Digital Voices in the News

Students at Sisler High School are using digital technology to build learning and cultural connections with students in other schools in Winnipeg and beyond thanks to a new course entitled Digital Voices. The program, which was recently nominated for a Manitoba Premier Award for School Board Innovation, is a cutting-edge technology course that includes web design, rich media, game design/development and more.

“The focus is really about culture
and storytelling,” said teacher Jamie
Leduc. “We’re giving the students
this cutting edge technology to
embrace their culture and family stories.”
Students from Children of the
Earth and St. John’s high schools
also take part in the program, along
with a student in Atikokan, Ontario.
Grade 11 student Brittany Bryson
has been working with the Atikokan
student—Kelly—to provide support
and video conferencing for her longdistance
learning.
“I’ve been a teacher in a way,
teaching her how to use programs
like Fireworks because she hasn’t
used them before,” Brittany said.
“She’s caught up with us now. I
work with her through the classroom
activities and answer any questions
that I can. We have been able to connect
not only over the classroom but
with other things as well.”
The two students found out that
their grandfathers worked together
in Atikokan, and they share a Métis
heritage.
Sisler students have also been
video-conferencing with students in
Lynn Lake, Churchill, Cranberry-
Portage, Grand Rapids and even in
Philadelphia.
“We have what we call Geek Out
Fridays, where students can work on
whatever project they want—they
get the entire afternoon to collaborate
and share their work,” Mr.
Leduc said.
“I’m conferencing with six people—
three in Philadelphia and
another three in Lynn Lake,” said
Grade 11 student Dakota Sky-
Gaskin, who works alongside fellow
Grade 11 student Phoenix Campbell.
Dakota has been taking part in an
online musical collaboration with
his out-of-town correspondents.
“It’s been awesome,” Dakota
said. “We’ve been doing the music
with an iPad and sending it to Lynn
Lake for vocals, and we’re sending it
to the kids in Philly too, and trading
musical ideas. We all can relate over
that interest in music, the kind of
software we’re using and other
stuff.”
Grade 10 student Jorden Monias
has been using the digital video
technology as a storytelling device.
“I’ve been doing two clay animation
videos, one on the pow wow
and one on the Filipino dragon
dance,” he said.
Organizers are planning to implement
a partnership with the Frontier
School Division that will start next
September; teachers will make use
of a high-definition video conferencing
system to communicate between
schools. Teachers will upload
instructional videos as learning tools
for students.
“If students are ahead or behind,
they can go back to the video files,
and they’ll also be able to video conference
with our students,” Mr.
Leduc said. “All of these video tutorials
we’ve been doing, we would
like to launch on iTunes or the
Partners in Learning Network for
Microsoft. Students can then load
the tutorials onto their devices—
they can either watch the videos
prior to class or run them as they’re
working in the classroom.”
Organizers have also established
an agreement with the University of
Winnipeg for students to earn university
credit.
“Students who earn up to 80 per
cent on every unit and test have an
opportunity to get up to seven credits
at U of W in their web design program,”
Mr. Leduc said, adding that
the university will host the Digital
Voices classes for several days in the
spring. “One of our main goals is to
get students comfortable in that university
style environment and think
about going there.”
Mr. Leduc said that when it comes
to mobile devices and accessibility,
the potential for educational benefits
is limitless.
“There are reasons why we
should be moving in the direction of
more mobile devices and accessibility.
It’s no longer about Orwell’s
precaution—it’s more global at this
point.
“This is no longer just a classroom,
a school or a school division.
It’s provincial, national and international.”
For more information on the
Digital Voices program, visit
http://www.digitalvoices.ca/ .

Posted in About Digital Voices.

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