Frequently Asked Questions

Idea Exchange - Building Brighter Futures Together

We are setting priorities for the next four years and we want to know what is important to you.  We will be using Thoughtexchange, an online learning tool that allows parents, staff, students and community members to have a conversation about learning and well-being. Between November 21st and December 12th we will host a community conversation called “Building Brighter Futures Together” using Thoughtexchange, an online discussion tool.  The OCDSB has used Thoughtexchange for several consultations and it has significantly increased participation - allowing more voices to be heard and leading to better informed decision-making.

Participants were asked three open ended questions - what we do well; where we can improve; and what priorities are important to learning and well-being. Participants also reviewed thoughts that were shared by others and starred the ideas that they liked best. Thoughts were shared anonymously - no names were attached to the thoughts shared. The online conversation was moderated to ensure it was respectful to everyone.  

Who Participates in the Conversations?

There were separate conversations:  parents and community members; staff; and for students.  The conversations were separated by elementary and secondary panels.  This allowed people with common interest and experiences to be involved in the conversation. To facilitate the size of the conversations, the exchanges were structured as follows: 


(3 exchanges - approx 10,000 invitees)


(9 exchanges - approx 70,000 invitees)


(2 exchanges - approximately 25,000 invitees)

Staff participated in either an elementary, secondary or central conversation. All staff in employee groups in that panel participated in one exchange. Staff who were centrally assigned participated in a third exchange.

-District Office & Centrally Assigned

Parents/Guardians participated in an elementary and/or a secondary conversation. To make the size manageable, each of those were sub-divided into 4 conversations - Elementary 1, 2, 3, 4 and Secondary 1, 2, 3, 4.  These were organized alphabetically by school name (A-C, D-I, J-Q, R-Z).

Elementary – 1
Elementary – 2
Elementary – 3
Elementary – 4

Secondary - 1
Secondary - 2
Secondary - 3
Secondary - 4

Community members participated in a separate conversation.

Community Members

Students participated in one of two student conversations:

Students - Grade 7-8
Students - Grade 9-12

Community Members

All participants received an invitation and several reminder emails.  Anyone who did not receive an invitation joined the conversation by following these instructions

How does it work?  

The consultation was built around three questions.   The questions are open-ended and you were able to share as many thoughts as you'd like. You were also be able to read the thoughts shared by other parents and guardians and identify which ideas were most important to you.

What is Thoughtexchange?

Thoughtexchange is an online learning tool that allows us to reach out to everyone affected by the decisions made by the OCDSB.  There are three steps for participants:

  1. Share your thoughts – answer 3 open-ended questions about learning and well-being; 
  2. Star thoughts – review ideas from other parents and guardians and rate the ideas you like best
  3. Discover – learn what ideas are most important to the community as a whole

This helps the OCDSB understand what is important to everyone in the community.

Can People Participate in Another Language?

Yes, there are 2 options.  You can participate in Thoughtexchange in  English, French or Spanish.  You can participate in other languages by texting “hello” in your language to 728-55 then enter the 9-digit code given for the exchange. The system will then communicate in your language.  Note, you need to have your mobile phone keyboard enabled in that language and your cell plan must enable SMS for premium and short numbers. 

Can People participate if they do not have a computer or cellphone?

Yes.  There are several ways to do this – you can speak with your child’s principal to arrange to use a computer at the school; you can access a device at the Family Reception Centre; you can access a computer at the public library; you can speak with your trustee; you can send your thoughts to us in writing or you can call us directly for help at 613-596-8211 ext 8402.

Why Participate?

By sharing your ideas, you get to help set the direction for our schools for the next 4 years. In 2014, over 13,500 people participated in a Thoughtexchange conversation to develop our current strategic planThat feedback resulted in the development of our current strategic plan which has five priority areas – Learning, Equity, Well-Being, Engagement, and Stewardship.  In 2014, we heard very positive feedback about the quality of our staff, We also heard about the need for investment in our schools and facilities. Since that time, we have invested over $300M in school renewal, renovations, expansions and new construction. You can learn more about the progress we have made on our current plan in this  report.

Your ideas will help us to Build a Brighter Future Together @OCDSB.

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