I first saw this news item from my good friend Darren Cannell over at Teaching and Developing Online (see entry entitled Cameco gives $2M to virtual school).  It was also in my RSS reader courtesy of Virtual School News (see entry entitled Cameco gives $2M to virtual school). Finally, another colleague, Chantal in Regina, e-mailed me the news item:

Cameco gives $2M to virtual school

By Cassandra Kyle, The StarPhoenix
January 30, 2010

When Edward Benoanie first signed up to take math and science courses through Credenda Virtual High School, he wasn’t sure how his studies through the pilot program would go.

“I was basically the guinea pig,” he said. “Everything was new to them and it was new to me, too.”

It turns out Benoanie’s e-learning program set him on the right track to higher education. Not only were his math and science skills upgraded, but so were his English, writing and typing skills; he moved from 20 words a minute at the start of the program to 70 by his graduation date.

Now 21, the Hatchet Lake-raised man is set to receive a bachelor’s degree in education this May after graduating from high school in 2006.

“When you have a teacher right in front of you, it feels like you’re in the spotlight all the time. But when you’re online, you’re fully concentrated and you’re in your own personal space,” he said.

Benoanie hopes more youth from northern Saskatchewan have the same online education experience through Credenda as he did. With the school receiving a $2-million investment from Cameco Corp. on Friday, the likelihood of higher enrolment at the non-profit institution has increased.

In fact, said school director Vince Hill, the school expects significant growth in students at the start of the next term on Monday. At last count, 194 students were taking 291 classes through Credenda, which was established in 2005 by the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC).

To continue reading, click here.

The thing that I like most about this donation is that it was given to an online program that focuses upon Canada’s aboriginal population. For those of my readers not familiar with Canadian history, while we did not treat our native population quite as poorly as the United States treated their Native Americans, Canadian aboriginals were treated quite bad. Many of the problems that exist in the aboriginal community today are a directly result of government mistreatment and misguided policies.

At present, there are three K-12 online learning programs in Canada that focus specifically on Canada’s aboriginal population.  The first is Credena Virtual School in Saskatchewan (i.e., the one features in these news items).  Another one is the Sunchild e-Learning Community in Alberta (see Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community and Follow-Up: Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community for previous entries on that program).  The third is Keywaytinook Internet High School in Ontario (see page 30 of the State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada report for a vignette on this program).  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the aboriginal population served by the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador (which is the focus of one of the sub-studies as a part of the Killick Project for E-learning Research).

Personally, I believe that this is a population of under served students where more research is needed – and much more support should be provided.  Congratulations Vince!!!

Canadian Virtual School Focused On Aboriginal Students Received $2 Million Donation

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