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Innovation That Sticks Case Study Report: Ottawa Catholic School Board

Leading and Learning for Innovation, A Framework for District-Wide Change

(5.56 MB / pdf)

You can access a multimedia version of the Executive Summary, which includes several interview videos.

A CEA Selection Jury chose the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) out of 35 School District applicants from across Canada to participate in the 2015 ‘Innovation that Sticks’ Case Study Program. From September to December 2015 – through an Appreciative Inquiry interview process – the CEA researched how the OCSB has transformed its classrooms into 21st century environments that meet the needs of all learners.

The OCSB currently serves approximately 40,000 students in 83 schools across the City of Ottawa; a staff of more than 2,400 teachers and administrators, and 1,500 support staff, guide quality Catholic education.

With the conversion of libraries to Learning Commons, increasing broadband, universal Wi-Fi availability and equitable Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies, the OCSB has created a digital learning ecosystem focusing on collaboration, creativity and critical thinking among all of its 83 schools.

The CEA Selection Jury of Canadian innovation leaders was most impressed with how the OCSB leads with a focus on learning and teacher support first, followed by the technology. This School Board has been implementing their innovative strategy over a number of years, incorporated all partners – including teacher unions and support staff – and built a budget in support of this collective vision, with ongoing parent and student voice that continue to inform these changes.

The OCSB’s comprehensive Blueprint for Change — Towards 2020, Connecting with our Students provides a laptop to every teacher and principal. This 1:1 technology investment is complemented by a major professional learning focus that represents an important cultural shift across the Board to enable teachers to shift their practice to differentiated instruction, which has resulted in increased student achievement. Restrictive policies were removed to allow teachers to model digital citizenship by actively participating in social media. Every student in the Board receives yearly instruction on digital citizenship, integrated into the curriculum.

The OCSB’s leadership is very proud of how their staff has embraced technology to support student learning. They use social media and a variety of apps to share effective practice professionally and are connecting learning to students’ real lives, ensuring relevance to their interests and needs.

The OCSB received a $10,000 contribution courtesy of initiative sponsors State Farm Canada to grow its promising programs and practice. Board representatives shared “lessons learned” with CEA researchers about the conditions and processes that led to the beginning of this expandable innovation throughout their classrooms and schools.

This case study report provides concrete guidance and information resources to support other School District leaders faced with the challenge of determining how they can get their own ‘innovations to stick’ and achieve their goals.

For more details about this program.