Thursday, August 28, 2014

Flexible Education Strategies for at Canadian Universities

After attending a  Flexible Learning Strategy Workshop at University of British Colombia (UBC) in Vancouver last week, I went across town to see what was happening at Simon Fraser University (SFU). There is a SFU have a Task Force on Flexible Education. This goes beyond just flipping the classroom with some on-line videos and considers how to redesign campuses and programs of study to make them more flexible.

I met with David Porter  from BCcampus, which works to get collaboration between BC's post-secondary institutions David is the co-author of the course "Ventures in Learning Technology" at the University of British Colombia and will be visiting NSW and Tasmania in early November for open education meetings of OERu. The OERu is providing low cost open educaitonal materials. One which got my attention was the e-Learning Maturity Model (eMM) course.

The SFU Task Force on Flexible Education Terms of Reference are:
  1. Produce an inventory of institutionally-supported learning technologies and service units at SFU that support credit and non-credit programs,
  2. Perform an environmental scan of trends and directions in flexible learning being used at other post-secondary institutions,
  3. Engage in a broad consultation with the university community on the objectives for and issues concerning the development of flexible learning environments,
  4. Identify effective and leading-edge practices by referring to the academic literature and efforts undertaken at other institutions,
  5. Rely on the investigative work carried out in 1. though 4. to establish thematic working groups consisting of members of the university community with appropriate expertise that would explore various aspects of flexible learning and develop recommendations on an institutional strategy for flexible education at SFU, and
  6. Develop an implementation plan for putting the recommendations into effect, including

    a) a resource model which supports the growth and sustainment of flexible education at SFU,
    b) a compilation of examples of effective practice that could be adopted and/or refashioned by SFU to create its flexible learning environments, and
    c) a support model which facilitates faculty engagement in the use of new technologies and pedagogies. 

The BC Campus Open Textbook Project currently has 62 free open access textbooks available for use.

Meanwhile in Australia, UNE has decided to discontinue its disaggregated approach to charging for on-line courses, where students could undertake a course for  $495, plus $35 an hour for group tutoring and $150 an hour for individual tutoring ("UNE shuts down its loss-making MOOCs", Tim Dodd, The Financial Review, 25 August 2014).

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