Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Criticism of a recent report from the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies (AIMS) on online learning in eastern Canada. I covered the report reasonably favourably. But the Nova Scotia Teacher's Union (NSTU) was not happy and neither was Grant Frost, both of which call the report's author to task for understating the scale of online learning innovation in the province. "Close to 30,000 of our approximately 119,000 public school students are engaged, at some level at least, in online learning," writes Frost. Well, he has a point - the AIMS study uses misleading and sloppy statistics to argue that only 2.2 percetn of students are enrolled in online learning. And there's the ubiquitous pro-privatization argument that mars anything AIMS does.

But from the other side of the ledger, I would argue that 25% - the number Frost gives is - is low. In 2016, in an advanced information age economy, the number should be close to 100%. Can you imagine that 75% of students aren't doing any online learning? I have no doubt about the teachers' commitment. But provincially (across Atlantic Canada) there is a failure to invest. And a failure to invest is exactly what creates openings for things like this AIMS article. It wobbles the mind.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 6:47 p.m.