Wahsa Distance Education Centre is a recognized, accredited Ontario Private Secondary School inspected by the Ministry of Education. Courses are offered through SMART Bridgit (radio), Independent Learning, and the Brightspace Virtual Learning Environment (online). Curriculum is tailored to students in the north, and Oji-Cree language classes are also available.
The Wahsa program aims to:
- Enable students to complete their high school studies in their remote home communities;
- Utilize 21st century learning programming (SMART Board and Bridgit software);
- Offer students alternative ways to earn a provincial high school diploma;
- Open gateways to secondary education through technological innovation;
- Retain First Nations culture through community-based design;
- Empower individuals and communities to realize benefits in a global age; and
- Develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for future success.
Since Wahsa’s inception in 1991, over 500 students have graduated with their Grade 12 Diploma. However, a lot has changed since Wahsa began. Courses were initially delivered via FM radio broadcast. In the past, students were given materials, and they could turn on the radio convenor to attend class. Today, students can now use radio, SMART Bridgit, phone, internet, or even television to attend class. Our most frequently used applications include SMART Bridgit for live radio classes, Facebook to keep in touch with students, and YouTube for posting class recordings. We also often use Google Suite in different ways, and we are starting to use the Brightspace Virtual Learning Environment (formerly Desire2Learn) to offer online courses.
Students can complete their coursework in a number of ways:
- SMART Bridgit courses with radio convenor: four broadcasts per week over a nine-week term;
- Independent Learning courses completed within ten months; or
- Online courses (Brightspace Virtual Learning Environment) completed within ten months.
Student-Centered Learning and Community Visits
Wahsa has 23 learning centres in the north, and most are remote (not accessible by road). Distance Education Coordinators (DECs) have an important role in coordinating the program. They monitor and maintain the learning centres, while providing support and encouragement for students. DECs also help students set up their classes and send their work via email, fax, or express (Wasaya Airways) once a week. Learning centres are classrooms for students who take SMART Bridgit, Independent Learning, or online courses. Everything that students need to be successful is provided through the learning centres. Students can speak on the radio, follow classes on SMART Bridgit, phone a toll-free number to get help, and work on computers. They can also borrow laptops to complete their work at home, and communicate using their mobile devices. We provide many options because not all students have access to reliable internet. Teachers and counsellors travel to different communities six or more times each school year to promote the program and provide one-on-one help.