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Rural students to benefit from improved distance learning opportunities

July 19, 2007

The provincial government has announced new funding for distance education courses and programs from Memorial.

Education Minister Joan Burke released the details on Thursday, July 19, in St. George's, NL.

The expansion of distance education programs will be of direct benefit to students in rural communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

The investment of $1.5 million from government means students in rural Newfoundland and Labrador will have access to 72 new distance education courses from Memorial over the next three years.

Minister Burke said these courses address some of the development needs of professional groups, as well as the needs of individual rural learners in the province.

“Education is the cornerstone for personal and economic growth, but not all students can make the move to one of the university’s campuses,” she said. “We need to take courses to the students in these cases. Increasing accessibility through distance learning means students can advance their education, regardless of their physical location.”

The White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education noted the importance of post-secondary education to the province’s sustained economic growth and social vitality. The report also highlighted the need for greater access to post-secondary education and improved responsiveness of the system to the changing needs of students.

Over the next three years, new online courses will be developed for the following programs of study: Arts; Education - Bachelor of Post-Secondary Education; Engineering – Master of Engineering Management; and Human Kinetics and Recreation - Master of Physical Education. As well, the development of graduate programs in arts and business are being explored. 

“Memorial University is proud of its history as a leader in distance education," said President Axel Meisen. “Distance registrations currently account for approximately 10 per cent of Memorial's overall enrollments. The Internet and other multimedia technologies allow us to open up new opportunities for rural and mature students that are relevant to their needs and to the needs of the province. In addition, this mode of learning is convenient for older learners who are in the workforce and over 60 per cent of our distance students are 25 years of age or older.”

Minister Burke noted that increasing enrolment in distance education is an on-going trend, one that is being fully embraced by the department with such initiatives as the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI). The centre is engaging students through distance education at the secondary level, thus introducing them to a mode of education delivery that services rural, remote and isolated regions of the province.

“Serving the needs of rural and mature students in our province is paramount to why we exist and what we do in distance education,” said Ann Marie Vaughan, director, Distance Education and Learning Technologies.

“Even with life, time or distance constraints, distance education can help in achieving educational goals. Resident’s of our province who do not live in close proximity to one of Memorial’s campuses will have expanded opportunities to get an education as we deliver quality education from Memorial to them in the comfort of their own home. We are truly appreciative of this support from the Provincial Government to enable us to expand our offerings.”

“Advancing technology, especially to benefit rural areas of the province, is a goal of the Williams Government. The Internet and World Wide Web open up a whole new learning dynamic as individuals can study anywhere on the planet. Distance education courses allow flexibility for the learner, a key requirement for professionals and students wanting to further their education. With these new courses in place, professional growth and development in key educational programs are just a click away,” added Minister Burke. 

Memorial@Home is Memorial University of Newfoundland’s distance education service. Currently, over 350 undergraduate and graduate degree-credit courses are offered across 10 faculties and schools. Approximately 13,000 registrations annually from across the province, the country and around the world. Full undergraduate level degrees are available via distance in Business, Nursing (Post RN/BN), Technology and Maritime Studies as well as graduate level programs in Nursing and four streams in Master of Education.

For information visit www.distance.mun.ca.


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