Distance Education in Canada: Access and Quality


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Presentation to the ANUIES conference, Monterrey, Mexico, April 2005

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  • Distance Education in Canada: Access and Quality

    1. 1. Distance Education in Canada: Access and Quality <ul><li>Mark Bullen </li></ul><ul><li>University of British Columbia </li></ul>
    2. 2. Distance Education in Canada
    3. 3. Outline <ul><li>Access, quality and appropriateness in the Canadian context </li></ul><ul><li>The Canadian education system </li></ul><ul><li>Distance education in Canada </li></ul><ul><li>Distance education technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Quality assurance </li></ul><ul><li>The University of British Columbia </li></ul><ul><li>Distance education at UBC </li></ul>
    4. 4. The Canadian Education System <ul><li>Influenced by geography, size </li></ul><ul><li>Canada: a federation </li></ul><ul><li>Education a provincial responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>10 education systems </li></ul><ul><li>Some federal funding </li></ul>
    5. 5. Higher Education in Canada <ul><li>Colleges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Career programs, university preparation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Institutes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical, vocational </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Universities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research, graduate, undergraduate </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Universities <ul><li>Mainly public institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Few private universities </li></ul><ul><li>92 public universities </li></ul><ul><li>Vary in size: 3,000 - 40,000 students </li></ul>
    7. 7. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lifelong learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social mandate </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>History </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Queens University, 1889 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Athabasca University, 1972 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>T élé-Université, 1972 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Learning Institute, 1978 </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Three “single mode” distance teaching universities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Athabasca University (Alberta) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BC Open University (British Columbia) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>part of Thompson Rivers University - consortium </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Telé-Université (Québec) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>part of Université de Québec </li></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Consortia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Canadian Virtual University </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consortium of 11 universities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Smaller universities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2200 courses and 280 degrees available by combining courses </li></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Distance Education in Canada Provincial consortia
    12. 12. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Most traditional universities also have distance education programs </li></ul><ul><li>E-learning as mixed mode growing faster than distance education </li></ul><ul><li>Growth of mixed mode e-learning causing organizational restructuring </li></ul>
    13. 13. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Distance education traditionally supported by non-Faculty units </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed mode e-learning tends to be Faculty-based </li></ul><ul><li>Supported by practitioners with a different professional profile </li></ul>
    14. 14. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Quality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Course development process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integration of DE in conventional universities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization - central, professional support </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Appropriateness,Access </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pay attention to audience </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Quality Assurance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is an external process really needed to ensure the quality of distance education? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why does quality only seem to be an issue for DE? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is quality? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of what? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whose quality? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will it be measured? </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Quality Assurance Issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Objective standards vs. subjective standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technical issues much easier to standardize </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pedagogical issues much more subjective </li></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Quality Assurance in Canada </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Course development processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic review </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional context, credibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No formal quality assurance processes </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Quality Assurance Guidelines <ul><li>Performance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the finished product should operate in an effective way, as determined by the end-user. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Features </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the ‘bells and whistles’ incorporated into the finished product should be appropriate, and not detract from the overall objectives of the project. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reliability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the finished product should not be subject to malfunction. </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Quality Assurance Guidelines <ul><li>Conformance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the finished product should comply with industry standards, using standard technologies (though those technologies can be pushed to their utmost) and reflect established education theory. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Durability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the finished product should be relevant and either timeless (in the case of teaching established principles) or easily updated. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Serviceability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>it should be easy to repair or adjust the finished product as required. </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Quality Assurance Guidelines <ul><li>Aesthetics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the overall ‘feel’ of the finished product should be professional and user-friendly. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Perceived Quality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the finished product should enhance the reputation of the institution as a quality e-learning provider. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(From: Development of a Quality Assurance System for E-Learning Projects , Mark Nichols, 2002) </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Quality Assurance Guidelines <ul><li>Emphasis on technical issues </li></ul><ul><li>Complex </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult or costly to measure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can measureable standards be established? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consumer guidelines vs. external assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it better to equip consumers with guidelines rather than impose costly and cumbersome external assessment? </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Quality Assurance Guidelines <ul><li>Quality assurance should apply to all education </li></ul><ul><li>Develop distance education using processes that help to ensure quality </li></ul><ul><li>Organization has been the key to the quality of DE in Canada: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>DE integrated into conventional universities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supported by central departments of professionals </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Distance education technologies in Canada </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Correspondence (print-based) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online (e-learning) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Video conferencing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audio conferencing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Television </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others: CD, video </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Technology selection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>driven primarily by access considerations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>many learners do not have reliable or cheap Internet access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>43% of Canadian households have broadband Internet access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>65% have some form of Internet access </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>ACTIONS (Bates, 1995) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teaching and learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Novelty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Speed </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Distance Education in Canada <ul><li>Appropriate use of technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nursing - delayed use of online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Medicine - mobile learning </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. University of British Columbia Oldest and largest university in BC Founded in 1914 Second largest in Canada (after U of Toronto)
    28. 28. University of British Columbia 40,000 students (undergraduate and graduate) 4,054 international students (150 from Mexico)
    29. 29. University of British Columbia <ul><li>2,000 full time faculty </li></ul><ul><li>8,000 staff </li></ul><ul><li>Budget: $1 Billion </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on graduate programs and research </li></ul>
    30. 30. University of British Columbia <ul><li>Four campuses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3 - Vancouver; 1 - Okanagan </li></ul></ul><ul><li>11 Faculties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Arts, Science, Education, Medicine, Applied Science, Forestry, Agricultural Sciences, Law, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Business </li></ul></ul>
    31. 31. Distance Education at UBC <ul><li>6,000 distance education enrollments </li></ul><ul><li>Steady increase since 1995 (+58%) </li></ul><ul><li>110 courses </li></ul><ul><li>All new course development online since 1998 </li></ul>
    32. 32. Distance Education at UBC <ul><li>Distance Education & Technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Central support department for distance education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operating since 1949 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff of 22 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>instructional designers, web programmers, graphic designers, learner support </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizational change </li></ul></ul>
    33. 33. Distance Education at UBC <ul><li>Distance education courses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mostly undergraduate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graduate and professional area is growing faster </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New online programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Master of Educational Technology , Rehabilitation Sciences, Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing </li></ul></ul></ul>
    34. 34. The Project Management Approach
    35. 35. The Project Management Approach <ul><li>Team-based </li></ul><ul><li>Centrally supported, coordinated, funded </li></ul><ul><li>Four phases </li></ul><ul><li>Quality assurance is built in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of professional instructional designers, graphic designer, web programmer and multimedia specialists - professional standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Built in academic review by external reviewer at two points in the process - academic standards </li></ul></ul>
    36. 36. Summary <ul><li>Access and appropriateness are linked </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inaccessible technology is inappropriate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessible technology not necessarily appropriate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to understand our audience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quality depends on process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Development process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integration in conventional universities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization - central, professional support </li></ul></ul>
    37. 37. Distance Education at UBC Questions ?