YU Education helps Grad Enhance Education in His Community

Student Stories

February 19, 2016

Written by Erin Hatfield

To say he was terrified to embark on his Master of Education in Adult Education at Yorkville University would be an under statement, says William Perrault (MEd, BA/BEd, OCT).


But, he took the leap and it wasn’t long before engaging in Yorkville’s online learning environment and discussion boards that his program became a pleasant educational addiction.


“I had my smart phone linked to my email, so anytime anyone posted within my course, I would automatically get that post on my phone,” William explained. “I could be anywhere and all of a sudden I would be reading this post and I would need to get to a desktop to respond to it right away.”


William is from Couchiching First Nation, which is a historic Anishinaabe community along Rainy Lake, just outside of Fort Francis, Ontario. About a year into his masters William, who works at Seven Generations Education Institute, was struck with the idea that the a similar set up as the YU learning environment could be a perfect kind of platform to augment his students’ learning.


Seven Generations Education Institute is an organization that has been operating for more than 30 years. It provides community-based and student centered learning opportunities for the Anishinaabeg community members.


William, now 51 years old, had been working as a coordinator at Seven Generations Education Institute for 18 years when word started to spread that there were some retirements within the organization on the horizon. He knew if he wanted to be considered he would have to get his Master’s.


“For me, I already had a BA and BEd from Lakehead University, so I needed to step up and look at furthering my education so that I would have an opportunity to move up the ladder,” William said.


He immediately started looking into programs when he came across Yorkville University’s Master of Education in Adult Education.


“It almost looked too good to be true because it fit my schedule and I could do it on my own time, because I work full time and I have a family,” explained William.


As member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), William called that organization to inquire if it was a recognized program and they said it was. So, although he was nervous about going back to school, William enrolled and started the journey towards obtaining his Master’s.


William soon came to thoroughly enjoy his studies. He said the professors were accessible and the program was well thought out, each course building on the knowledge acquired in earlier courses. But, in particular, the online Moodle Yorkville used sparked an idea. William said he knew there was potential for Seven Generations Educational Institute to make use of a Moodle to benefit its students.


For the students who attend Seven Generations Educational Institute, without it they would not have access to an education, William said. He explained that the pace can be a bit slower in the North, so when community members leave the area for school they can be overwhelmed with all the activity and loose focus on their studies.


“By having the programs here, locally, then they don’t have those extra distractions. They are in the environment that they grew up in and they don’t fall through the cracks,” William said.


The classes at Seven Generations are small and when a student isn’t showing up the instructors notice and track them down. William has even been known to hop in his truck to pick a student up who isn’t able to get a ride to class.


Moodle is used now as a supplement to the courses offered at Seven Generations.


“It works wonders,” he said. “What I have found is that if the young adults can maneuver on Facebook, Moodle is nothing to them.”


So, with this successful implementation in place, William was nearing the end of this program at Yorkville and decided to write his thesis on the integration of Moodle within first nation organization.


“The students love it. Now the instructors are linked directly to Moodle, all the assignments are right on Moodle,” William said. “It is a very strong effective tool.”


Since graduating, William did receive that promotion he had set his sights on and he is now the Associate Director of Post-Secondary Education and Training at Seven Generations Education Institute.


William currently has a coworker who is nearing the end of her Master’s with Yorkville and William said he continues to recommend the program widely.


Yorkville University offers a Master of Education in Adult Education as well as a Master of Education in Educational Leadership. Both programs are currently offered online. To find out more click here .