New video education tool makes debut in Saskatchewan
- EFN Staff | May 25, 2016
The students at Father Porte Memorial Dene School in Black Lake fidgeted a bit as they stared at the screen that was going to change their educational experiences forever. The students were on hand for the launch of the Connected North Program into Black Lake, an event that included a live, virtual visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta, followed by an interactive literacy exploration between the Father Porte Memorial Dene School and West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver.
“It is a priority in our community to ensure the children of Black Lake receive a well-rounded education,” said Chief Rick Robillard, Black Lake Denesuline First Nation. “Connected North is a powerful way to help us achieve this goal, by both introducing students and teachers to a new world of opportunity, while also providing an outlet to share their pride in our culture, tradition and values.”
Connected North delivers immersive and interactive virtual education and mental healthcare services to remote Indigenous communities through Cisco’s high-definition two-way video communication and collaboration technology. The aim of the program is to offer a fresh approach to student engagement, allowing teachers and administrators to expose their students to people, experiences and ideas that bring learning to life.
The Connected North program began in Iqaluit in September 2013 with a single school and has since grown to include 15 schools including the Father Porte Memorial Dene School in Black Lake - the first in Saskatchewan. Connected North is founded on three key principles: customized content for each school, two-way student exchange, and high quality video experience.
“Travel is limited for the children, so video sessions like this provide a unique opportunity for students to be exposed to new people, places and ideas, and also share their culture with others to build understanding,” said Steve Thatcher, Principal, Father Porte Memorial Dene School.
Cisco provided the video collaboration technology and overall ecosystem management while SaskTel donated the Internet connection and service required to power the video connection. Cameco, AREVA Resources, and Athabasca Basin Development donated the funding to cover the programming costs, and West Wind Aviation supported the air travel required for the installation of technology.
“SaskTel has always maintained a strong commitment to investing in remote Northern Saskatchewan communities,” said Ron Styles, SaskTel President and CEO. “The enhanced connectivity and access to technology this program brings will enrich the community of Black Lake from an educational, economic and social perspective, while providing much needed services to local youth.”
“We’re thrilled to bring together so many committed partners to deliver high-quality content to engage Blake Lake students” said Jennifer Corriero, Executive Director of TakingITGlobal. “Through professional learning and virtual classroom connections, educators will also have opportunities to collaborate nationally and globally to bring the world into their classrooms.”
During the launch event, youth at Black Lake performed a traditional dance and drum song. The Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller did a session on the T-Rex and students in Vancouver demonstrated origami...all on one shared screen connecting three very diverse and distant parts of Canada in one unified lesson.