1. Description of Our Community
The village of Athens has a population of 1000, and is a great area for families. Athens is located in Eastern Ontario, Canada and is mainly agriculturally based. The people of Athens and surrounding area live close to the land and the community. People here are very community minded. They are active in their community and helping other people in the area. Athens District High School is a small, rural high school of 280 students. A highlight of our school is our unique student parliament, which is modeled after the Canadian parliament. Athens District High School is the center of the Athens community. The students and staff of the school are very involved in the local community. Our computer classes have been busy the past few years creating a variety of community web sites. Thousand Islands Habitat For Humanity is the local affiliate of Habitat For Humanity. They have build 4 homes including one very close to Athens District High School. The students of the high school have helped Habitat For Humanity several times over the past few years. Board members of Habitat For Humanity approached the computer teacher at the high school about the students making them a web site. Our International Schools Cyberfair entry is the result of this collaboration.
2. Summary of Our Project
In the spring of 2005 Valerie Kines, head of Thousand Islands Habitat For Humanity asked Stephen MacKinnon, teacher at Athens District High School if the students would be interested in building a web site for them. The students eagerly accepted this opportunity to use their technical skills to help a very worthwhile community group. All of the students were very aware of the work that built the Habitat For Humanity home in Athens.
The project started in September 2006 with a meeting between the team of students and representatives of Thousand Islands Habitat For Humanity. The goals of the project were established, the target audience was defined and the content of the site was discussed.
The students developed a site plan and worked hard gathering all the information. Newspaper articles and photographs were provided by Habitat for Humanity. The student team visited the homes to take addition digital photographs. Interviews of several of the key people in the organization and homeowners were conducted.
The students developed a web design for the site. A second meeting was held. The sample web pages were reviewed and finalized. The research progress was discussed and additional sources of information provided.
The actual work of building all the pages of the site was completed in December and January. All of the students had to work hard and commit to the project in order to successfully complete it. The web site was thoroughly reviewed by the students and by the board members of Thousand Islands Habitat For Humanity.
In the end Thousand Islands Habitat For Humanity has a web site that will help them promote their activities and Athens District High School has an entry for International Schools Cyberfair 2006.
More details of the project and photographs of the meetings can be seen at:
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The greatest problem was dealing with the information about Habitat For Humanity. In some areas there was an over-abundance of information that the students had to sift through and condense. In other areas there was little or no information and the students had to go out and find the information – talk to people, conduct interviews and take photographs.
Getting the information just right was a challenge as well. Things like the concept of “sweat equity” are key to Habitat For Humanity but were difficult for the students to explain clearly.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
This project was truly a joint effort between Thousand Islands Habitat For Humanity and Athens District High School. Students and community members from both sides worked closely together to reach a successful conclusion to the project.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
The Ontario Ministry of Education guideline for the course requires it to be taught using the case study method. Our teacher selects real problems from the real world for case studies. Our class is run as a computer consulting firm, taking on real clients with real problems from Athens and the surrounding area. We relied on one another for the skills to complete different tasks instead of receiving instruction from our teacher, as would be the case in a normal classroom setting. In this project based learning environment we learned, by necessity, problem solving and team work. This CyberFair project fits perfectly with the course objectives. Building a community web site is a great activity for this class that closely simulates a real work environment.
Students relied on one another for the skills to complete different tasks instead of receiving instruction from our teacher. In this project-based learning environment we learned, by necessity, problem solving and team work. The team of students was lead by a student project manager who was in charge of the entire project. He organized the team and carefully tract the project's progress. We also set some very ambitious deadlines for completion of stages, which taught us about the importance of time management. Some of the work like the web design and research took much longer that we anticipated but in the end the whole team worked hard and the project was completed.