March 1998

Celebrating Ontario Teachers’
Internet-Based Projects
Teachers on the

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By Margaret Hamilton and Doug Walker

Since the Internet appeared in Canadian schools, Ontario teachers have made many contributions to its innovative use in the classroom.

Ontario teachers had a head start thanks, in part, to the Ontario Teachers’ Federation’s Creating a Culture of Change (3Cs) project. An exciting change catalyzed by the 3Cs project was the early development, by teachers, of a spectacular electronic network.

The network quickly evolved into a province-wide collaborative culture – a culture of innovation. Now, powerfully linked together and no longer isolated in classrooms, teachers in Ontario were suddenly sharing new ideas … on-line. Over 100 moderated conferences gave educators, from classroom teachers to superintendents to university professors to MET officials, an opportunity to "talk" with one another.

The World Wide Web descendent of this communications innovation by Ontario teachers is the Education Network of Ontario (ENO), also teacher-designed. Both in its comprehensiveness and in its vigilant attention to excellence in teaching, ENO is a unique education resource and the envy of educators in many countries.

Ontario Teachers Leading the Way

Ontario teachers have been in the forefront in Canada in the development of sound classroom applications for new technologies. Many of the innovations have been rapidly adopted by educators across the country. For example, publishing students’ creative writing for a real audience is a much greater incentive to students than merely getting good marks. So, Michael McCarthy created "Children’s Voice" on SchoolNet. It publishes creative writing by children, while urging adults to value children’s thoughts and ideas.

Soon after "Children’s Voice" began, Diane Hammond, Marjan Glavac, and Jim Robertson, all Prime Minister’s Award winners, pioneered "News Ontario," a province-wide resource that publishes the works of student journalists. "News Ontario" received a Nortel Institute Award for its well-crafted pedagogical design.

In 1995, six young, newly graduated teachers from Queen’s University and education professor William J. Egnatoff created the "SchoolNet Support Teachers Project." This project brings a team of young Internet-savvy teachers on site to help busy teachers in their classrooms.

Queen’s student-teachers are energetically leading the way in many Ontario schools. They are designing and running GrassRoots projects, setting up on-line courses for high school students, developing school web sites, offering workshops in board teacher resource centres, and collaborating in designing projects with Statistics Canada and Ontario museums.

Through ENO-based projects, many Ontario teachers are exploring cutting-edge technologies. Greg Rundle is helping Wingham students broadcast their school’s radio station live over the Internet. Stephen MacKinnon has developed ways on his web site to allow student musicians to publish their music.

Web Sites Worth a Look

ENO [] features many projects for beginners to advanced Internet users. Each project is thoroughly supported by a moderated interactive electronic conference.

Canada’s SchoolNet provides a number of unique resources to teachers, all of which are accessible from its home page . Ontario teacher-designed, SchoolNet’s GrassRoots program publishes many innovative projects by Ontario teachers.

A great source of ideas for new projects is SchoolNet’s Digital Collections, which makes over 100 rare collections of artworks, photographs and documents available on the World Wide Web.

The Prime Minister’s Awards site (also accessible from SchoolNet’s main page) links to all kinds of award programs teachers can apply for. To check out the many projects by Ontario teachers appearing exclusively on non-Canadian sites, point your web browser at "Pitsco’s Launch to On-Line Collaborative Projects" . It contains links to over 80 sites featuring on-line projects.

St. Elizabeth Elementary School in Ottawa [] displays breathtaking web-based projects entirely researched, designed and programmed by award-winning teacher Dalia Naujokaitis and her Grade 6 students. Take a look especially at "Learning: the Next Generation" and its astonishingly sophisticated student designs for schools of the future.

John Paul II High School in London [] promotes excellence and accountability in student research. Check out Jon McGoey’s GrassRoots project: a field survey of the Thames River which shows students considering the social, political, economic, technical and ideological dimensions of the nature of science in relation to what they are discovering while doing their research.

OISE’s MOO [] , or MOOkti, is an education-focused MOO (MUD Object Oriented, where MUD means Multiple User Dimension) that exists to provide space and support for teachers and learners who wish to explore topics or collaborate on projects virtually.

Other Teacher-Driven Web Sites

The College web editor has suggested some other sites that are well worth a visit.

Room 108
Created and maintained by John Rickey, a Grade 1 and 2 teacher in Haliburton, this site has some fabulous interactive applications. Animation and sound abound. Storybooks, math questions, games and face painting using Java applets make up this fun-to-use site.

Bonaventure Meadows Public School
Teacher Marjan Glavac, a K–8 computer teacher at Bonaventure Meadows Public School in London includes student home pages, teacher home pages, the Meadow News (an on-line student newspaper) and student book reports, among other things.

Alan L. Brown’s Websites for Kids
In all the hype surrounding the ’net and the negative impact it will have on books, teacher-librarian Alan L. Brown has created a fabulous resource for kids who happen to love books. Brown, who teaches at Havenwood School in Mississauga, has designed his site with kids in mind.

Margaret Hamilton and Doug Walker are Ottawa teachers, as well as writers and educational consultants with Canada’s SchoolNet.