The Education Network of Ontario
A student discusses her robot with a passer-by |
in a mall in Orillia, Ontario were one ENO Robotics
Challenge event was held.
The Education Network of OntarioConnecting educators to one another and the broader community
There is no shortage of information on the internet for educators. A Google search turns up 3,430,000 Canadian hits for the key words ‘education discussion,’ 566,000 for ‘lesson plans,’ and 52,700 for ‘educator teacher resources.’
The problem is how to find relevant, quality content in minutes, rather than hours. More and more people are turning to the Education Network of Ontario/Reseau educatif de l’Ontario (ENO/REO) at www.enoreo.on.ca for a solution. Current membership in the network stands at 123,000, up from 77,000 in 2000.
ENO/REO is an independent, non-profit organization that aims to improve teaching and learning through the use of technology. It offers curriculum resources and online student projects, as well as dozens of newsgroup and web-based integrated discussion forums, professional development opportunities, and ICT, news, and professional reading resources. It is also one of Ontario’s largest internet service providers.
“It’s on its way to being a ‘one-stop shop’ where connections to the best of all possible worlds for educators can be gathered,” says Suzanne Riverin, ENO/REO’s professional development coordinator.
When Riverin became involved with ENO/REO in 1997, she was interested in the opportunity to connect with other teachers. “It was wonderful to learn what was going on across the province,” she says.
Diane Hammond was also excited about the chance to be part of a larger community in the early ‘90s. “This was my first introduction to online collaboration and I was instantly hooked on the potential of the medium,” she says. A regular contributor to ENO/REO forums for years, Hammond is now coordinator of the network’s Curriculinks project.
This project minimizes time educators spend weeding through lists of links to find appropriate resources, Hammond explains, by maintaining a manageable list of subject- and grade-specific resources with descriptions of how teachers use them in the classroom.
For those seeking more interactive opportunities for their students, there are many options among ENO/REO’s online projects.
Sheila Rhodes, student projects coordinator at ENO/REO, says, “Our first large project was the Canadian National Marsville program, which we have been running since ’95. It involves several thousand kids across
the country every year.”
Students in Saskatoon describe to other |
Marsville participants how their solar-powered
car works on Link-Up Day.
In all large projects, students are directed to a wealth of internet resources, take part in discussion groups and create interactive web pages. The Marsville program, in which teams of students prepare for the first human mission to Mars, begins with a day-long face-to-face training session for teachers and culminates in Link-Up Day (LUD), where students from across the country take part in videoconferences and share their results and digital photos via web sites.
One teacher from Port Perry wrote, “Some parents told me that Marsville was all their child talked about at home for the weeks and months leading up to LUD. It is very rewarding to see kids so excited about a school program.”
Projects developed by ENO/REO and by individual teachers are an important part of the network; however, as executive director Val Blokowski says, “We don’t limit ourselves to creating our own content. We love to partner with people to deliver their content using our platform.”
Most recently, ENO/REO has worked with the Hospital for Sick Children to provide online training at http://hsc.enoreo.on.ca/dyn/ for educators and caregivers in child and youth suicide intervention and prevention. Another collaboration, with TVOntario, has resulted in the Curriculum Resource Bank (www.curriculumresourcebank.com), a collection of over 100 hours of curriculum-indexed video clips online.
When asked what has led to the network’s success, manager of client services Lorraine Hawley replies, “ENO has been outstanding in its ability to implement technology in a cost-effective manner through strategic partnerships, ongoing evaluation of options, participation in beta testing and early adoption of open source solutions where off-the-shelf solutions were either inappropriate or too expensive.”
What does the future hold? Hawley says, “ENO will continue to be at the forefront of merging voice, video and data technologies. As the cost of bandwidth continues to fall and the availability spreads, ENO sees more and more opportunities for more effective collaboration between educators, students and the community at large.”
Blokowski adds, “Our goal is to continue to expand and improve what we’re doing: providing affordable technology solutions and meaningful content that’s going to be of value to educators.”
By Paula Boon
ENO/REO conference moderator