Making Technology Accessible For All

The need for broadband is growing exponentially among Ontario’s research, education and innovation (RE&I) institutions as technology becomes integrated into all we do. This year, when the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board in Kenora took the trendsetting step to take learning to the next level, ORION was there to provide the connectivity.

Jack McMaster is an education visionary in Ontario. As the former Director of Education with the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB), Jack championed many progressive initiatives to keep KPDSB’s schools and students ahead of the curve and well equipped for the future.

It is imperative that schools offer seamless use of technology to prepare students for learning, where learning is based on inquiry.

-Jack McMaster, former Director of Education with the KPDSB.

This is an important consideration for all educational leaders as they attempt to address a skills gap which, according to the Conference Board of Canada, costs Ontario’s economy $24 billion a year. Experts believe that incorporating more digital content and technology in the curriculum may help to address this problem.

Jack’s initiative, “The 21st Century Technology for Teaching and Learning Plan,” marks a huge milestone in embracing technology in the classroom.

Approved by KPDSB Board of Trustees, the monumental plan called on the board to purchase over $2.2 million worth of technology for students and teachers.

This will put personal computers in the hands of each student from Grades 4 to 12, while every four students from kindergarten to Grade 3 will have an iPad to share. KPDSB teachers are replacing their desktop computers with new laptops and docking stations.


All of this new technology will allow students to access rich educational content, improving student engagement and achievement while boosting skill development among KPDSB’s student body. As a result, schools will be producing and consuming significantly more bandwidth and data every day, necessitating a more robust and affordable network to support KPDSB’s highly connected schools.

“Instantaneous access to information and the ability to apply technology to problem solving is where our students need to be, as preparation for future team-oriented careers,” Jack adds. “We believe that KPDSB is serving our students well in providing 21st-century pedagogy and technology.”

ORION worked with KPDSB to deliver a lightning-fast upgrade to their existing network capacity. The school board can now support their data requirements and allow their students and teachers to utilize these new technologies to their full potential.

“The KPDSB has been with ORION for over 10 years,” explains Del Schmucker, KPDSB’s Information Systems Manager. “With this latest initiative we needed to increase our Internet bandwidth. The upgrade was a smooth, seamless transition. The KPDSB is confident in ORION’s infrastructure and ability to deliver—not only to provide transport but to provide direct connectivity to educational and research networks throughout the world. This peering has significant impact on services and connectivity for our students.”

In honour of his leadership in championing “The 21st Century Technology for Teaching and Learning Plan,” Jack received the 2013 ORION Leadership Award in the K-12 category. His vision has paved the way for Ontario’s school boards to adopt new technologies and support students’ learning in bold new ways.

Jack McMaster is an inspiration for all educators who strive to prepare their students for the future.