This is really a posting for Canadian readers, but we’re not too proud to take suggestions from anywhere!
I have the honour of being invited by the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Science and Technology to give my views on what should be done to increase access to post-secondary education in Canada, on Thursday this week.
Unlike others invited to present, I represent no particular interest groups (except me). I’m therefore very open for your suggestions.
Regular readers of this site will know what my views are on this (see Six priorities for Canadian e-learning in 2010). I will be arguing that campus-based institutions need to provide more flexible delivery of their programs to accommodate changing demographics and the fact that a majority of Canadian students are now lifelong learners. This means redesign of courses to include hybrid learning. I will be pushing also for a national centre for digital learning that focuses on policy and priorities for technology-based teaching in Canada.
But these are just my ideas. I’d really like to hear from you about what you think the Federal government (which has limited powers regarding post-secondary education, mainly a provincial responsibility) should do. But I need your comments as soon as possible, as I leave for Ottawa on Wednesday.
I think that along with flexibility, relevancy is key. In the information-rich environment, students find ways of learning about what is of interest to them, and they need to have this learning taken to the next level and accredited through working with experts. So the system needs to acknowledge that deep learning can occur outside of an institutional setting. And of course this means change to government funding structures for education. It’s not about hours-in-the-classroom anymore.
I visualize a “design-your-own certificate” program in which students customize their own competency frameworks with guidance from an advisory panel then use learning plans, electronic portfolios, “authentic” competency-based assessments, and professional peer-based review of skills and knowledge to achieve credit equivalency.
And, without being flippant, would our government consider Sir Ken Robinson as a consultant to this committee?
I must say that the “create your own certificate” idea is a very good idea that I can really second! Today, you can basically find all the information you need about almost anything online or through some masterclass or tutor who can help you out and I think that it is important that one can take an education that is relevant and interesting.
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I would rephrase the question to how can we increase access to post secondary level learning. Given the huge and growing list of suppliers and co-creators of learning content and learning experiences, the postsecondary system needs to get its head around its new role as just one of many suppliers. By focussing on testing, linking learners, credentialing, diagnosing and crediting all types of learning experiences, and research on more effective ways to learn, the post secondary can continue to provide valued service in a world full of learning opportunity.
Good luck at the hearings, Tony
A new trend here in the US is internet learning. The 12 year girl next door is studying this way since she is a very sweet, shy kid and she was being terrorized by some of the harder elements at her school. Although I think the social aspect of regular school is very critical for kids and teens who need to learn how to navigate outside the protection of their own home, I think for adults wanting to continue or expand their education, it’s perfect. There are many benefits – cost effective, no physical facility needed, people can learn at their own pace, whenever they want without a commute.
With the bad economic situation, there is more need than ever for people to start their own businesses, which of course creates more jobs. I think there needs to be programs in starting a small business and entrepreneurship instead of the usual business degrees like MBAs. – ellyn deuink