It has been an exciting challenge to bring heritage to the mainstream – the mission of the Heritage Community Foundation. On our founding on 19 July 1999, the Trustees knew instinctively that we needed to focus on Alberta's centenary in 2005 and to engage all Albertans. We also knew that we needed a visionary larger-than-life project that would break new ground and touch all Albertans as we celebrated Alberta – past, present, and future.
Coincidentally, the Government of Alberta had embarked on the creation of the Alberta SuperNet, a tool for providing all communities with access to the World Wide Web. The opportunity was there and we seized it. The Heritage Community Foundation would be the primary content creator of digital heritage to showcase Alberta's historical, natural, cultural, scientific, and technological heritage.
I would like to acknowledge the work of the founding and current Trustees. They accepted the responsibility of not only being individually and severally liable but also the challenge of growing the vision and the governance structure of a new entity. The Foundation is a charitable trust with the powers to raise and hold funds to support programs and services. But none-of-us at the outset envisioned that to accomplish our mandate of linking people with heritage through discovery and learning would lead us to become leaders in the Information Society. In doing this, we would truly be bringing heritage to the mainstream – the Foundation's mission.
Dr. Adriana Davies, Executive Director, and her staff have made this vision a reality. The research, writing, editing, design, and technological expertise of Foundation staff and interns are second-to-none. Each website that has been created, from Alberta: How the West Was Young, to The Famous 5, to Alberta's Political History, to Albertans: Who Do They Think They Are?, to Alberta's Inventors and Inventions and many more too long to list, has outstripped the imagination of the Trustees. The staff's productivity and the excellence of the websites and customized learning resources is prodigious. Alberta, today, is the envy of other Canadian provinces and American states for its breadth and depth of authoritative content for the Internet.From school children to teachers and parents, genealogists to journalists, from economic developers to visitors, job seekers to entrepreneurs – our website audience beggars the imagination. Last year over 800,000 visitors spent nearly twenty minutes each on sites. Over 10,000 of them wrote to us with thanks and requests for further information. We can only go from strength-to-strength as the Online Encyclopedia is launched and sites continue to multiply.
Pride in Alberta and a belief in the importance of the continuing new technology to excellent content has been our motivation. The Government of Alberta has acknowledged this impetus by providing funding support for the Online Encyclopedia and naming it a Centennial Legacy project.
The Trustees and our Campaign Committee are now working to ensure the sustainability of this matchless resource. Our sincere thanks to heritage, government, media, educational, and corporate partners. By collaboration and hard work, we have created a knowledge resource for the 21st century. We must now steward its growth to ensure that it remains comprehensive, current, and relevant. A solid and sustainable funding base must be built to allow the Online Encyclopedia to grow and remain free and fully accessible to all.
F. Morris Flewwelling, C.M.
President and Chair
The Heritage Community Foundation, as all other heritage institutions and organizations, is in service to society and its development. We are not collectors of artifacts, natural history specimens, archival documents, equipment and machinery, stories, photographs, and other aspects of our collective heritage simply because we wish to hoard the knowledge that they embody. We do this in service to society. We study the past to understand the present and chart the future. Our collecting, studying, and interpreting are simply ways of accomplishing this.
With the growth of the World Wide Web, an incredible tool has been developed to share this knowledge. We can help make serious researchers of every child, teacher, parent, or any other seeker of information by making authoritative content available on the Web and connecting it to the institutions that collect, study, preserve, and interpret this heritage.
The Government of Canada saw the potential of the Web as a delivery mechanism for digital content and created the Virtual Museum of Canada and Canadian Culture Online Program, Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Canada’s Digital Collections Program, Industry Canada. These funding programs enabled the Foundation to become a leader in the creation of virtual exhibits, educational websites, and resources. We were a part of the first wave of digital content creation that made our collections and contextual information available to all. We helped to create the standards with respect to authority of content, ease of navigation, and excellence in website design.
We have made history in all of its aspects and perspectives come alive. The vision is truly encyclopedic, and its accomplishment in the tradition of the great encyclopedists of the 18th and 19th centuries and their Canadian counterparts, such as Mel Hurtig. This larger-than-life Canadian was responsible for The Canadian Encyclopedia – Alberta’s 75th anniversary gift to the people of Canada.
I believe that Mel infected me with the encyclopedia bug. As the Science and Technology Editor of The Canadian Encyclopedia, it gave me great pleasure to go the next step and to give the accumulation and sharing of knowledge a 21st century embodiment through the concept and accomplishment of the Alberta Online Encyclopedia.
In a print publication, there are word limits as well as limits to the number of photographs, maps, and other illustrative material. The website is a marvelously elastic tool that can also accommodate audio, video, animated graphics, games, and other means to communicate information. A website can also be a tool for local history research and for providing information on new and emerging communities and issues. It does not have to confine itself to established academic history. It can be history in the making based on oral histories. It is marvelously democratic and inclusive.
In the end, the growth of any province or country is based on an educated and informed citizenry. That is the vision of the Heritage Community Foundation, not just the creation of excellent educational resources that draw on the accumulated knowledge contained in heritage collections. Rather, it is making that knowledge publicly accessible and compelling so that no-one can resist the siren call to explore and learn. From that exploration, we can all create a better world.In the words of Grant MacEwan, we must leave the vineyard a better place. This can only happen if we instill in our young people the desire to learn and to understand natural and human history, to value the arts and culture, to make wise use of resources, and to use science and technology in humane ways.
The Alberta Online Encyclopedia is the ideal tool for learning but also for promoting a love of province, country, and people and respect for the wonderful world in which we live. Can there be a more fitting legacy for Alberta’s centennial?
Adriana A. Davies, Ph.D.
My passion for history and Alberta pioneer roots came together when I became a Trustee of the Heritage Community Foundation. Unless we learn the lessons of the past, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes. As President and CEO of Precision Scale, I bring to the Foundation a comprehensive background in business planning and development, as well as strong community support.
I want all Albertans to know about their past so that it can influence our present and future. My son uses the Internet as his first source of information on not only business matters but also recreational pursuits. I want my children and grandchildren to have access to the best Alberta materials, and I want it to be free. I am prepared to give personally as well as encouraging friends and professional colleagues to give to continue to build and maintain this dynamic resource.
The Trustees have charged me and the Campaign Committee with building sustaining resources for the Heritage Community Foundation and the Online Encyclopedia. Each individual donation and leadership gift will help to create other dynamic “virtual volumes.” As the new Alberta curriculum is being developed, the Online Encyclopedia provides rich, multi-sensory learning resources for the Province of Alberta’s 2,000 schools, 35,000 teachers, and more than 590,000 students.
I cannot imagine a better legacy for Alberta’s centenary. The Foundation has created an unparalleled product. We now need to build a solid base of donors and supporters who will ensure the Alberta Online Encyclopedia grows and remains free and fully accessible to all.
The campaign goal is to raise $26 million. Our plan is to allocate:
While the Alberta Online Encyclopedia is the Foundation’s primary product, the Foundation also wishes to support our partners in the heritage community for their contributions of content, artifact, and photographic images and general content expertise. The Foundation is modeled on the community foundation and is not bounded by geography – only by its passionate commitment to the preservation, study, interpretation, and communication of our heritage.
We know that you will explore and discover the resources available at www.albertasource.ca. The Foundation can only do its important work through the generosity of donors. Your gift will truly continue to give in perpetuity when you support the Heritage Community Foundation – Alberta’s heritage charity.
The Alberta Online Encyclopedia is bigger and bolder than the sum of its part – the fifty plus websites and Edukits (multimedia learning resources) that currently make up its content. For the average person, a website is an electronic brochure selling a product or organization or it is a personal vanity site. In the second generation of web development for the internet, contributors have focussed on the communication of information and e-commerce.
It was the Canadian Heritage Information Network, beginning in 1999, which saw the potential of the World Wide Web as a deliverer of significant content and of engaging the greater public in museums. The Heritage Community Foundation, inspired by the Virtual Museum of Canada and other federal online projects, has created a range of dynamic and educational websites (all have fits with the Alberta curriculum). Each individually tells a unique story of Alberta’s heritage – historical, natural, cultural, scientific, and technological. But imagine being able to search all of the books in a library regardless of subject matter or your location. The Foundation has taken its assemblage of individual websites and through the Alberta Online Encyclopedia has linked them through a common database to create an incredible repository of authoritative content that draws on generations of museum and academic research. Add images from museum and archival collections as well as audio, video, Flash, and other new media and you get an unparalleled resource for the 21st century.
Let’s look at the Online Encyclopedia. Is it a Google Alberta? Yes, and much more. Google provides access to website content based on a keyword search. It does not create websites. The Foundation does both and more since all of the Foundation’s sites are created with partners who contribute vision and content as well as images, audio, and video. The Online Encyclopedia allows you to search all of this content, but embedded within it are external links to other authoritative sites vetted by the Foundation.
How do you conduct a search? Given the Online Encyclopedia’s volume – almost 12,000 pages of text, over 270 videos, over 43,000 images, and over 2,500 audio recordings – it might seem daunting. But the welcome page has been designed to make searches easy. You can search Text, Images, Audio, and Video using key words, phrases,dates, or whatever else you might want to find. This is the kind of open-ended search that many World Wide Web users prefer, and the beauty of it is that, now, users don’t have to go to a number of separate websites to access content in one subject area. For example, a search on “Treaty 8” will draw on material from the following websites: Alberta: How the West Was Young; The Making of Treaty 8; Nature’s Laws; Elders’ Voices; the Aboriginal Youth Identity Edukit; Women of Aspenland; and The Métis in Alberta.
For those who want a subject area search, a subject index has been created and, for example, you can do a search on “women.” This will draw on content from all of the websites and Edukits. The search results will include not only material from dedicated sites such as Women of Aspenland and The Famous 5 but also any references to women in all remaining sites and Edukits.
The basis of all websites is digital material, and the Foundation is a leader in digitizing the province’s museum collections. Partnerships including the Spirit of the Peace Museums Network, City of Edmonton Archives, CKUA, and the Central Alberta Regional Museums Network (CARMN) have resulted in the creation of digital archives. This material, then, becomes available for general searches by teachers, students, journalists, scholars, and others, as well as for future website development projects.
But how does the Online Encyclopedia differ from other online repositories of Alberta materials? Basically, it is in the scope and amount of digitized material and content. That is why it was named Alberta Source. It is the single source for anyone seeking information about Alberta – past, present, and future. It is the perfect complement to the Alberta SuperNet, which provides connectivity but no content. It’s a perfect fit like apple pie and ice cream, horse and saddle, grain fields and blue sky, and moose, Mounties, and mountains!
It is the perfect project for a significant political anniversary and a launching pad for Alberta and Albertans into the future of the Information Age. The visitors to our websites over the past year know this – over 24 million hits with 800,000 visitors staying for fifteen to twenty minutes, as well as over 10,000 emails heaping praise and requesting information.
Where does the Alberta Online Encyclopedia go from here? The content needs to continue to grow so that the breadth of subject matter reflects 21st century needs. Existing content must be updated regularly. All websites could benefit from additional appropriate audio and video as well as games and other interactives. It can become the first step in local, ethnocultural, and other research by creating repositories of oral and community history content. As genealogists connect with their roots, resources that name names and put them into a context of meaning and significance will become invaluable to individuals and communities seeking a better understanding of themselves and the past.
The Online Encyclopedia is a collaborative exercise in building public knowledge and understanding. It is a free resource available to every Albertan, Canadian, and user of the World Wide Web. For individual and community growth and well being, there can be no barriers to knowledge acquisition and dissemination.
The Commonwealth Building at 9912 - 106 Street in Edmonton is a typical five-storey office building, and it is certainly not the type of setting one would imagine when thinking of significant historic events. The entrance is a split-level setup, with a small foyer providing a landing for stairs that either descend to the first floor or ascend to the second and beyond. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can climb all the way up to the building’s fifth floor, where a long corridor greets you at the top of the stairway. Office doors stand to the immediate left and right as you enter the hallway, but it is the right hand door, the one for Suite 54, which houses a bold new vision for presenting Alberta’s history online. This is the home of the Heritage Community Foundation and the Alberta Online Encyclopedia.
A tour through the office reveals more than a set of workstations and employees. It is a physical representation of the building of a project as grand as the Online Encyclopedia,from conception to upload. One of the first offices you pass is where the Heritage Community Foundation vision takes root, most particularly in the mind of Dr. Adriana Davies, the Executive Director of the Foundation. Her office, which lies in a straight line across the reception area from the front door, reveals an empty desk. Her Executive Assistant, Lynn Long, who shares Dr. Davies’s office, will most likely inform you that Adriana is on the road a lot, crisscrossing the city, the province, or the continent to sell her vision of the educational potential of the internet.
The vision of online heritage education guided Adriana to create not only the content but also to develop the team of researchers and web developers required to make the vision a reality. She has traveled many kilometers, establishing critical project partnerships, identifying content, and raising the awareness of potential financial donors. She has researched, written, edited, and proofread hundreds of pages of content for many of the websites found in the Online Encyclopedia. She has also guided the design of web pages and print ads alike – all for the sake of bringing this considerable vision to life. In the process, the Heritage Community Foundation has become a principal internship and practicum location for both researchers and web developers in all of Canada. This was recognized by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce Award when they presented the Foundation with the Alberta Human Resources and Employment Award for Excellence in Youth Employment presented to the Foundation in spring 2005 by the Honourable Clint Dunford, Minister of Economic Development.
The Alberta Online Encyclopedia, found at www.albertasource.ca, as web users have come to know it, is – to understate things a bit – an ambitious project. The Alberta Online Encyclopedia is no less than a digital monument, a provincial legacy for the information age. It is a singular piece of online work, designed to disseminate Alberta’s natural, social, cultural, political, scientific, and technological heritage to any Albertan, Canadian, or citizen of the world who has access to the World Wide Web. At over fifty websites and counting, AlbertaSource. ca is an epic vision of virtual history, the seeds of which were sown by the Heritage Community Foundation.
It all began in 1999, on the cusp of the 21st century. Change was the buzzword then, and it was through this world of change that the Heritage Community Foundation first entered the scene. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust, founded on the mandate to “link people with heritage through discovery and learning.” The World Wide Web was the obvious choice to link people with Alberta’s history and heritage, as the Web is accessible to many and allows for an interactive, multimedia online experience that cannot be duplicated in print.
Why stop at text about a pioneer, when you could hear her voice in an audio clip or see her face in a digitized photograph or video clip? The possibilities were too numerous to ignore. The Government of Alberta certainly did not, setting aside $1 million towards making the Alberta Online Encyclopedia a reality by 2005, Alberta’s Centennial year. This was one of the few non-physical infrastructure projects funded for the centenary and a testament to the vision of the Trustees and Executive Director. It was not enough to receive the funding. In 2005, the Online Encyclopedia had to move from drawing board to reality. The database needed to be conceptualized, designed, and built. It needed to anticipate a range of audience needs. A senior management structure was required to bring it to fruition.
Up to this point, Adriana had led a team, largely comprised of interns and volunteers, to create various online resources. The Online Encyclopedia creation required additional knowledge skills and Alberta Legacy funding made it possible for some strategic recruitment. Three new directors were hired: Sylvia Vance, Director of Research and Project Management; Joel Christianson, Director of Projects and Partnerships; and Norma McElhone, Director of Development. All are required to move the Foundation and the Online Encyclopedia to sustainable status.
The model for content creation, from the outset, was based on partnerships with museums and heritage organizations. This is the life-blood of the Heritage Community Foundation and the basis of the unique nature of the sites that meld text with technology in a context of museum research, artifacts, and archival documents, as well as work with living communities.
While maintaining existing partnerships, in order to continue to fill gaps in the content plan, new partnerships and projects need to be envisioned on an ongoing basis. The task of establishing new partnerships and project work rests in the hands of Joel Christianson, the Director of Projects and Partnerships. Claudette Moses, Joel’s assistant, compiles the reports detailing the terrain ahead, naming the new allies with which the Foundation will build new projects and laying the groundwork for those new projects. The list of past partners reads as a Who’s Who of Alberta’s heritage sector: Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Sir Alexander Galt Museum in Lethbridge, Telephone Historical Centre and Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, Spirit of the Peace Museums Network in the Peace River Region, Central Alberta Regional Museum Network, Year of the Coal Miner Network, and scores of other museums, archives, historic sites, small businesses, corporations, and private citizens.
Partner organizations and institutions have all donated content expertise, research, money, media, and materials to the cause. For example, CKUA Radio Network Inc. has been a partner for all projects contributing a range of audio including over 500 “Heritage Trails”, mini-documentaries developed and produced by Cheryl Croucher. Joel’s main job, working with senior staff, is to see the list of partners and projects is continually expanding. Just don’t expect to see him only behind his desk any time soon.
A left-hand turn from the doorway of Adriana’s office leads you away from the reception area and into an interminably lengthy hallway lined with offices. Here is the financial district of the Foundation. Win Aungkyaw, the Chief Financial Officer, can usually be found here, huddled over a calculator, frowning over the latest figures. He is ably backed by Bookkeeper, Bruno Lee, and assistant Jarmela Wage. Win is involved in budgeting for all grants and other projects as well as financial administration and reporting. The business of transferring the history of a province to an online format is a noble, but expensive, effort. Every department in the Foundation exists by the mantra of getting quality work done while keeping the cost down.
Also making a home in the finance section of the Foundation is the Development office, headed by Director of Development Norma McElhone, and shared by Development Assistant Carmen To. Norma has created the Foundation’s case working with A to Z Campaign Chair Jerry Gunn and undertakes prospect research as well as special events. At present, most of the Foundation’s funding is on a project-by-project basis. For the sustainability of the Online Encyclopedia and to support heritage partners, major fundraising efforts are required.
Brenda Hennig combines two core activities that reflect her expertise and passion: grants and videography. Grants are the lifeblood of a project of this magnitude, and Brenda works with all senior staff to design grant proposals to ensure funding and scope for a new generation of Online Encyclopedia web projects. Brenda also heads up the small film unit organizing and directing video shoots that provide original material to not only enhance the content of web projects but to also promote heritage. An exciting new initiative is the Alberta Moments series of public service vignettes for television broadcast.
A little further down the corridor, you begin to notice a transition to a more industrial setting dominated by the sounds of mice on pads and the sight of eyes squinting critically at computer screens. The look is less charitable foundation and more like start-up IT company. Welcome to the Heritage Community Foundation’s Technical Department. Davor Babic, System Administrator, leads a technical dream team of webmasters and developers: Rachel Leong, Nicolas de Boon, Nathan Sorochan, Don Switzer, Chace Groves, Aleem Karmali, Justin Lohrentz, Jean- Philippe Geoffrion, Warren Fayant, Jimmy Gladue, Rolland Malegana, and Jason Doucette. The core team triples in summer through various internship programs. Activities range from internal and external networking to general web programming and development to Flash design. The technical team works closely with the Research and Production department to build new online materials. These are the masons of the Online Encyclopedia, the ones who design the layout, establish the links, chase down glitches, and animate the interactives.
At this point in the journey, technical labs meld with the Research area. This department is charged with providing the content that answers the who, what, where, when, why, and how of Alberta heritage. The Director of Research and Project Management, Sylvia Vance, is a woman of many talents, often performing the mental acrobatics necessary to guide the widely various projects set for her department – everything from the creation of web product to advertising and communications promoting the work of the Heritage Community Foundation.
The Research Team, consisting of Shaun Emes, Kathy Vaughan, Marta Dabros, Julie Smith, David Baker, Peter C. Conrad, Michael Flewwelling, and Anton Brereton is charged not only with articulating the heritage of Alberta in words but also with presenting such text in a bold and innovative multimedia setting. This is a mandate that stretches far beyond websites. These days, projects are affairs that embrace many forms of expression, from book publications and poster design to museum panels. The researchers engage in a significant amount of community outreach, connecting to museums, archives, libraries, corporations, and private individuals to identify appropriate source materials including photographs, video and audio files, interactives, and feature articles.
Research stands next to the Technical Team as one of the Foundation’s largest departments. In fact, it is so large that it has expanded out of the existing office space into the space that sits across the hall. If you step out the door of one part of the Research and Production Department, you’ll find yourself at the far end of the fifth floor corridor. This is the Foundation’s Heritage Learning Centre including print and digital resources as well as the offices of curriculum developers and instructional designers. It includes David Baker, Michael Flewwelling, and Peter Conrad. All three specialize in curriculum-based research, working with the rest of the research team to construct content for a specialized set of websites known as Edukits and comprising lesson plans and student activities.
All Foundation web projects serve as educational material for students and researchers of heritage, as well as for the general public, but the Edukit sites in the Online Encyclopedia are specifically designed to conform to the standards of the Alberta educational curriculum. The Edukit websites are dynamic compilations of photographs, videos, audio clips, and text articles designed to serve as an online resource for teachers, parents, and students alike.
Education is a key word in a place actively constructing an online encyclopedia but the Foundation, based on its success as a provider of internship and practicum experiences, has also become a NAIT classroom. Senior staff received training to become NAIT Master Instructors to be able to provide a comprehensive package of classroom, on-the-job training and work experience to ten Aboriginal interns in a pilot interactive media fifty-two-week program. The Program graduated eight interns and is currently recruiting for a second year. Karen Hovelkamp is the Project Co-ordinator. The students have worked on a range of projects with Aboriginal partners, and four are now employees of the Foundation.
What the overall office layout doesn’t show is the complex interaction required to turn dreams into reality. No one department at the Heritage Community Foundation exists in isolation. Each group depends on the success of the others to accomplish a task. The Foundation truly is a new entity that bridges knowledge and technology and is likely the largest online publisher in the country, giving Alberta’s heritage institution and organizations major profile on the World Wide Web.
The other thing not immediately apparent when you wander the halls of the Heritage Community Foundation is that many of the current staff of the Foundation were not present at the beginning of the Alberta Online Encyclopedia project. The Online Encyclopedia is as much a testament to the efforts of past staff and volunteers of the Foundation as it is a legacy of the province of Alberta. Summer interns too numerous to count have provided the research, writing, and technical development for the many websites of the Online Encyclopedia. Some of those interns stayed on as permanent staff, while many others used experience gained to secure work in their chosen fields.
Full and part time staff members have come and gone as well, leaving their marks in the web projects built during their stay here. Each generation of staff at the Foundation adds something to the Online Encyclopedia, a style of writing or web design, technical specifications, or research protocols. Now the work is on to set the standards of all those who have gone before into a permanent and ongoing process. It is an ongoing project that has no real end to it, so long as Alberta continues to make history, and the process of building the Online Encyclopedia isone that reflects the combined efforts of the many Heritage Community Foundation staff who have served the organization over the years.
As you leave the Heritage Community Foundation offices and descend the stairs to street level, you might wonder if it’s really worth it, all the time spent poring over dusty records or out of print books, ancient artifacts or haunting images of those who walked the paths of life in times long gone. Is it worth the hours of programming and designing and community outreach? What is it all for in the end? The answer is closer than you think.
If you stand at the front of the Commonwealth Building and turn to face north along 106th Street, you discover a poignant reminder of just how vital projects like the Alberta Online Encyclopedia have become. The ruins of the Arlington, a 1909 apartment building that was destroyed in a fire in April 2005, speaks to the unsettling ease with which a community’s heritage can be lost or swept away.The records, stories, and media that are gathered by places like the Heritage Community Foundation are bulwarks against the eroding forces of time and change. We all live the times, but we need someone to record them, for an intimate knowledge of the past enables us to steer the course of the future.
The Heritage Community Foundation and its many province-wide partners work together to develop heritage based websites and digital learning resources. We build digital repositories, promote research into many aspects of our history, and help build sustaining support for heritage.
While many organizations, such as Historica, focus on traditional history in formal and informal education about the significant people and events comprising this academic discipline, the Heritage Community Foundation has chosen the multifaceted area of contested and parallel histories for its focus. In practical terms, the focus includes Aboriginal, Francophone, inventions, industry, communications, civil society, religion,
volunteerism, law, natural history, political history, diversity, and pluralism.
The multifaceted focus of the Heritage Community Foundation has brought about research and websites such as Nature’s Laws and Volunteerism in Alberta. The great diversity of the Foundation’s websites includes Alberta: Naturally, an exploration of the natural history of the province. Other websites are Alberta’s Aviation Heritage, Alberta Inventors and Inventions, Alberta’s Telephone Heritage, Elders’ Voices, Great Alberta Law Cases, When Coal Was King, and The Famous 5.
Since the Heritage Community Foundation was founded in 1999, more than fifty websites have been produced that draw on a range of primary and secondary resources including museum research and archival materials. All of these resources have been used as the foundation for the Alberta Online Encyclopedia.
People using the Online Encyclopedia will currently find it has 11,657 multimedia rich web pages. There are 2,641 audio recordings and 273 videos available. Visitors will find fifty-five Flash (©Adobe) movies and 43,358 photographs in the Online Encyclopedia. Researchers will also have access to a massive digital collection of museum and archival resources from institutions across Alberta that have become partners with the Heritage Community Foundation to place their collections online. There is no doubt that the Alberta Online Encyclopedia provided by the Heritage Community Foundation is the largest resource of its kind in Alberta.
The users of the Online Encyclopedia range from young students to academic researchers and the general public, so easy access is necessary. To make this rich resource easily available, the Alberta Online Encyclopedia has been developed with an efficient index and search facility.
The Foundation draws on the expertise of museum curators, archivists, academics, and community historians and others passionately committed to heritage. The contributors are the “people” network that we bring to bear on knowledge creation and dissemination.
The websites produced by the Heritage Community Foundation have achieved a prominent position on the internet with search engines placing them high on the list for researchers and user of the internet to access. As the Heritage Community Foundation continues to develop more websites, its presence on the internet will continue to be foremost among researchers in Alberta, Canada, and among those who are seeking information about Alberta anywhere on the internet.
The Heritage Community Foundation specializes in producing experiential learning content and activities on the Internet by placing people, events, and stories in a context that is meaningful and brings discovery to the user. The historical, geographic, cultural, sociological, technical, political as well as other perspectives have been placed in an effective accessible context.
The websites, Edukits, and online resources presented by the Foundation includes the full array of multimedia, including audio recordings, to bring the users many of the actual voices of those who have participated in the events presented. There are also photographs of people, places, and events that enhance the learning experience of those exploring the Foundation’s websites. In many cases, there are videos included that also show people, places, and events in context.
Examples of the experiential learning resources are audio recordings and videos exploring the spiritualism of Aboriginal people in the websites Nature’s Laws and Elders’ Voices. In the website Alberta’s Aviation Heritage there are many historical photographs of early pilots, and there are videos of early aviation pioneers sharing their experiences.
The Foundation’s Edukits Spirituality and Creation, Language and Culture, and Culture and Its Meaning present students with Aboriginal perspectives within the cultural and historical context. Other Edukits like Alberta, Naturally and Alberta Petroleum Heritage explore the natural environment and the economic benefits of natural resources. These Edukits present the wealth of Alberta’s natural resources and what implications that has for the economy with effective multimedia and activities that can be shared by learners. The Edukit Alberta’s Black Heritage presents the history of the Black people in Alberta with activities and content providing a valuable perspective for those exploring the cultural history of Alberta.
The Heritage Community Foundation also presents the collections of many museums and archives, like the CKUA Sound Archives, the artifacts and documents in the Spirit of the Peace Museums: Online Catalogue, and the patents in Alberta Inventors and Inventions. With access to such rich resources as the collections held in museums and archives in Alberta, the viewer can experience the history, people, and places that make up this Province with artifacts, documents, images, audio, and videos of Alberta’s history and culture, increasing their understanding of the context and perspectives of the past and present.
With the contribution of the best people in the heritage field, including museum curators, archivists, academics, community historians, and those passionate about heritage, the text is sensitive to all perspectives and accessible to the general public, enhancing the context and encouraging the user to continue their explorations.
The Alberta Online Encyclopedia is the first online project of its kind in Canada. Moreover, it is an ongoing project that is going to get bigger and better with each new year. A look at the statistics so far reveals just how unique and vibrant the Alberta Online Encyclopedia really is!
As of 2005, Alberta’s Centennial Year, the Alberta Online Encyclopedia:
The Heritage Community Foundation excels at producing web content that has linkages to many areas of the curriculum and is used by teachers, students, and members of the general public throughout Canada and abroad.
With these content resources, the Foundation produces online learning materials and youth programs including a series of Edukits that provides a wealth of interactive learning developed by professional teachers and instructional designers. These resources have multimedia learning activities that includes games, graphics, quizzes, text, images, audio, videos, and teachers’ lesson plans that assist students in understanding various aspects of the Alberta primary and secondary curriculum. These resources explore aspects of Alberta, Canada, and the world that the learner encounters and wants more information about.
The learning resources produced by the Foundation contribute to the learning of over 2,000 schools and help 35,000 teachers in Alberta. These resources are of great value to those who are home schooled. As well, Alberta has one of the highest rates of internet access in Canada, with 59 percent of Alberta households currently connected to the Internet. The learning resources can assist student with their school work, finding information that is accessible and related to their areas of study.
From their conceptualization, the content has been established to ground children and youth in an understanding of the layers of identity, both individual and collective, as well as to nurture historical awareness. Websites are linked to the curriculum, but dedicated sites such as www.edukits.ca and www.youthsource.ab.ca are geared specially to young people’s needs and perspectives.
To make web content child and youth friendly, the Heritage Community Foundation has designed the Alberta Heritage Alphabet website for an A to Z view of the historical, natural, and cultural heritage of Alberta written at different learning levels to include elementary, junior, and senior high school. The unique website, for example, includes an interactive comic book and has different leading comic characters to provide narration. The site makes the history, culture, and natural history of Alberta approachable for all levels of interest and age.
The material in all of the websites is enhanced with the use of graphics, interactive multimedia, photographs, audio, and videos. They have been written with sensitivity to the reading levels of the learners and the general public, making the websites and the focused learning materials more accessible to everyone.
The Heritage Community Foundation has developed an extraordinary resource for researchers, students, teachers, and the general public as it has been carrying out a program to digitally capture the artifacts and documents of museums, archives, historic sites, and other heritage organizations and institutions across Alberta. These images, audio, videos, and documents from archives and museums become easily accessible to the users of the Internet as this project develops. Using the best multimedia technologies, the Foundation is ensuring that the history genuinely speaks in an interactive voice to the millions who visit its websites each year. This new means of sharing the rich resources of museums, archives, and other heritage organizations places artifacts and specimens in a meaningful context.
The Heritage Community Foundation, working in a partnership with institutions such as the Alberta Aviation Museum, Telephone Historical Centre, CultureLink, Central Alberta Regional Museums Network (CARMN), City of Edmonton Archives, CKUA Radio Network, and the Spirit of the Peace Museum Network, is making their collections available online.
These digitization projects have been made available through funding programs such as Canada’s Digital Collections, Museums Assistance Program, Virtual Museums of Canada, Canadian Culture Online, Alberta’s Community Initiatives Program (Alberta Lottery Fund), Alberta Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Centennial Legacies Grant Program, Alberta Department of Innovation and Science, Partnerships Fund, and the Wild Rose Foundation.
Collections of museums, archives, and historical societies that have been a largely untapped treasure trove are now being made available with the newest technology of the World Wide Web. The Heritage Community Foundation is providing an entry point to these collections, and is playing a vital role in ongoing heritage research, and bringingincreasing awareness to Alberta’s history and resources.
The Heritage Community Foundation brings the heritage of Alberta to all Albertans. The Foundation challenges and informs all Albertans by discovering, preserving, and presenting Alberta’s heritage. We do this through research and writing, digital technology and web development, educational resource creation, and experiential learning. This work requirzes an expert staff, as well as valuable partnerships and supporters who provide funding, content, and expertise.
Understanding heritage allows us to understand our culture, our history, our environment, our living communities, each other, and ourselves. It takes a great deal of work to discover, preserve, and present what is a part of our culture, history, environment, and our living communities to all Albertans. Albertans who are young and old. Albertans who learn by reading, by viewing, by participating. Albertans who want to learn and understand more about their province. Albertans who understand that this knowledge will mean that our children and our children’s children will better understand their world and how to live in it.
The heritage of Alberta is exciting and alive. As friends, supporters, and partners we value your support.