School board achieves technology vision

The Ontario Knowledge Network for Learning (OKNL), an office of the Ministry of Education, is developing a centralized e-learning strategy for the province.
OKNL requested support from the Ontario Association of School Board Officials’ Information Technology Committee in the development of implementation strategies specifically focused on hardware and connectivity issues.
As part of this initiative, OKNL called for connectivity proposals from schools that found themselves in geographic areas that prohibited affordable levels of connectivity.
The Rainy River District School Board was awarded two proposals totalling $160,500 (it had submitted four proposals for pilots).
The first was an upgrade to Crossroads School’s wireless connection for $70,000 and the second a new wireless link for McCrosson-Tovell school for $90,500.
Crossroads’ wireless upgrade proposal was prepared by vice-principal Peg Keffer, network technology specialist William Sixsmith, and Information Services manager Stephen Danielson.
The funding will provide increased bandwidth to the school, the piloting for new technology radios, and securing a private radio frequency.
The McCrosson-Tovell wireless connectivity proposal was prepared by vice-principal Anne Carradice, Sixsmith, and Danielson.
With the funding from the pilot project, the local public board is able to connect McCrosson-Tovell wirelessly to its existing infrastructure and completely wire the school for network access.
The pilot projects offer a multitude of benefits for both students and staff. Students will have the ability to achieve their educational goals with access to online courses through e-learning.
Each school will become a learning centre for the community.
Students at Crossroads with McCrosson-Tovell will have equal access to information on the web and a greater selection of courses that otherwise would be unavailable to them.
Teachers, meanwhile, will have immediate access to educational resources. There will be no delay in internal network applications and immediate online help from support staff will be available.
“It also facilitates videoconferencing, which would enable staff to remain on site for combined staff meetings,” noted Carradice. “It would also be beneficial in such cases where teachers across the board would like to hold literature circles or team-teach.
“To sum it all up, innovation and technical skills will no longer be stagnant and valuable time will no longer be spent waiting for the next screen,” she added.
With these pilot projects, the Rainy River District School Board will see the completion of a six-year vision to provide all its schools high-speed connectivity.