The Government of Nunavut and Cisco Canada officially launched Connected North to showcase innovations in technology-enhanced learning with the aim of engaging students more deeply in the study of science. The virtual education program utilizes Cisco TelePresence® and Partners in Research’s VROC (Virtual Researcher on Call) program for schools.
Together with Professor Celia Haig Brown, Professor Ron Owston completed an evaluation of Cisco’s Connected North Pilot Project, which took place during the 2013-14 academic year at Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik Middle School in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The pilot used Cisco TelePresence to bring an immersive virtual learning program focused primarily on science education into three Intermediate division classes at the school. Remote science educators and researchers delivered presentations and demonstrations to the classes in Expert Sessions, which were run on a recurrent basis over the school year. In addition, several Classroom Connect sessions were held that enabled students to connect with peers in southern parts of Canada to engage in cultural exchanges and learn from one another. This report documents the outcomes of the evaluation and offers recommendations for enhancing the project.
Methods of data collection employed included interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, observations, and field notes. During visits held in November and May, interviews were conducted with each of the pilot project teachers as well as the Vice Principal regarding their experiences with and perspectives on Connected North. Small focus groups with 4-6 students from each of the participating classes (Grade 6, 7 and 8) were also conducted to better understand students’ perceptions of the program’s strengths and limitations. A student questionnaire was also administered to the three participating classes. Archived Expert Sessions and Classroom Connect sessions, as well as sessions scheduled during the November and May visits were observed and analyzed.