Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon, colleagues, and welcome back. Mr. Speaker, high school students across the Northwest Territories had an opportunity this fall to access what is rapidly becoming one of the most popular methods of learning available. It is online learning. I am happy to report that high school students here have greeted the opportunity to learn on the internet with great enthusiasm.
Mr. Speaker, the online method of delivering high school courses was made possible last spring, when the Department of Education, Culture and Employment signed a memorandum of understanding with the Calgary Board of Education for the delivery of courses developed in accordance with the Alberta curriculum.
Students use a web-based computer program called WebCT, which stands for Web Curriculum Tools, to access courses through the Digital Communications Network. WebCT is the most popular method for delivering online courses in North America. Students who wish to enrol in the credit classes available through WebCT must first complete an introductory course entitled Information Highway 1090.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that more than 100 students from all across the Territory took the first step toward online learning for credit by completing the introduction to online learning course beginning in September.
The completion rate for Northwest Territories students was well above historical averages for traditional print-based distance education courses. Thirty-four of the students who completed the preparatory course are now enrolled in courses for credit. Students can choose to take one of five credit classes, or two three-credit classes from the 30 courses available online through WebCT. An additional 53 students are currently enrolled in the Information Highway 1090 class.
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that WebCT technology has huge potential to increase the success rate of Northwest Territories students, because it allows them to learn online at their own pace and provides a greater number of courses of study from which to choose.
WebCT has also created a professional development opportunity for Northwest Territories teachers, because each school must have trained teacher facilitators in place to support students who are enrolled in credit courses.
Last summer, 15 Northwest Territories teachers took the facilitator training. Later this month, another 25 teachers will take the course as well. In addition to the successful delivery of curriculum courses developed in Alberta, I am pleased to report that Northern Studies 10, a curriculum developed in the Northwest Territories, will be available online in Northwest Territories schools in the WebCT format beginning next semester. This is the first of many courses we expect to have designed for online learning by Northwest Territories teachers.
Mr. Speaker, technology is changing the way we communicate. The delivery of a wide range of seniors' secondary courses to even the smallest schools through the Digital Communications Network means that students, regardless of where they go to school, will be ready to use new and changing technologies to their advantage once they graduate.
This, Mr. Speaker, puts us one step closer to our goal of healthy, educated, self-reliant Northerners. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.