Online University Education in Canada

George Siemens, elearnspace, Jan 24, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

George Siemens links to this report which says there isn't much innovation in online education in Canada. The report states, "Online education, particularly in Canada, has often been perceived as a poor fit with education and training needs... lack of Canadian data and strategy, lack of collaboration, and lack of resources targeted to online university education remain barriers." In particular, says the report, "Canada has weak national innovation indicators... Online education’s ability to foster workplace innovation and STEM growth is not being maximized... (and) Canadian online innovations (virtual environments, integrated learning systems) are ad hoc." Moreover, "The United States is demonstrating leadership in online education innovation thanks to broad‐based national and philanthropic support... Canadian shared e‐resource development projects tend to be provincial (limited) in scope... Open Education Resources offer the potential for cost and utility benefits, but face challenges related to support, resourcing, and systems."

From where I sit, a lot of innovation is happening in Canada. As Siemens notes, "On a personal note, I was pleased to see that University of Manitoba listed the work Stephen Downes and I have done with massive open online courses (MOOCs) as an innovation (p. 31)." But what usually happens is that the innovation is not recognized until it is adopted elsewhere. And I think the report does have a point about the lack of financial and institutional support (not that I believe a 'national strategy' would change that). Well, meanwhile, there's a whole lot of free learning going on.
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