Online Program Launch
START DATE: Jan. 2017
START DATES: Mar. / Apr. 2017
Email: mike /

Project Name: Ancestry Project

Project Scope: Research ancestry, in Canadian historical context, participate in storytelling and media production

Audience / Participants: Canadian students grades 7-12 , adult ESL students, and community groups

Summary: 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation and the establishment of Ontario as a province. It’s an ideal time to look at the contributions of immigrants and ethnic communities. The Ancestry Project provides participants with tools to research their family histories, and ethnic communities and understand them in the Canadian context. Students work independently, collaborate with their peers, and work with facilitators and teachers on digital media production (aka digital storytelling).

Learning Objectives / Outcomes: Students will explore ancestry websites, conduct interviews with family and engage in the process of telling their stories through digital media production. At project end students gain deeper understanding of their ethnic history, and how their community has contributed to the development of Canada’s history and culture. Participants will learn about digital media production and produce writing, web pages, presentations or audio / video recordings.

Project Development: Mike Simpson, with input by schools and agencies (particularly those dealing with youth or providing immigrant services). Program is customized for larger organizations.

Project Timeline: Development and early promotion phase in November and December 2016, pilot and testing in January and February 2017, and full program available by March 2017 (start dates beginning of every month between March and December 2017)

Participant Timelines: Participating groups will advance through the program stages (introduction, research, development, production, presentation) over a 4-6 week project period (may or may not coincide with existing sessions).

Participation / Recruitment: Students will ideally participate via a school class or youth group, led by a teacher or facilitator. History teachers will be ideal but teachers of classes such as English or Social Studies may find this program relevant as well.. A second stream will be available to ESL teachers and youth workers.

Costs / Funding:  The full program will be accessible via a nominal fee and there will be a free component accessible to all registered users. Grants may assist in broader, long term provision (otherwise access will be fee-based).

Web Hosting: The program will be hosted on a WordPress website that will have a separate access point for the educational materials (the training site will use an LMS plugin for WordPress called LearnDash). Participating organizations will have a showcase page that highlights exceptional participant work and provides links to publicly shared productions.

Technical Requirements:  Primary needs are Internet access at meeting places or home, access or ownership of computers plus some recording equipment such as audio recorders or DSLR cameras (smartphones okay for video but not audio). Media tools (software) described in next section. In situations where technology access or ability are limited, Mike Simpson will conduct activities like recording one-on-one.

Media Tools (software): Either free or inexpensive software, each solution chosen by participants and facilitators to best suit themselves. Free audio and video editors exist as do website and blog providers. Commercial options include anything from Adobe Premiere to We Video (Adobe 30-day trial or subscription, We subscription). New tools will be explored. Participants will not require technical knowledge of design or media software.

Research Component: Students gather information by talking to and interviewing family and using Internet resources such as

Misc: Mike and any other volunteers may require police record check

Further Background: The idea to merge an ancestry project with a youth digital media project came to Mike as he was developing an online course that dealt with his own family history. Scots to Canada is under development but is a template for a demonstration website that youth could model their production after. (The website is WordPress and tools are available to produce web pages like this using WP, Adobe web tools and other online page design systems). Mike’s course and website were designed and built with a high school audience and the Ontario secondary school curriculum in mind.


Scots to Canada – demonstration site for ancestry research and media production – View website

This website was built as an e-learning demonstration site and contains graphics, photos, and audio. Students may study this in the early part of the project and use it as a model or template to build their own sites. (Video or presentation may also be used for final project output).

CHE3O Origins and Citizenship: The History of Canadian Ethnic Group (Ontario secondary history course that aligns with the focus and goals of this project) – View PDF

This course focuses on the history of people who came to Canada from a specific country or region. Students will explore historical developments and events in the group’s country of origin, the factors that influenced the decision of members of this group to emigrate, their historical experiences in Canada, and their contributions to Canadian identity and heritage.

Students will apply the concepts of historical thinking and the historical inquiry process, including the interpretation and analysis of evidence, when investigating various aspects of the group’s history. (In the case of this pilot project the subject matter is the immigration of Scots to Canada at the turn of the 20th century. Other ethnic groups can be selected, as per the item below).

Note: This course is to be developed and delivered with a focus, to be determined by the school, on the history of a specific ethnic group that now lives in Canada. However, with the school’s approval, teachers may wish to allow some students to focus on one group, while other students focus on a different group.

Prerequisite: Canadian History since World War I, Grade 10, Academic or Applied, or the locally developed compulsory course (LDCC) in Canadian history