Streaming French, Chez Ontario’s Classrooms

TFO streams high quality, educational, French-language content to classrooms across Ontario, helping to prepare a new generation of students for a brighter, more educated, more innovative future in the province. And it’s the ORION network that ensures that content is delivered reliably, in real time, with substantial cost savings.


Click on image to enlarge

Download or view the PDF.

View the French version.

The school bell rings and students are rushing to their seats to tune into YouTube—no, this isn’t a media class, and not even a group presentation—this primary French Immersion class at District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) is learning language from Peppa Le Cochon (Peppa the little pig) as he sings and dances; part of a MiniTFO video series. Moments later, the students are dancing their own jig, learning new vocabulary by singing along in French, and gaining media literacy too. Across the hall in a Core French class, students are getting an authentic French cultural lesson by seeing francophone life around the world. Through TFO’s video series “Là où je dors” and “Ma maison, ma musique,” they’re watching a Haitian girl talk about moving from the mountains to go to school, and gathering water from the well. Not only is this a cultural eye-opener, but authentically learning about the world tout en français.

It’s a scene that plays out many mornings across Ontario as Eric Minoli, Chief Technology and Optimization Officer at TFO, Ontario’s French-language educational and cultural public media group, arrives at work to help ensure that school boards can keep learning from Peppa and the francophone communities. Every school day, he and the rest of the team at TFO stream educational programming to hundreds of students — and they do it through the ORION network.

ORION and TFO have been partners for years. In that time, ORION has helped TFO to stream content to dozens of French- and English-language school boards across Ontario. They’re part of a TFO audience that stretches all the way across Canada, including tens of thousands of teachers who have access to TFO’s trusted, high-quality, and commercial-free content in their classrooms — including videos, games, mobile apps and more. “Now that we have TFO available across the board, this has made a huge difference in having French resources available to everyone,” explains Julie Stapleton, a French language consultant with DSBN school support services. “Before, it was up to each school and each student to access TFO’s services, but now we have unlimited access.”

Educators are also provided with teaching tools related to their videos and classroom activities, so that teachers and students streaming TFO get the added benefit of a complete set of educational tools. Plus, teachers can search for specific content related to their courses, choosing from more than 8,000 resources on the TFO platform that ORION helps make available. “When I was training new French Immersion teachers, we had a live session with a TFO trainer and on the screen, teachers could see exactly what kind of tools they could use,” says Stapleton of the remote training. She also loves how teachers can manage thematic content folders that TFO has pre-selected, which makes it easier for teachers to identify relevant lesson resources according to topics they are teaching. “For teachers to know they have these resources available to them—that’s a big thing,” she adds.

The ORION network also connects those classrooms to the outside world, giving them the opportunity to collaborate with peers around the globe in a safe and private manner. Students and teachers can use the ORION network to connect to Ontario innovation communities, universities, colleges, and other broader public sector agencies as well.

And it’s not just educational content that ORION helps to deliver. ORION also streamlines savings, which TFO can then re-invest into making French-language education as engaging and innovative as possible for Ontario’s students.

“Before ORION, we had to have video lines as well as data lines between sites. Now we have both of these in one, so it’s much cheaper,” Minoli explains. “Plus, with ORION, we don’t have to make advance reservations for, say, a video line, like we used to have to do.” Beyond that, being on the ORION network also helps Ontario’s school boards save on administrative licensing and infrastructure fees.

Eric Minoli, Chief Technology and Optimization Officer at Groupe Média TFO oversees smooth transfer and flow of French language content and data to users. Photo courtesy of TFO.

Eric Minoli, Chief Technology and Optimization Officer at Groupe Média TFO oversees smooth transfer and flow of French language content and data to users. Photo courtesy of TFO.

The benefits don’t end with cost-efficiency and convenience, either. As Dino Miele, Chief Information Officer of DSBN explains, streaming content through a reliable network offers real-time access to TFO’s educational content, which in turn helps to reduce distractions during classroom lessons.

“This really benefits our students and lets them focus on the content TFO provides,” he says. “They get exposure to a variety of French accents, have access to different French cultures around the world, and the situational videos provide a great opportunity for experiential learning.”

You could say that TFO and ORION are helping to ensure the continuity of French culture. But business continuity is important too — and ORION helps there as well.

“TFO is building a data backup site in Ottawa,” Minoli explains. “ORION is the network through which this data will flow, which is why it’s vitally important to be on a trusted and reliable network.” Safe, uninterrupted data flow means no pockets of downtime, so that nothing is missed.

TFO also uses the ORION network to connect their offices and satellite broadcast headquarters, enabling smooth data transmission and live HD video streaming. In this way, Minoli can be confident in the connections TFO uses every day.

In the end, all of that allows more time and more money to be spent actually educating students, with classrooms across the province able to take full advantage of the high-quality, French-language content TFO provides over the ORION network. And that, in turn, means a brighter, more educated, more innovative future for Ontario.