Local educators offered vision for learning in 21st century

Press Release

Michael Parkhill has worked with Microsoft Canada as director, Education Sector, and recently provided a visionary presentation on 21st-century learning to the Rainy River District School Board leadership.
Following the presentation, he met with First Nations’ educators and community representatives to discuss a project designed to help preserve native language.
Technological influences are redefining how the world operates and future Rainy River District School Board graduates may be competing for careers not only with Ontario students, but with those from across the world.
“They could, potentially, be working for a company from another country while living in their homes in the Rainy River District,” noted Parkhill.
Student access to technology and a focus on core competencies, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, adaptability, initiative, and ability to access and analyze information, will help students to reach their full potential for the opportunities that await them in a knowledge-based economy.
“Technology is a driving force behind this,” Parkhill said.
The Rainy River District School Board recently reinvested $1 million in “SMART” technology that will provide a greater number of technology-enhanced classrooms to create new opportunities in teaching and learning.
With this increased funding, “SMART” technology will be available in every one of the board’s regular classrooms.
This technology engages students, and allows teachers to create powerful interactive learning experiences.
After the close of his presentation, Parkhill met with Brent Tookenay, the board’s aboriginal education leader, as well as Seven Generations Education Institute reps and First Nations’ community reps, about a successful language program that used Microsoft technology to assist in the preservation and revitalization of the official Nunavut language, Inuktitut.
With his company SayITFirst Inc., Parkhill currently is working in co-operation with Microsoft Canada, the government of New Brunswick, the First Nations and the education system to develop a glossary of words that will modernize, expand, revitalize, and localize indigenous languages.
This project creates a bridge between elders and youth, and its goal is to help First Nations’ people develop more fluent language speakers tomorrow than exist today.
“Language is one of the most central parts of culture,” said Parkhill. “If you want to speak in modern thoughts, you need to have modern words, and vocabulary needs to have the capability to adapt to the changes in our world.
“Technology can make this information easily accessible,” he noted.
“I am blown away by the work that the Rainy River District School Board is doing,” Parkhill lauded.
“In conjunction with Seven Generations, you are clearly leaders.”
The board, Seven Generations Education Institute, and First Nations community reps are excited about this new medium to solve an old challenge.