Online schooling
NWT high school students gain online course access

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 29/00) - NWT high school students will have more online course to choose from next year.

Jake Ootes, minister of Education, Culture and Employment and Cathy Faber, of the Calgary Board of Education, signed a memorandum of understanding May 24 in Yellowknife, which will allow Northern students access to more than 30 online courses developed in accordance with the Alberta curriculum.

"The potential for this new initiative is immense," Ootes said in a statement.

"Students now have an opportunity to augment their studies with courses previously unavailable in their communities.

"WebCT allows students to study online, at their own pace, with the support of a trained teacher facilitator."

Web curriculum tools (WebCT) is the most popular method of delivering online courses in North America, according to an ECE press release.

"Over 90 per cent of students can live at home and be supported by parents, teachers and the community," Ootes said at the MOU signing.

Ten teachers from NWT communities will be trained this summer at the Summer Teaching and Learning Institute in Calgary, enabling them to facilitate online courses in the fall. Ootes said other teachers will likely attend the training program in September and October.

"We are delighted to have reached an agreement for WebCT course delivery in the NWT," said Faber.

"We are looking for partners in education to help us develop and expand our WebCT program. The GNWT is looking for ways to enhance and expand the amount of material available for students online."

Earlier this year, online studies were introduced to NWT schools in a pilot project for Kakisa, Hay River, Norman Wells and Yellowknife. The new courses will be available in 30 schools throughout the NWT.

Courses that will be offered have been developed by teachers from the Calgary Board of Education. The Calgary teachers will teach the courses (online) with student support provided by trained teachers in the NWT.

Some of the 30 courses being taught this year include pure math 10 and 20, social studies 10, 20, 30, 33, and chemistry 20 and 30. ECE expects there will be 300 courses -- more than enough to meet high school graduation requirements -- available the following year.

Students will be required to complete a computer readiness program -- info highway 1090 -- prior to registering for the courses.

The ECE, at this time, is uncertain about the total cost of the program.

"Our best guess is that the program will cost between $100,000 to $200,000 this year, but that's subject to change," said Mark Cleveland, deputy minister of ECE.