The Christian Education in a Digital Age (CEIADA) program is in its first year of a pilot project, and is looking for more schools to sign on for the 2012-13 school year.
Alex van Donkersgoed, project co-ordinator, says ideally the program for Grade 8 students will grow to between 40-60 students. Currently, there are 13 students involved from six Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) member schools.
The digital program is delivered over the Internet for selected Christian school students. Students participate in a series of digital media projects, aimed at a real world audience and include many 21st century learning skills.
Before the program starts in September, the students and their teacher go to a three-day, two-night training camp to get to know one another, receive netbooks and training on how to use them, and be introduced to first projects.
The students in the program are people who benefit from an alternative to traditional curriculum, are self-motivated and can be exempt from two hours or more of other curriculum per week without a negative impact on their academics.
“The most exciting thing has been getting to know these students in a very different way from what I am used to in the classroom,” says van Donkersgoed, who teaches Grade 7 and is the IT co-ordinator at Halton Hills Christian School.
He says it has been challenging at times figuring out how to do the program and do it well, and how to communicate with one another using a different classroom style.
“It’s amazing what (these students) can do and how keen they are,” he says, noting it has been exciting to work with “13 really quite amazing young people.”
Projects include creating a radio podcast, biographical video, Wikipedia project, devotional podcast, curriculum enhancement and advertisement project.
Huron Christian School Grade 8 student Shannon Siertsema is in the program, and says she likes getting to work with new people from other schools.
She is currently working on the Wikipedia project, which includes each school represented in the program developing in-depth entries.
“I’m enjoying the Wikipedia project because it’s fun to get to create a page for our school and getting our school out there on cyberspace,” she says.
When asked how the program differs from what she learns day-to-day, she says it is the focus on how to use technology wisely in a Christian perspective.
Shannon enjoys the opportunity to be creative with the projects, such as the podcasts. She recently interviewed a friend who is a refugee from Colombia.
“We get to be really creative and it’s up to us and we can do whatever we want with it and make it our own,” she says.
Administrators interested in getting their schools involved in CEIADA can contact Alex van Donkersgoed through e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
He is organizing regional school presentations in the new year where groups of schools can learn about the program.
After making a connection and learning about the program, interested schools can attend a second regional presentation in the spring geared towards parents. The student application deadline is May 30, 2012.