Below are listed organisations that provide support for the use of information and communications technologies an/or online learning in universities and colleges. Many have their own journals and organise annual conferences, and provide professional networking and support for those interested in and/or using online learning or technology for teaching.
The Canadian Network for Innovation in Education is ‘a national organisation of professionals committed to excellence in the provision of innovation in education in Canada. CNIE is a national, bilingual association committed to excellence in the development, promotion and use of technologies, practices and policies that foster enhanced access to learning for all students in all contexts, especially in K-12 and post-secondary education’. Created in 2007, CNIE is the result of a merger of the Canadian Association for Distance Education (CADE) and the Association for Media and Technology in Education (AMTEC).
eCampuses and networks
Several provinces in Canada have ‘meta-organisations’ funded by provincial governments that help support and co-ordinate online learning, through grants for online courses and/or open educational resources, running workshops or providing faculty development opportunities and resources. These include:
- Contact North, Ontario, funded by the Ontario provincial government, provides
- core services to students in remote regions of Ontario enabling them to access courses from all Ontario online course providers
- over 100 small, local online learning centres
- up-to-date information for faculty and instructors teaching online and at a distance with tools and trends, information on training and professional development programs, and the Pockets of Innovation Series.
- eCampusOntario is funded by the Government of Ontario to be a centre of excellence in online and technology-enabled learning for all publicly-funded colleges and universities in Ontario. It provides grants for online course development and the development of open educational resources, as well as providing opportunities for faculty development;
- BCcampus, funded by the provincial British Columbian government, provides collaborative leadership to provincial universities and colleges through Ministry-identified core lines of service:
- Open Education (it is a world leader in providing open texts and curating OER)
- Shared Curriculum and Learning Resources
- Technology-Enabled Teaching and Learning Shared Services
- Campus Manitoba is a consortium of Manitoba’s public post-secondary institutions and provides:
- centralised access to online courses from Manitoba’s universities and colleges through eCourses Manitoba
- openly licensed textbooks ready for use in the classroom through Open Ed Manitoba;
- eCampus Québec is expected to launch sometime in 2018 or 2019, and to be funded by the provincial government;
- eCampus Alberta was a consortium of universities and colleges in Alberta established to facilitate increased access to high quality online learning opportunities, but closed in March, 2017.
COHERE (Canada’s Collaboration for Online Higher Education Research) is a collaboration of universities focusing on the research and practice of blended and online learning within higher education.
WCET was founded by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) to meet a growing need to integrate distance learning and educational technology into the academic services of higher education institutions in the western region. From its western roots, the work of WCET has grown to serve members across the U.S. and Canada. The WCET Frontiers blog keeps members abreast of current developments in educational technology and online learning.
The Online Learning Consortium
The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) fosters and supports educators, leaders, online learning professionals, and organizations around the world who are shaping the future of higher education. It started out as the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) in 1999 and changed to the OLC in 2004. It provides a full range of member services including annual conferences, professional development webinars, publishing the OLC journal, Online Learning, (formerly known as the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks), and sponsoring research initiatives. In 2012, it had approximately 300 institutional and 700 individual dues-paying members.
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. This is the major post-secondary organisation in North America dealing with e-learning issues, with membership from all the leading universities and colleges within the region. Its conferences and publications focus on integrating IT and academic issues.
The National Center for Academic Transformation) is ‘an independent non-profit organisation dedicated to the effective use of information technology to improve student learning outcomes and reduce the cost of higher education. NCAT provides expertise and support to institutions and organisations seeking proven methods for providing more students with the education they need to prosper in today’s economy.’ NCAT is headed by Dr. Carol A. Twigg, and works with universities and Boards of Regents across the USA.
The European Distance Education and e-Learning Network ‘exists to share knowledge and improve understanding for professionals in distance and e-learning across the whole of Europe and beyond, and to promote policy and practice for this field of endeavour’. This organisation has membership from key institutions involved in e-learning from almost every country in Europe.
The European Foundation for Quality in e-Learning)’s mission is ‘to enhance the quality of eLearning in Europe by providing services and support for all stakeholders. EFQUEL is built on principles of dialogue and inclusiveness to promote excellence and innovation to achieve Learning Europe’.
the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education is ‘a society for those involved in tertiary computer-based education and training, including educational interactive multimedia. It provides a forum to stimulate discussion of relevant issues in the educational use of technology, as well as promoting research and evaluation.’
The Commonwealth of Learning
The Commonwealth of Learning is ‘an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.’ It provides consultancy, resources and services for the use of ICTs in developing nations.
The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education
the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education conducts ‘state-of-the-art research, disseminates best practices, emerging trends, policy frameworks and assessment and quality assurance information; and develops strategic partnerships with public and private universities and organisations for the effective delivery of borderless higher education academic programmes and services. The Observatory’s primary purpose is to provide strategic information to enable policy-makers and institutional-organisational leaders to make informed decisions relevant to their existing and/or future transnational higher education initiatives.’ The work of this organisation is particularly useful for those concerned about globalisation issues surrounding the use of ICTs for education.
OEB Global is a set of commercial conferences on e-learning, particularly but not exclusively focused on corporate training. The conferences are usually in Berlin each December.
eLearning Africa is the most comprehensive conference on ICT for development, education and training on the African continent. Its mission is to bring people together who are actively engaged in education and in the implementation of learning technologies in schools, universities, corporate training as well as in education in the public sector. Participants are high-level decision-makers such as Ministers of Education, representatives from government agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), development agencies and international organisations, senior executives from businesses, as well as practitioners from all fields of education.
I would strongly recommend any conference organised by these organisations.