMOOC

How are #etmoocers like students in our self-directed school?


  1. are self- directed learners.
  2. set our own learning goals
  3. at first experience an increase of  anxiety in a new learning environment
  4. are following a personalized program
  5. are excited about learning in a place that honors the way we want to learn
  6. are encouraged to be autonomous and have opportunities to direct our own learning
  7. are taking risks (we ask students to do this every day)
  8. are critically examining what we do and why we do it
  9. look to teachers to guide them through the process
  10. are self- paced, involving continuous progress
  11. are student centered environments with a focus on active learning, reflection and collaboration
  12. ask for HELP, and often it’s  just a click away

Today we chose to collaborate to write this blog post as part of the sharing experience. As we progress through this open forum we hope to continue to share best practice in both the teaching realm as well as what we are doing in the role as school counsellors.
Happy blogging
erin heather susan

4 thoughts on “Connection In a Self- Directed Learning Environment: Learning and Teaching in the Digital Age

  1. First let me say. I’m moved! Your school is a tech ed dream come true. I think it is great how everyone embraces technology as part of the learning experience. You are correct, and I loved the list of characteristics that most of us online learner’s and those who enjoy #etmooc have. We truly are self- directed learners. and set our own goals. That must be amazing to see at the high school level. Thanks for sharing I really enjoyed your post and am quite jealous of your work environment. You are truly blessed. For me, etmooc has helped me to focus on content and curriculum for digital identies and eportofolio’s as well as extend my network of exciting 21st century educators such as yourself 🙂

    1. Sherry: Thanks for your comments. We really do love our school .It is an amazing environment to work in with colleagues who care about kids as much as we do. Etmooc has made us reflect on what we really appreciate about what we do! Your comments are heartfelt and appreciated.

  2. Bishop Carroll’s ETMOOC team:

    First, it is awesome that you have connected to work as a team with face-to-face connections. I am quite jealous. When I start talking about MOOCs and such many of my colleagues give me a slightly exasperated look and ask, “How do you even have time for that?” Of course, this is a question I ask myself a lot too, but having some colleagues around the corner has to keep all of you motivated. Again, awesome!

    Also, I love the list. In fact, I think I am going to nick it, with all credit to you of course. It is a great example of the power of your specific collaboration. Thanks so much for sharing your contributions and collective story. Inspiring.

    Three cheers!

    1. Thanks Fred for your thoughtful response. We do feel grateful! Cheers to you for going it alone … an even more awe inspiring adventure, as it is easier to have colleagues who know what you are up to and appreciate the journey. However,there are so many online dedicated and inspiring people such as yourself. Happy to connect!

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