September 20, 2018

Welcome back and some news

Why get on the bus when you can study online? Students lining up at UBC – I won’t be able to get on my regular 99 bus for the first few weeks of the semester because it will be full of students. Then suddenly, they realise they don’t have to be there all day, every day. Some will even discover online learning! Then I will get my bus back.

Welcome back to all those who have been away on vacation and are just returning or have already returned to work. Here’s what I will be working on over the next couple of months.

The 2018 national survey of online learning

The questionnaire returns for the 2018 national survey of online learning and distance education in Canadian universities and colleges are almost complete, with August 30th as the final, final deadline (that’s when we will start to process data tables). Already about 60% of the institutions have responded and we are expecting another ‘rush’ of completions over the next few days. So if your institution has not completed the questionnaire, there is still time, but you will need to hurry. 

We are planning to have the results out by mid-October in time for several conferences. I will be heavily engaged in writing up the results in early September. 

Pockets of innovation

I will be visiting Manitoba the week of September 24-28 to collect some more pockets of innovation in the use of technology for teaching for Contact North. I am still finalising my schedule but if you are in a Manitoba college or university and have an interesting use of technology for teaching, and are willing to share, please let me know as soon as possible, and I will try to fit you into my schedule, which I hope to have finalised by August 31.

The University of Alberta

I am visiting the University of Alberta on August 30 to do two presentations, one to Campus St.-Jean, the francophone campus of the university (yes, there is a substantial francophone community in Alberta/Western Canada), and one for the rest of the U of A faculty. This is in response to my book, Teaching in a Digital Age.

One presentation in the morning at Campus St.-Jean will focus on why university teaching needs to change, based mainly on external factors such as a changing economy, more diverse students, and of course the need for graduates who can successfully navigate and manage a digital world.

The second presentation on the main campus in the afternoon will focus on the how, with suggestions for new teaching methods focused on skills development and the use of technology, and drawing on the Pockets of Information for examples. This presentation will also discuss some of the structural changes needed to support innovation in teaching. 

The web site

Work is about to begin on the re-design of this web site over the next couple of weeks. The main changes will be in appearance, to simplify the layout and to make navigation easier and more intuitive. I have done most of the structural changes, in terms of organisation of the pages and posts. There should not be any major interruption of service while the re-design is being done.

As part of the re-design, I am developing a personal guide to online learning in different countries, based on my experience of working there, and including some of the photos I have taken while travelling. There are short entries so far on Afghanistan, Argentina and Brazil.

Part of this ‘work in progress’ is a province-by-province guide to online learning in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

So far I have just completed British Columbia. If you work in a BC college or university, please take a look – but remember, it is a personal, not an official, guide. If though I have missed something significant about online learning at your institution, please drop me a line (tony.bates@ubc.ca) and I will update the entry. Next up: Alberta.

As well as reporting on breaking news and developments in the world of online learning, I will also be posting on a theme over the next couple of months. I am thinking at the moment of taking a deeper look at the implications of AI and/or blockchain for online learning, but I’m open to other suggestions.

Good luck

So good luck with your teaching and research over 2018-2019 and I hope you are as excited as I am about the likely developments in online learning over the next academic year.

 

Update on my web site re-design

Downtown Vancouver in winter: I’ve added graphics to many pages, mainly using my own photos

Not very interesting, I’m afraid, but I have made some changes to the structure of my web site prior to a new graphics design, and I’d like readers to be aware of these changes. The aim has been to make search for specific resources easier and to provide eventually a cleaner home page. 

This has been quite a challenge with more than 2,500 posts over a 10 year period. A lot of the changes are boring but necessary maintenance – removing or up-dating dead links, in some cases up-dating earlier posts to take account of later developments, adding graphics, but the main work has been to provide a simplified but logical structure to make search easier and more intuitive. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much there is on many topics, but also where there are large gaps. I want this site though to be as useful as possible as source of information on online and distance education.

Let me know what you think, although the new graphic design is still to be implemented.

Simplified menu on home page

You will see I have reduced the pull-down menus to five:

  • home (front/first page)
  • latest (all posts in chronological order, latest first)
  • resources
  • about Tony Bates
  • contact

Resources page

This is now one page (instead of 10 pull-down pages), with several sub-pages (click on ‘Resources’ in the menu):

About Tony Bates

Several previous home page menu items are now integrated into this one page, with sub-pages. This is the area where I have added a considerable amount of new material:

  • short bio (the sub-page linking to a full CV)
  • my books (finalised)
  • my papers and keynotes
  • videos of my presentations or interviews with me
  • a personal guide to online and distance learning around the world.

This personal guide to online learning around the world is a considerable enlargement of what previously was a carousel of images from different countries. In particular, I am developing a guide to online learning in every province in Canada, combined with my own photographs from within these provinces, as well as a range of other countries. This is a work still in process and will be for the rest of the year.

Next

There is still some tidying up to do to complete changes to some pages, but the next big step will be a complete redesign of the page and post layouts, to give them a cleaner, more visual and more current graphic design. I hope this will be complete by the end of this month.

 

In memoriam: Ingeborg Bø

The used to say that distance educators never die, they just fade away, but alas, that is not true.

Ingeborg, who was Director of the Norwegian Distance Education Association, a trustee of the International Council for Distance Education, and President of EDEN (the European Distance Education Network) never faded away. Despite battling ALS in her later years, she was active in distance education until almost the end.

She was a pioneer of distance education, working with NKI, the Norwegian correspondence school (as it then was) back in the 1970s, which was when I first met her. She was a lovely woman, gentle but firm, who was an excellent chairwoman and negotiator. She always worked to find consensus without losing sight of the clear goals she had for furthering and promoting distance education.

I will miss her dearly. Tusen takk for alt, Ingeborg.

Québec’s Téluq in trouble

A Téluq graduation ceremony in Rimouski
Photo: courtesy of Guillaume D. Cyr

Téluq (the Télé-université within the Université du Québec System) has for many years been a major provider of university-level distance education courses for francophones.

Last Friday afternoon, the Québec Ministry of Higher Education reported that it was investigating compliance of its laws with respect to the relationship between Institut Matci, a private post-secondary institution offering courses mainly to international francophone students, and Téluq.

While this investigation is under way, the current Director-General, Martin Noël, has been suspended indefinitely. An interim director-general has been appointed, Andre G. Roy, who was Secretary-General of Université du Québec since November, 2009.

Téluq has announced that for students, it’s business as usual, and the delivery of courses will not be affected. However, the timing is unfortunate, as Martin Noël was a leading participant in discussions with the ministry about the establishment of eCampus Québec. These discussions are still to be completed before any formal decisions are made about its establishment.

It is too early to speculate, but it seems the investigation is a result of a complaint about a contract with Institut Matci (a private organisation) for tutoring Téluq courses.

 

Notice: website under redesign

This web site is now more than 10 years old, and the design has not changed over this period. In the meantime, there have been several important developments in web site design, and more importantly, there are now over 2,500 posts or pages on the site, making navigation more complex and difficult.

With the assistance of Contact North and MARSworks, work on a new design is taking place during the month of August, the quietest month in terms of traffic.

You should not see many changes until the end of the month or early September, but in the meantime I will be working to provide better indexing of the posts by topic or category, which may result in the odd old post being republished or moved to a new location within the site. I am also taking this opportunity to remove or identify dead links and to add new material and links to update old posts. It will be obvious once the new site goes live, and I will accompany this with a post explaining the changes that have been made.

The main aim of the changes is to make it easier for readers to find posts on specific topics and to access resources on the site more easily. Most of the old features though will be retained.

In the meantime, I apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused during this process.