Masinahikana Online School
Creating Flexible Northern Saskatchewan Online Learning opportunities
The vision of the edcentre.ca learning service is to provide and facilitate open access to distance learning opportunities for Northern Saskatchewan residents.
Masinahikana School Will:
1. Assist individuals in reaching their personal potential through flexible distance learning alternatives that that respect personal lifestyle, language and culture.
2 Provide learning opportunities for completion of high school that would otherwise not exist for returning adults and mature students in the Northern Saskatchewan region.
Background: Masinahikana Online School Initiative
Masinahikana School was first registered by Northern Lights School Division #113 with the Ministry of Education in 1987 in response to serving the learning needs of families who chose to raise children in remote locations. Families living at remote camps had access to learning support and home schooling alternatives through this service. Itinterant "Trapline" teachers, correspondence materials and trapline learning kits were part of an approach to meet learning needs. Between 2000 and 2003, community partners throughout Northern Saskatchewan participated in a Smart Communities Project funded through Industry Canada. The Headwaters Project served as a catalyst for researching distance learning needs and exploring strategies, tools and resouces to meet learning needs online. Masinahikana School added an online component in the 2003/04 school year to address learning needs of returning young adults in the Northern Saskatchewan region wishing to complete grade 10. Based in La Ronge, the ‘virtual education centre' is a partnership between Northern Lights School Division, Northlands Regional College and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. The partnership has provided an opportunity to offer a distance learning service to a wide range of learners with a variety of needs within the Northern region. A partnership steering committee provides direction related to needs within the region. In our experience, this partnership is unique within this province involving provincial k-12, Post Secondary and First Nations education jurisdictions.
Students include young mothers, out of school unemployed young adults, adults working part time or pursuing seasonal employment, and school supported students where course offerings are not currently available. I some cases, grade nine students are completing online courses to enhance offerings in their home school. Students have the ability to schedule their school time around other commitments. This has been especially valuable to young mothers who are able to remain in their home to care for their children and continue their education at the same time. The flexibility in course availability has permitted some students to work at seasonal jobs and complete classes at the same time.
The web-based learning project uses a variety of synchronous and asynchronous distance delivery tools. The current virtual classroom environment is provided through a combination of an open source platform called “Moodle” and a synchronous web conference tool called "Adobe Connect " . Additional delivery tools include live web-casts, recorded lessons, screen recordings, streaming video content and live chat areas. The synchronous tool is used for live tutoring, mini-lessons, and small group sessions. The Asynchronous tool is used for managing learning activities and the flow of communication within the learning community. Regular telephone contact is a critical key to success for participants. Local tutor support is available in some locations and students have at least one face-to-face meeting with each of their teachers per class block. In some cases, assignments are exchanged through fax and mail.
Developing Capacity for Supporting Distance Learning in Northern Saskatchewan Communities:
The Masinahikana education team have been able to research best practices in online learning, explore web-based learning tools and virtual classroom platforms and have provided professional development for Educators throughout the north (both on-line and face-to-face). There has been energetic involvement with Saskatchewan Learning's Central I-school since its inception. Through this project five web-based resource development projects have been added to the I-School web-based resources library and four courses have been taught through the Central I-school.
Web Resources Created for Sask Learning:
Online Readiness Training for Teachers | Awareness and Prevention of Diabetes | Skills for the 21st Century
English Language Arts B10 | Michif Language and Culture Learning Resources | Math for the Real World-(Project: available fall, 2007)
Other Web Based resources created through the Headwaters Project and KCDC:
Native Studies 10 | Our Very Own Songs | Firefighter Training | Metis Studies | Online Support Resources | Capacity Building for Online Learning | Headwaters Education Centre |