Jan. 23, 2008
The technology used to deliver distance education across Newfoundland and Labrador is becoming more advanced, offering a 21st century learning experience for students taking distance education courses.
Joan Burke, minister of Education, announced Jan. 22 that Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic and the K-12 education system, have teamed up with Desire2Learn, a world-leading provider of e-learning technology, to provide a common, cutting-edge technology system in the public education system.
About $1.3 million will be invested to bring this technology to students.
“Newfoundland and Labrador continues to be a leader in the field of on-line education,” said Minister Burke. “This is the first time in any jurisdiction in North America that all public educational institutions have come together to provide students with a common technology. Students moving from high school into post-secondary, who are continuing to take courses though distance education, will no longer have to learn or adapt to a new system.
"The same will apply for students who may move from the college to the university or vice versa. Students will use the same teaching and learning software throughout the course of their education.”
The previous technology was in place since 1999. A new learning management system was needed for the province based on significant advances in web-based learning resources and teaching practices.
The announcement is also in keeping with the White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education, which recommended greater collaboration between the college and the university in the delivery of distance education. Existing distance education courses have been transferred to the new learning management system and training sessions for teachers and faculty have begun.
“Memorial University is proud to partner with the college and K-12 system in this province,” said Eddy Campbell, acting president of Memorial University. “Our Distance Education and Learning Technologies Department is constantly working to keep Memorial and the province on the leading edge of new technologies. This partnership is a great example of how working together benefits all of the students studying in our province. It is our expectation that this new learning management system will significantly change the way in which we think about the delivery of knowledge, both at a distance, and on-campus.”
The number of students registering for distance education courses has continued to rise since it was first introduced. Today, about 1,000 students in Levels I, II and III are doing a portion of their high school program through 1,650 course registrations.
College of the North Atlantic has some 4,000 course registrations from students in over 350 different communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as students from all over Canada and internationally.
Memorial University has over 15,000 course registrations in the last academic year from all over the province and as far away as the U.K., China and India.
“This collaboration provides strategic benefits for the partners and for learners at every level in the provincial education system,” said Jean Madill, president of College of the North Atlantic. “Learners in Newfoundland and Labrador will experience the same technology platform throughout their education and they will benefit from the shared resources, leadership and expertise of the partners.”
College of the North Atlantic, MUN, and the K-12 system, through the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation, will have a strong working relationship with Desire2Learn. They will explore research and development opportunities to grow the learning management system, ensuring the province’s distance learning technologies remain cutting-edge.
“We are thrilled to have been chosen to work with such a unique partnership,” said John Baker, Desire2Learn President and CEO. “I look forward to working with Newfoundland and Labrador’s educational leaders across the K-12, college and university levels.
"This unique partnership will be closely watched by many other jurisdictions - it is a model for collaboration and enhancing teaching and learning.”
The Provincial Government continues to make key investments to ensure full educational opportunities to students in rural, remote and isolated areas. Some examples of these investments include $111 million in school construction projects at the K-12 level, new curriculum and learning resources introduced province-wide, improved infrastructure at college and university campuses and increased the number of distance education courses at all levels of the education system.
“We recognize the importance of education to the province’s sustained economic growth and social vitality,” said the minister. “This is why we are determined to make education at all levels equitable and affordable. But it must also be accessible. By introducing a common learning system for all students, we are improving accessibility for all.”