2017 CNIE Leadership Award – Sarah Hainsworth

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2017 CNIE Leadership Award – Sarah Hainsworth

At the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) conference last month, Sarah Hainsworth of the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development was named as an awardee of the 2017 CNIE Leadership Award.  The award “is given in recognition of outstanding service to the field of technology or media in education or of distance education.”  With permission, we have included below a copy of the nomination that was made on Sarah’s behalf.

Congratulations Sarah Hainsworth,  2017 CNIE Leadership Award winner!!!


Nomination of Behalf of Sarah Hainsworth for the 2017 CNIE Leadership Award

Sarah Hainsworth began her career as an educator in 1988, first as a classroom teacher of French, and subsequently as a children’s librarian in the public library system. These early experiences proved to her the fundamental importance to learning of a rich variety of media and resources in every educational context. That deeply held conviction subsequently informed her pivotal role in establishing & developing K-12 distance education and technology integration in Nova Scotian public schools .

Having achieved a Master of Library and Information Studies at Dalhousie University in 1995, Sarah joined Learning Resources and Technology Services at the Department of Education & Early Childhood Development as what was then known as “Education Media Librarian.” This position had evolved to manage a centralized film and video collection, from which Nova Scotian public school teachers could, at no charge, borrow films or obtain video copies of resources in support of the Nova Scotian curriculum and teacher professional development.

As an enthusiastic early adopter of educational technology, however, Sarah was anxious to reinvent the increasingly obsolete distribution system she inherited. During 1995-2008, she oversaw the rapid evolution of the LRTS collection into a video and software only library, accessed by teachers primarily online, through a pioneering, interactive website. As educational technology evolved further, she transferred the LRTS collection entirely to an online database, and made hundreds of educational videos available on demand to Nova Scotian schools. For the first time in the media library’s long history, student and teacher access to educational video resources became –with apologies to Air America- “any resource, anytime, anywhere.”

Beyond her role as Media Librarian, Sarah eagerly took on designing and delivering professional development across Nova Scotia, as an active –even activist- Department representative on the Regional Board Technology Supervisors group, RBTS. Her in-service responsibilities came to include not only conventional workshops in new curriculum such as Science, but also sessions concerning classroom technology integration- particularly the use of online databases; K-12 software packages; copyright law as it applied in the classroom; and the use of content management software. Most notably, she became an early advocate of open-source, Moodle learning environments for both teachers and students and was part of the team that oversaw Moodle’s widespread application across the public school system in Nova Scotia.

Such efforts often meant persuading skeptical school board officials, classroom teachers and occasionally staff at the Department itself of the value of integrating technology with K-12 curriculum. Customarily, Sarah displayed – and displays- such a breadth of preparation and calm, patient resolve that her audiences, however skeptical at first, were and are -generally- won over. Partly as a result of Sarah’s intelligent persistence during scores of events, face to face and online, all Nova Scotian school boards have been using educational technology extensively to increase the engagement and learning of their students since the turn of the century.

By 2008, the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development was ready to offer online a range of secondary courses particularly to schools where, hitherto, rural isolation and small student populations limited curriculum choice. Though conventional, paper-based correspondence study continues to serve some Nova Scotian learners, the new system augments and transcends it by offering online course options to most students unable to access them in a conventional classroom. As the new Coordinator of Distributed Learning, Sarah Hainsworth was involved in the Nova Scotia Virtual School more or less from day one.

She has had a major role in evaluating and choosing its learning management systems; selecting and prioritizing its initial course offerings; training online teachers; and developing school policies and procedures, including assessment, registration, and province-wide implementation. She continues to manage Departmental designers, technical specialists and clerical staff supporting the virtual school and to counsel students and liaise with parents and regional boards in all aspects of its administration.

The Nova Scotia Virtual School started as a fully funded, provincial entity in 2011, with 479 students over 2 semesters; 10 full-time teaching staff equivalents; and 21 courses. Only six years later, NSVS has nearly tripled in size, with 15.5 FTEs teaching over 45 courses to over 1500 students. If one combines the student populations of NSVS and evolving but still traditional correspondence study, Sarah administers to about 2500 students -in effect, she has made this combined service equivalent to the largest secondary school in Nova Scotia.

By | 2017-06-22T15:57:33+00:00 June 26th, 2017|Awards, CNIE|

About the Author:

Michael K. Barbour is Associate Professor of Instructional Design for the College of Education and Health Sciences at Touro University California. He has been involved with K-12 online learning in a variety of countries for well over a decade as a researcher, teacher, course designer and administrator. Michael’s research focuses on the effective design, delivery and support of K-12 online learning, particularly for students located in rural jurisdictions.