All questions are welcome. Please contact us to discuss any thoughts or curiosities.
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.”
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.
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. In comparison, 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 (SelfDesign is an independent, distributed learning 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.
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.
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.
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 whenever possible. Access to these resources is coordinated through the BC-certified educator dedicated to the learner/family.
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.
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 based on operating system manufacturers, and it is expected that families upgrade to the latest available releases of both their operating system and web browser. The operating systems we recommend for our program are Firefox and Chrome. We assume that all families have basic computer skills including emailing, word processing, and sharing documents/media.
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 reflections 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 reflections to assess the learning and provide evaluative marks to the Ministry.
Learners need to be legal residents of BC, and at least one parent must be a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant. 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 have a good internet connection and can maintain your program agreements while you are away.
International learners who are resident in BC on a student visa can enrol in SelfDesign.
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 a demographic snapshot of students’ skills year over year. Those in 10-12 learning will need to participate in provincial numeracy (Grade 10) and literacy (Grade 12) assessments if they are wishing to complete their BC (Dogwood) High School Diploma.
Learners in grades 10-12 may work with an ESL-trained course mentor for English and Social Studies. Their mentor will monitor each learner’s language progress. Should a learner require additional language support, they will be directed to SelfDesign’s ELL program.
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 to support 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.
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. While we offer ongoing training and mentorship for SelfDesign educators, you may also be interested in personally experiencing our approach and furthering your understanding of natural learning through the SelfDesign Graduate Institute.