Nelnah Bessie John School

The Yukon is the most western and also the smallest of Canada’s three territories. It follows the same curriculum as the Province of British Columbia, with some additions to address their distinct language and culture. Recently, Statistics Canada reported that the Yukon was the most connected educational jurisdiction in Canada, with a student-to-computer ratio of 2.9 to 1.

Since 2004, the Yukon has maintained a territory-wide videoconferencing programme. The Department of Education has deployed video-conferencing suites to all rural communities and to several Whitehorse schools. Videoconferencing allows schools to take advantage of teaching specialists in neighboring community schools. During the 2010–2011 school year, there were three courses (mathematics, science, and physics) being offered locally by videoconferencing to 13 students in four community schools (up from one student in 2009–2010 and four students in 2008–2009).

In February 2010, a single grade 8 student at Nelnah Bessie John School in Beaver Creek began taking her Science 8 course using the videoconferencing system. She was one of only four students in her rural K -9 school. There were 22 other students in her science 8 class who were enroled at Porter Creek Secondary in Whitehorse (a 450-kilometre or six and one-half-hour drive away). When asked about her experiences, she wrote, “I started taking science 8 through videoconferencing at the beginning of February. I was matched with a science 8 class at Porter Creek Secondary School. My teacher is Mr. Brown. When I first started it was weird because I wasn’t used to bigger classes. But each time it gets a little easier. I can use camera control to see all around the classroom and zoom in on Mr. Brown when he’s teaching. Mr. Brown makes science fun and interesting. He takes time to talk one-on-one with me. He faxes tests/quizzes/notes to me so that I am involved in the class. The students are friendly and supportive. They try to interact with me and make me feel welcome. I have really enjoyed learning about science. I now think science can be fun. Some labs and activities I do miss because I am not there in person. That can be difficult, but there are more benefits than negatives to taking a course this way. I would like to take more classes using videoconferencing. I feel I will adjust easily and quickly to school in Whitehorse when I move in grade 10. This is helping me prepare for the workload, class atmosphere, and expectations of a larger school. I would encourage other rural students to take these opportunities.”