Video brings students together in Canada’s North

Classroom videoconferencing in Canada’s Northwest Territories. (Chris Gilmour)
Classroom videoconferencing in Canada’s Northwest Territories. (Chris Gilmour)

Providing quality education to students in remote Arctic communities is a problem not only in Canada but around the circumpolar world.

Distances are great, courses are limited and in some cases, students have to leave their families and home communities in order to attend high school in larger centres.

But in the Beaufort Delta region of Canada’s western Arctic, the education council is looking to address this with a videoconferencing pilot project.

The project hooks up classrooms in remote Arctic communities like Tuktoyaktuk and Fort McPherson, with schools in Inuvik, a town of approximately 3500 people, in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

“It’s really difficult when you have some of these small schools that may only have one or two high school teachers to provide the same type of programming to their students as you would in some of our larger centres,” says Chris Gilmour, the IT Teacher Consultant with the Beaufort Delta Education Council.

“Given our geography and where we live (the videoconferencing project) is big news and it’s a big, big step forward for education in our district.”

Students see their teachers and other students on a split screen set up in their classroom. Some students say it takes time to get used to the set up, but that they are happy they stuck with it.

“The experience (made me) kind of shy at first, but then I got used to it” said Hayden Stuart, a grade 11 student in Tuktoyaktuk.

Stuart takes an English course through video conferenceing and said he would recommend it to other northern students.

“At first I was kind of cautious about e-learning but now I’m feeling pretty good about it,” he said. “I’d tell them that it was a good experience for them.  It’s a good motivation and it will keep (them) on track.”

To listen to an interview with Chris Gilmour, the IT Teacher Consultant with the Beaufort Delta Education Council, on Radio Canada International, click here

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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