When Ontario’s students need answers to their research questions, or access to multimedia archives or authoritative databases, they can turn to Knowledge Ontario’s online services, and the Ontario School Library Association (OSLA) showed its appreciation of these valuable services by presenting a Special Achievement award yesterday to Knowledge Ontario’s executive director David Thornley and chairperson Peter Rogers.
“The OSLA’s Special Achievement award goes to Knowledge Ontario for its capacity-building leadership and collaborative partnerships that make it possible for school libraries in Ontario, regardless of size or location, to provide students with equal access to virtual resources and technology tools needed by 21st-century learners,” says OSLA president Ruth Hall.
KO’s services reflect many of the priorities of the Ontario Ministry of Education, such as fostering digital literacy and providing equitable access to students across the province, including students in remote, rural, northern, Aboriginal and Francophone schools.
KO’s digital services include the following:
* eResources, a range of authoritative, age-appropriate collections of information, periodicals, newspapers and other learning tools;
* Learn Ontario tech help and tutorials for teaching and quick “how-to’s”
* Our Ontario, a digital collection of heritage photographs, videos, audio recordings, newspapers and other historical records; and
* askON and ONdemande, which allow students to get real-time research assistance in English and French after school and on weekends from public library staff.
Knowledge Ontario (KO) is gratified by the recognition. “I’m delighted to receive this award, along with my colleague David Thornley, because Knowledge Ontario deeply values our close partnership with teachers, students and school boards throughout Ontario. Educators at every level tell us that our digital tools are extremely useful to students, supporting them in school and in transitioning to college and university,” says Rogers. “We thank the OSLA for this recognition.”
Since January 2007, through negotiated province-wide licences, KO has turned an annual $1.2-million investment from the Government of Ontario into a suite of e-resources that would have cost individual school boards over $10 million. Before KO, over half of Ontario’s school libraries had no online database access for their students, and many others had only limited resources. Now, students use KO resources over 6 million times each year—and it’s making a difference to their education.
“Knowledge Ontario has proven to be a catalyst for change and improvement,” says Anita Brooks Kirkland, a library consultant with the Waterloo Region District School Board. “Having a broad range of quality, reliable resources, differentiated by instructional need, topic and audience, has been a powerful motivator for deeper learning and critical thinking for our students.”
At the school board level, administrators recognize the value of leveraging collaborative investment to prepare students for lifelong learning. “Knowledge Ontario’s services help Ontario’s students develop the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly high-tech world,” says John Stadnyk, director of education with the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board and a KO board member.
Parents, meanwhile, appreciate the fact that their children can quickly access the information they need to further their education after school hours. “Knowledge Ontario is an excellent choice for the OSLA award,” says Gay Stephenson, online communications manager for People for Education, a parent-led organization that supports Ontario’s public education system. “The research is reliable and can be found in one place! For parents, it’s the perfect homework helper.”
The February 14th deadline to submit entries for the 2011 Weston Youth Innovation Award is fast approaching. The Ontario Science Centre is looking for young Agents of Change – Canadian youth who are actively motivating positive outcomes in the world by creating solutions for real issues.
The Weston Youth Innovation Award was established in 2008 to support and acknowledge young Canadian innovators. It provides students ages 14 to 18 a unique channel to share their ideas and get the word out to a much larger audience. The winner (either an individual or team) is granted a $2,000 cash prize and the chance to work with a Science Centre multimedia team to produce a short animation showcasing their project. This video will be broadcast in the Science Centre’s Weston Family Innovation Centre, and will also be posted online.
Entrants are asked to showcase how they have demonstrated leadership and initiative in tackling a real-world issue, for example, energy conservation or climate change, and to illustrate the impact of their efforts. Submissions will be judged on demonstration of the characteristics of innovation: inspiration, creativity, collaboration, risk-taking and problem-solving.
Last year, Kimberly Gulevich from Fort St. John, British Columbia was granted the award. Her innovative project presented a potential method of reducing the carbon footprint of small rural households that use sewage lagoons – by exploring the use of methane capture as a way to provide energy to these homes.
“The Weston Youth Innovation Award is a great opportunity for Canadian youth to showcase the work they are doing on a larger scale,” said Gulevich. “For me, winning the award was not only about showcasing my work, but showcasing how communities can come together to benefit youth pursuing science. I not only believe that we are the next generation of scientists, but that we Canadian youth are making great progress today. The monetary portion of the award was also useful, as I was able to use it to further my education and am now studying Environmental Engineering at the University of Northern British Columbia.”
Entries will undergo a two-step judging process. A panel from the Ontario Science Centre will assess all entries in February and will then send a shortlist to a second panel of external judges. The winner is scheduled to be announced on April 30, 2011 and will receive their award during a special ceremony in May where a multi-media presentation of their project will premiere.
The Weston Youth Innovation Award was named in recognition of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation’s $15 million lead gift to the Ontario Science Centre’s Agents of Change initiative. This national award honours the Foundation’s dedication to education and contribution to the Canadian cultural landscape.