Plans for an Ontario Online Institute move forward

Tony Bates, e-learning, distance education resources, Mar 01, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Tony Bates reports on the launch of a new Ontario Online Institute and the appointment of Maxim Jean-Louis as its director. Ontario has a solid record of success in online learning (see also: Ontario Learn and Ontario edubloggers). And Jean-Louis is perfectly positioned, coming from years of experience with Contact North. Citing numerous submissions from stakeholders, Bates reports "there already seems to be a high level of consensus among stakeholders on the form and function of the Institute. All argue that a large, new central institution offering its own credentials should be avoided, and that the focus of the Institute should be to add value at a system level to the wide range of services already offered by the individual institutions."

Bates also looks at what Ontario can learn from B.C. success such as BC Campus. Paul Stacey, who has been with BC Campus for years, offers a comprehensive overview of the project. Bates summarizes:
- Setting aside a relatively small amount of money each year to address gaps in the system and to encourage collaboration can have a very big pay-off
- Central funding with conditions enables the development of a wide range of sharable open educational resources.
- Collaboration between institutions enables students to access a wider range of credentials across the whole province
- Collaborative programming has been helped tremendously by a comprehensive system of pre-agreed credit transfers between institutions.

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