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Pilot digital education enrichment program looks to Year 2

Written on April 10th, 2012

As the first year of a two-year Christian Education in a Digital Age (CEIADA) pilot project starts to wind down, project co-ordinator Alex van Donkersgoed says feedback from enrolled families has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

The enrichment program is delivered over the Internet for Christian school students in Grade 7 and 8.

Van Donkersgoed, who teaches Grade 7 and is the IT co-ordinator at Halton Hills Christian School, had conversations with families enrolled in the program this year and asked whether they would do it again.

“I have never received so many compliments in such a short time period in my whole life,” he says of the discussions, noting it was remarkable as he had been thinking of some of the bumps along the way.

For the program to continue into 2012-13, it is aiming to expand to a minimum of 30 students. The first year had 13 students enrolled from six Ontario Alliance of Christian School (OACS) member schools.

Students participate in a series of digital media projects, aimed at a real-world audience and include many 21st century learning skills. Major projects include creating a radio podcast, biographical video, Wikipedia project, devotional podcast, curriculum enhancement and advertisement project.

In a testimonial about the program, parent Heather Van Dorp mentions the impact the program has had on her son’s overall school work.

“One of the biggest benefits we see is his integration of the technology from CEIADA into his other school work. The skills he is learning are the skills he will need in his work environment,” she states.

Van Donkersgoed says the program is a different kind of educational opportunity that currently students won’t find anywhere else.

CEIADA gives students the opportunity to learn about working in a digital environment and communicate digitally through project-based asynchronous learning.

He adds in a few years from now he’d love to see a variety of educational opportunities for people to choose from, and to take all the lessons he’s discovered about asynchronous, differentiated and project-based learning and apply them elsewhere in schools.

There have been several OACS school families expressing interest in the program. Schools in Nova Scotia have approached van Donkersgoed, and he is also presenting it to Association of Christian Schools International principals on April 20.

For parents interested in the program, an introductory video is posted on the CEIADA website.

Van Donkersgoed is offering a series of webinars over the next two months for interested parents to learn more about the program. The first webinar is April 23.

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 student application deadline is May 30, 2012. Visit this link to learn more, or contact van Donkersgoed through e-mailing info(at)ceiada.org.