Digital historian project receives more accolades

February 2, 2017   ·   0 Comments

Dufferin’s Digital Historian Project (DHP) has officially been selected as an ‘exemplary model’ for experiential learning by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

The ministry was so impressed by the made-in-Dufferin secondary school educational project that it requested permission to design a video on its EDUGAINS website to promote the DHP to schools, boards, and community leaders across Canada.

The Ministry of Education spent several days learning about the program and visiting Dufferin County Museum and Archives, where the students spend much of their research time, to watch students in 2015 and 2016 as well as a full day of filming last June.

“The video is very exciting and we are most proud of the work the students have accomplished,’ said Neil Orford, who created the program. “The Ministry selected the DHP because of its unique integration of Canadian History and Math taught in an entirely ‘real-world’ environment – the Dufferin County Museum and Archives.”

In 2015, the Federal Government awarded the DHP the “Government of Canada History Award,” and over the last two years, Centre Dufferin District High School has received grants from the Province for their ground-breaking work. Again this year, the DHP students have been invited to act as Student Ambassadors at the 73rd Anniversary Ceremonies of D-Day, in Normandy, France on June 6th.

The DHP emerged from a dilemma that Mr. Orford says he faced as a history teacher in Dufferin – “Why would any student take history at high school in the 21st Century when simple answers to complex questions are easily attainable in mere seconds from a Google search. … Why bother studying history for a whole term to understand World War One?”

“Complicating that dilemma,” he said, “was the now very real reliance on the Internet to provide ‘facts’ to support any ‘assumption’ out there. Clearly, students needed a fuller grasp of how to research, interpret and utilize statistics. Developing a pathway for students to learn mathematical probabilities and data management through the lens of Canadian History became the strategy to solve the dilemma.”

He added that partnering with the DCMA “was critical to grounding the program in rich local history. As well, robust research conducted with the Juno Beach Centre, the Archives of Ontario, the Library & Archives of Canada, the Canadian War Museum and a host of other online databases has provided the DHP with the statistical depth necessary for our work.”

He says the students have benefited tremendously from the expertise of the Museum staff, “and beginning last year, the DHP partnered with Canadian historian Blake Heathcote, who has shaped the student research into unique archival treasures using iBook technology.”

This is the last semester Mr. Orford will lead the DHP students before he retires on June 30th. “It’s been my pleasure to see the enormous success the DHP students have experienced and I encourage everyone to have a look at our Program at:”

In this, Canada’s 150 Birthday year, “we would love to see the DHP expand to every corner of the nation,” he said, adding: “If you like what you see, write your Mayor, School Board Trustee, or MPP and MP to spread the word, and  by all means, share our website.”

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