Popular website on New World wins four awards

January 12, 2006, vol. 35, no. 1
By Marianne Meadahl

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A unique website about the peopling of the New World created at SFU for the Virtual Museum of Canada has drawn more than two million hits and garnered four major awards since opening a year ago.

Soon, A Journey to a New Land - www.sfu.museum/journey - will have a partner site. A Journey into Time Immemorial, its current working title, will feature a First Nations perspective on the subject.

The Virtual Museum is providing an additional $220,000 for the latest project, which will be a collaboration between SFU, the Xa:ytem Interpretive Centre and the Squamish Nation.

“The first project was designed to lead users, from primary school children to post-secondary students and beyond, through archaeological research on the New World,” says Barb Winter, curator of SFU's museum of archaeology and ethnology. Its logical other half, she adds, is to go beyond archaeology and focus on the First Nations perspective. “This will be a venue for these First Nations groups to say something about their communities and bring the message of First Nations out of the archaeological past and into the present,” says Winter.

The new site will feature interactive games and other multimedia features comprised of the ideas and goals of the project's partners, Winter says.

Students have spent the past year working on potential story lines and the site will be completed by the end of next year.

Winter says the site will contain a similar style of stunning graphics that made A Journey to a New Land so popular.

Designed by SFU's learning and instructional development centre, the site features interactive games for younger levels and more than 60 video clips. The clips featuring SFU researchers talking about their work, including not only archaeologists but earth scientists and biologists, targeted at older students and the general public.

A study guide and Power Point presentation have also been produced and sold throughout North America.

The website recently received a top prize for excellence from the international University and College Designers Association.

It also won the digital education achievement award given by the Canadian Archaeological Association, a first place, integrated multi-focus award from the U.S. based Digital Education Achievement Association and was a third place winner in the education category of Vancouver's VIDFEST 2005 interactive design competition.

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