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Digital History Project an “exemplary model for learning”

February 8, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Marni Walsh


The Ontario Ministry of Education has officially selected Dufferin’s Digital Historian Project (DHP) as an “exemplary model” for Experiential Learning in the province. Through the province’s 21st Century Learning Secretariat, the Ministry looks for models of innovative learning programs for students that embrace 21st century competencies. “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 (DCMA),” says Centre Dufferin District High School (CDDHS) teacher and DHP creator Neil Orford. “There are no other programs like the DHP in Canada.”

The province was so impressed by the Project, that they requested permission to design a video on the EDUGAINS website to promote the DHP to schools, boards and community leaders across Canada.

Mr. Orford reports that the Ministry of Education spent several days learning about the program and visiting the DCMA to watch students in 2015 and 2016 and then a full day of filming last June featuring the students and their work.

Mr. Orford created the program in conjunction with staff at Dufferin County Museum and Archives and says, “Most communities across Ontario (urban or rural) are not as fortunate as Dufferin to have museums/archives like the DCMA – innovative, adventurous and forward-looking. As well, the willingness of the Upper Grand District School Board to invest in experimental programming in History has been vital to our success.”

And that “success” has been considerable.

In 2015, the Federal Government awarded the DHP the Government of Canada History Award and, over the last two years, CDDHS has received grants from the Province of Ontario for their ground-breaking work.

“The DCMA is very proud to be a partner in the Digital Historian Project (DHP),” says Julie McNevin, Education Programmer for Dufferin County Museum & Archives. “Having the students connect with the museum through online learning and time spent onsite has provided them with skills and opportunities that just can’t be replicated in a regular classroom environment,” says Julie McNevin, Education Programmer for Dufferin County Museum & Archives.

Ms. McNevin says the staff at the DCMA “really enjoys working on museum-based projects with the students that introduce them to the different roles in the museum, enhance their research skills, and deepen their understanding of local history.”

“The growth we see in students between February and June is amazing,” she says. “They come in uncertain, quiet and often reserved and leave as engaged young citizens. What started out as an experimental two years ago has quickly become a great experiential program for students to invest in their future.”

Mr. Orford, who will retire from teaching in June this year, says it has been his “pleasure to see the enormous success the DHP students have experienced and I encourage everyone to have a look at our Program at:”



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