Connected North providing interactive learning experiences from home
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
With social distancing and self-isolation becoming so prevalent, Connected North is providing students, children, and families with the opportunity to experience online sessions that will take them on virtual journeys around the globe.
Starting on March 23, families can join sessions through the Connected North@Home Program that will allow them to experience places like the Toledo Zoo and the Royal Botanical Gardens from the comfort of their own homes, while also interacting with educators and professionals in the various fields.
“Connected North is a program locally in Sioux Lookout. We offer virtual field trips to students in very remote places in northwestern Ontario. Sioux Mountain (Public School) is one of our schools, Sioux North (High School) is another one. We have a whole bunch of schools across Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon. We provide programming for schools in remote places around museums, artists, and places they normally couldn’t visit because of where they’re located,” said Katie Burch, Education Coordinator for Connected North.
“Because we have these existed relationships with our schools, we discovered that there’s nothing really in place for these kids being out of school for three weeks or more potentially. What we decided is to switch our motto to more people, and we’re offering a Connected North@Home program. Sessions we had booked for our schools previously, that were booked and paid for, instead of making the connection directly to the school or classroom we’re now making it open to anybody and everybody in northwestern Ontario that wants to connect and learn from home.
“We’ve created a website where people can see the sessions as they get booked that they can join. You can click and join with one click at connectednorth.org/athome… We’ll also be putting out, on social media, an interactive document where they can read the description on the session and click on the session to join at the time that it’s designated to begin. We have them starting as soon as Monday, March 23 and, at the moment, we have at least three weeks of programs booked and between four and six programs per day,” she explained.
The program schedule boasts exciting content partners, including zoos, museums, science centres, and even local content providers.
“Some highlights of the programs that we have are the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta is doing sessions for us, we have the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, we have the Winnipeg Art Gallery running art sessions for us, and we also have Indigenous content providers. We have an Ojibway artist who lives in Vancouver that’s going to be doing woodland art for students. The sessions are open to anybody… There will be a chance for students to interact by asking questions at various points during each session. We have palaeontologists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, for example, that are connecting so if they have a burning question they want to ask they’ll allow times during the sessions for students, families, and parents to ask questions,” said Burch.
“Manuela Michelizzi, who’s a local community member, and Josee Duewel are both offering Zumba sessions, so they’ll be getting families active from home. Manuela is going to be doing some children’s Zumba classes during the day, and Josee Duewel is going to be doing some family and adult sessions in the early evening,” she added.
Burch said they’re striving to provide relevant content that’s tailored to children in northwestern Ontario. She said the sessions have the capacity to host thousands of participants.
“What we’re trying to do that’s a little bit unique is we’re trying to structure programs that are relevant specifically to our kids in northwestern Ontario with cultural content, but also content that will be relevant and also as much Canadian content, although we do have some American providers. We’re really trying to reach out to zoos so students can see and interact with live animals. The Michigan Science Centre is another provider that is doing experiments that can be done at home… We keep having providers, who we already have existing relationships with, reach out to us,” she explained.
“Nobody is excluded… It’s my understanding that we can have up to anywhere between three and ten-thousand participants on the session at a time,” she concluded.
For more information, visit www.connectednorth.org/athome.