Virtual School Meanderings

January 18, 2011

Aboriginal Focused Programs in Canada

More than a week ago, I got the following mention in Twitter:

This is actually a topic that I’ve discussed in the past on this blog, but never in a specific manner (i.e., various entries on the topic, but nothing that brings it all together).  So I promised Angela that I would post an entry last week about this, but the week just got away from me.

To the best of my knowledge there are four aboriginal focused K-12 online learning programs in Canada:

  1. Keewaytinook Internet High School (Ontario)
  2. Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate (Manitoba)
  3. Credenda Virtual School (Saskatchewan)
  4. Sunchild E-Learning Community (Alberta)

In the past I have posted entries about reports that have been published focused on these programs:

In addition, the last two editions of the State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada reports have included content related to these aboriginal programs.

  • 2010 edition
    • Brief Issue Paper – Keewaytinook Internet High School: Moving first Nation Students ahead with Technology in Ontario’s Remote North (pp. 14-17)
    • Vignette – Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate (p. 46)
    • Vignette – Credenda Virtual High School (p. 48)
  • 2009 edition
    • Vignette – Keewaytinook Internet High School (p. 30)

Beyond these four programs, there have been several publications and presentations focused upon the provision of K-12 distance education primarily to an aboriginal population in Canada:

These are all of the K-12 online learning resources focused on Canada’s aboriginal population that I am aware of.  For those who have a more direct involvement in this community, am I missed any?

Also, for my readers south of the 49th parallel, are there any K-12 online learning programs or resources in the United States specifically focused on Native Americans?  I am aware of the Fort Washakie High School (FWHS)/Wyoming e-academy of Virtual Education (WeAVE), but that is really the only one that immediately comes to mind.

June 28, 2010

Report: Optimizing The Effectiveness Of E-Learning For First Nations

One of my fine colleagues here north of the forty-ninth, Vince Hill (principal of Credenda Virtual School), alerted me this past week to the following report.

Optimizing the Effectiveness of E-Learning for First Nations

This report looks at how to optimize the effectiveness of e-learning to improve the educational outcomes of First Nations people living on a reserve.

Report by Ashley Sisco
The Conference Board of Canada, 43 pages, May 2010

Document Highlights:
E-learning can help close the education gap between First Nations people living on a reserve and Canada’s non-Aboriginal population. Based on a brief literature review and interviews, this report found that optimizing the effectiveness of e-learning in improving the educational outcomes of First Nations people living on a reserve requires: better engagement of First Nations in e-learning program development and implementation; the development of an e-learning strategy; an increase in funding amounts and the extension of funding terms for e-learning; the assessment of community needs and educational outcomes; building tools and capacity to support e-learning; the development of a strategy to improve teacher engagement; consideration of generational differences among students; the promotion of student commitment; the expansion and increased flexibility of programs, with holistic program delivery; and better integration of e-learning under the overall Indian and Northern Affairs Canada education umbrella.

To view this page and the link to the report, go to

Credenda is one of four aboriginal K-12 online programs in Canada – the others are Keewaytinook Internet High School, Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate, and Sunchild E-Learning Community.  As some of you may recall, I’ve written about Sunchild (see Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community and Follow-Up: Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community), along with Credenda (see Elluminate Newsline – December 2008 and Canadian Virtual School Focused On Aboriginal Students Received $2 Million Donation) – plus Keewaytinook was the focus of the vignette from Ontario in the 2009 State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada (see page 30).  However, the Wapaskwa is knew to me – so I’m going to have to spend some time learning about this program.

May 12, 2009

Guest Blogger: CNIE 2009 – Keewaytinook Internet High School; Secondary Online Programming For First Nation Learners In Remote Locations

So, the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education is holding their 2009 annual conference right now in Ottawa, Ontario.  I saw dcannell post the following on Twitter:

twitterWhich reminded me that the conference was occurring, so I tweeted back:

@dcannell If I could impose, any chance you could attend these four sessions – – and then blog about them? #CNIE

Well, within a few minutes cellodav posted this as a comment to my entry K-12 Online Learning At CNIE 2009. However, to highlight this comment, I wanted to upgrade this comment to an entry of its own.

My notes from the presentation – hope they’re not too fragmented or detailed

Keewaytinook Internet High School; Secondary Online Programming for First Nation Learners in Remote Locations
Darrin Potter; Kevin Dempsey, Keewaytinook Internet High School

  • Use elluminate
  • Opportunity to continue strengthening family and community bonds as well as linguistic and cultural knowledge while completing secondary ed
  • Many partners for KiHS, including Industry Canada, Lakehead U, First Nations School Net, etc…
  • Began in 1999 – Gr 8 Pilot
  • Full secondary program leading to workplace, college, university
  • Special ed, co=op, trad & cultural activities
  • Multimedia, art, tech programs
  • PLAR for mature students
  • Credit Rescue and Credit Recovery
  • Research opps for staff
  • Bring in community elders, experts
  • Student enrolment fluctuating, but on positive trend
  • Now over 170 students
  • Retention rates at 60-63% – phenomenal
  • Success rates – from 16% in year 2 (comparable to standard programs) to 47% in 2008/09 (number of credits earned : number of possible credits earned)
  • Course completion – 30% in year one to 70% in 2008/09
  • In 12 communities
  • 100% internet delivery
  • In school with access to own computer all day every school day
  • Trained teacher mentoring in each location
  • Students have access to 12 qualified teachers, 45 courses
  • Remain in community until they are ready for city
  • Learn from and about the workd via internet
  • Interact and learn with students in other communities
  • Teachers
    • Must meet Ontario College of Teachers cert standards
    • Prepare and deliver courses
    • Teachers become community members
  • Classrooms
    • Located in various locations on reserves
    • Some are new structures designed for KiHS, funded by industry Canada
    • Some in community centres
    • Some in community schools
    • Can be in any building, really
    • Max 7 courses per year, 2 per term, 4 terms per year
  • Homepage
    • Uses moodle after trying webct, homegrown solutions
    • Very happy with moodle
    • Elluminate & adobe connect for synchronous sessions (2 x per week)
    • Includes a “student hallway”
  • Building community very important
    • Needs input from students, parents, elders
    • Student awards page, quarterly newsletter
  • Branching out
    • Supplementary courses for Gr 7/8
    • Cooperative ed
    • Partnerships outside district
      • Incl. Manitoulin Island, virtual school in Sask
    • Sharing with other provinces
    • Working with universities for research and student placements
  • Most work asynchronous, but opportunities for synchronous sessions
  • Connecting to a live classroom to demo learning – excellent stuff
  • Eating Persian pastries in Fort William right now
  • Students seem comfortable enough with the format to be willing to interact with a conference room full of ed tech strangers

Thanks cellodav – and note I’ll post notes from any of the other K-12 sessions that folks wish to send.

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