All questions are welcome. Please contact us to discuss any thoughts or curiosities.
What is personalized learning?
The BC Ministry of Education describes personalized learning as follows:
“Personalized learning is a 21st century approach to learning and education that puts the needs of students first. It recognizes each student as an individual learner, with his or her own learning style and unique gifts. It also recognizes and values a student’s own individual interests and future goals. Personalized learning acknowledges that not all students learn successfully at the same pace, in the same learning environment, and in the same learning style. This approach builds partnerships between teachers, parents, students and schools to design a learning program for each student according to their personal needs and learning style.”
What is the difference between classroom-based personalized learning and SelfDesign?
Personalized learning in the classroom customizes educational lessons to students’ needs, yet within the limitations of a fixed curriculum and learning schedule. In SelfDesign, the sky’s the limit, with children and youth leading their own learning. A BC-certified educator guides a family in organizing all the possibilities into a dynamic plan that fits the learner’s goals.
What is the difference between homeschooling and distributed learning?
Homeschooling meets no provincial standard, nor is it inspected by the BC Ministry of Education. Instead, the responsibility for educating the child resides with the parents. Homeschoolers have the option to participate in provincial exams; however, they cannot receive a graduation certificate. SelfDesign is an independent, distributed learning school. Distributed learning meets provincial standards and is directed and supervised by a BC-certified educator, with the responsibility for the program resting on an independent or public school. Learners are granted a permanent student record and can achieve, if desired, their BC (Dogwood) High School Diploma. If you are interested in homeschooling, please see our HomeLearners’ Network.
What skills do parents need?
Parents do not need any special teaching skills and can come from any educational background. The BC-certified educator dedicated to each learner provides any necessary insights into how to support them. The primary role of the parent is to encourage a spirit of curiosity and openness within the home, enabling a broader understanding of education and the ability to observe learning in each moment.
Will there be opportunities for socialization?
Part of SelfDesign’s approach is learning in community through relationships with family, friends, and others, as well as through various opportunities to connect with other SelfDesigners locally and online. Please read more about our community initiatives. A learner’s personalized learning plan may also include community and social programs organized by other community groups.
What types of learning resources and services are available to learners and families?
Each learner’s learning plan will require resources and services for its realization (e.g., instrument rentals, curriculum materials, membership fees, software, etc.). SelfDesign provides access to a range of existing equipment and services, as well as a budget to support learning plans for learners in K-9 whenever possible. Access to these resources is coordinated through the BC-certified educator dedicated to the learner/family.
Is the program respectful of different learning philosophies?
Yes—our goal is to support families of diverse backgrounds and interests, including families of faith and those with secular beliefs. However, our program agreements clarify the nature of the relationship we are required to maintain with you as a publicly-funded, distributed learning school. If you are looking for an educational model without requirements or support, consider registering for homeschooling through our HomeLearners Network.
What are the technology requirements for participating?
Families must have a computer in their home (not just a mobile device/tablet/smartphone). They also need broadband internet connectivity to connect to our learning platform with a minimum of 5mbit downstream and 512kbit upstream. We provide support for the access and use of our systems. It is expected that families upgrade to the latest available releases of both their operating system and web browser. We recommend either Firefox or Chrome as your web browser. Other web browsers may interact with our systems in unexpected ways. We assume that all families have basic computer skills including web browser use, the ability to send and receive email, word processing, and sharing documents/media.
How do educators provide evidence of learning to the BC Ministry of Education?
For children in grades K-9, educators participate in ongoing dialogue with parents and learners to match learning with BC Ministry of Education requirements. Each week families provide an “Observing for Learning communication” to their educator outlining their child’s learning pursuits during that week, including both the activities and the learner’s engagement or emotional response – concentration, wonder, delight, frustration and excitement – all of which indicate a child’s involvement and are an authentic reflection of their learning.
For youth in grades 10, 11 and 12, educators use a combination of discussion, assignments, and observations to assess the learning and provide evaluative marks to the Ministry.
Do families have to be based in British Columbia?
Families need to be ordinarily living in BC with learners having Canadian status (citizenship or permanent residency, or under parent visa), and at least one parent must be a Canadian citizen, landed immigrant or on a work visa. That said, we have many learners and families for whom travel or athletic and artistic pursuits take them away from home for extended periods of time. Extended travel of up to two years is not an issue so long as you retain residency, have a good internet connection, and can maintain your program agreements while you are away.
Families ordinarily living outside of BC might want to consider the SelfDesign Global program. For more information, visit SelfDesign Global.
Can international learners join the SelfDesign K-12 program?
International learners who are residents in BC on a student visa can enrol in SelfDesign for a fee.
Do learners participate in provincial testing?
Each year, children learning at the levels of grade 4 or 7 are required by the BC Ministry of Education to participate in the Foundation Skill Assessment (FSA) tests. No test results are linked to any individual learner’s school record. Rather, the testing is done to provide the Ministry with demographic information on the progression of learners’ foundational skills. Those in 10-12 learning are required to participate in provincial numeracy (Grade 10) and literacy (Grade 12) assessments if they are wishing to complete their BC (Dogwood) diploma.
How does enrolling in SelfDesign affect learners’ future opportunities for high school graduation and beyond?
SelfDesign’s primary focus is supporting all types of learners in achieving any and all futures. Learners who complete a BC (Dogwood) high school diploma through SelfDesign have equal access as other graduates to Canadian post-secondary educational institutions, including most of the country’s leading universities. Increasingly, ePortfolios have become effective tools for application submissions to post-secondary institutions. SelfDesign supports the development of robust ePortfolios right up into the grade 12 learning year.
With SelfDesign, learners can keep pace with their same-aged peers and later switch to another educational option if desired. Also, our approach evolves to nurture a learner’s needed life-skills, ensuring a smooth transition into adult life.
What is the process for applying to become a SelfDesign educator?
If you are a BC-certified teacher who feels a strong resonance with the SelfDesign approach, email us to express your interest, and we will be in touch with next steps.