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Assignment 3: A Report on the State of E-Learning in British Columbias Post-Secondary Education System for the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology Diana Ng ETEC 520 65A The University of British Columbia Total word count (excluding references): 3380

REPORT ON E-LEARNING Executive Summary This report will provide insight and advice to the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology on the state of e-learning in British Columbias post-secondary institutions. Key issues will include the educational context, provincial policies for e-learning,

regulation of profit-based e-learning programs, critical analysis of current policies and initiatives, as well as recommendations of alternative options. The Educational Context According to the BC Education Quality Assurance (n.d.), BCs major research universities have consistently ranked among the best in the world. Furthermore, BCs postsecondary education system is world renowned for its comprehensive nature and flexible learning opportunities it offers students (Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials, 2010). The Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology (2013), acknowledges that more than 440,000 students are expected to enrol in at least one course at British Columbias 25 public post-secondary institutions- completing classes at 1 of 130 campuses, via distance education or learning centres throughout the province. Successful e-learning initiatives led to the establishment of the BCcampus in 2002. It was developed with a mandate to provide British Columbia learners with a web-based access point linking students to online learning programs and support services. Since then, it has created a range of tools and services to enhance the online learning courses offered by BCs publicly funded post-secondary institutions. Distance education is also supported by BCcampus as it promotes a collaborative approach among post-secondary institutions within BC with the aim to make education available to all students including those in rural and urban communities. In 2007, the BC government commissioned a report on the future of British Columbia's

REPORT ON E-LEARNING post-secondary education system called Campus 2020: Thinking Ahead. As a result of the recommendations from this report, Capilano College and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design were established as teaching-intensive universities in 2008. Currently, post-secondary education within BC includes 11 public universities, 11 public colleges and 3 public institutes which deliver 1,900 education and training programs to over 430,000 students (Gilmore, 2013). According to the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (2010), they consist of the following publicly funded post-secondary structures:

Colleges: Camosun College, College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, Douglas College, Langara College, Okanagan College, North Island College, Northern Lights College, Northwest Community College, Selkirk College, and Vancouver Community College Institutes: British Columbia Institute of Technology, Justice Institute of British Columbia, and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Research-intensive universities: Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, University of Northern British Columbia, and University of Victoria Teaching-intensive universities: Capilano University, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Royal Roads University, Thompson Rivers University, University of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island University.

In February 2013, British Columbia led the way with Canadas first publicly funded open textbook project. Coordinated by BCcampus, a publicly funded organization that aims to have higher education available to everyone through the use of collaborative information technology services, this project begins a move to offer openly accessible, online textbooks for first and

REPORT ON E-LEARNING second year post-secondary courses deemed high-impact and high-enrolment. Since 2003, the B.C. government has provided $9.5 million dollars to support the BCcampus Online Program

Development Fund, which enables the creation of online courses, textbooks, manuals, videos and other learning materials (Gilmore, 2013). Once completed, these materials are licensed and uploaded to the Shareable Online Learning Resources Repository (SOL*R) at BCcampus where public post-secondary educators can freely share online learning resources. Open textbooks developed under this new program will similarly be made available to everyone (Gilmore, 2013). This illustrates how BCcampus continues to promote collaboration to support BCs post secondary education system. Provincial Policies for E-Learning According to the Campus 2020 report by Plant (2007), BC will be one of the highest spending provinces supporting basic and applied research. By, 2015 BC will achieve the highest level of participation in post-secondary education per capita in Canada, confer more postsecondary credentials than any province and rank top in the country on quality measures focused on student achievement (Plant, 2007). Subsequently, in 2020, it is anticipated that participation and attainment rates will be equalized across the provinces regions (Plant, 2007). Thus, there are two provincial structures that are proposed for e-learning policy-making: 1) a higher education presidents council to facilitate collaborative, coordinated e -learning planning among all post-secondary institutions within the province and 2) a public interest higher education board to measure progress of the entire e-learning sector in achieving government goals for post-secondary education from an integrated life-long learning perspective. In 2001, the Premiers Technology Council was developed to provide advice on all technology-related issues facing BC. As we move towards a knowledge based society, the PTC (2013) recommends that

REPORT ON E-LEARNING the government consider developing technological infrastructure for education systems, use technology to improve government service delivery in post-secondary education and e-learning, as well as developing programs to enhance the knowledge-based economy. One of the current initiatives underway is the examination of the BC governments technology strategy to provide recommendations for achieving greater economic benefits (PTC, 2013). Thus, with this newly elected government, I advise that it plays a fundamental role in the establishment of provincial and federal policies on e-learning in post-secondary education. Regulation of Profit-based E-Learning Programs The Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology is responsible for regulating and encouraging for-profit e-learning programs from outside the provincial jurisdiction. The main goals are to support and promote competition, encourage public and private sector institutions and enhance the development of partnerships and consortia. Additionally, the governments role in managing telecommunications networks is crucial to improving reliable and cost-effective internet access in educational institutions within BCs

urban, rural and remote communities. For example, the establishment of the Provincial Learning Network (2013) has helped over 1800 schools, post-secondary and public institutions within BC to connect over a secure, managed, high-speed network. Although, PLNet is funded by the BC Ministry of Education and Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, it should also maximize its work with private sector partnerships to deliver, expand and sustain this educational network infrastructure even further. The role of government in planning and managing technology-based e-learning should be relatively stable in order to encourage and support developing infrastructure, industry growth, innovation, and research in an effective, organized, and sustainable manner. It is also essential to


prevent the unnecessary duplication of efforts, and to lead the path in developing a unified vision and plan of e-learning programs within BC and across Canada. Bates (2001) recommends the following priorities for governments planning and managing e-learning in post-secondary education at the national level: 1) delivering cost-effective instruction to underserved populations, 2) increasing capacity of all post-secondary institutions to utilize technology in their teaching and research, 3) addressing economic development goals by aligning post-secondary education and training, 4) developing a unified framework of e-learning best practices, and 5) using sustainable funding strategies to support e-learning initiatives. Ultimately, the BC government has a tremendous opportunity to develop appropriate conditions for e-learning in a strategic manner. Developing and implementing academic funding policies can help motivate post-secondary institutions to explore e-learning in new and creative ways. As well, creating a shared, collective vision for the role of e-learning in relation to postsecondary education could have major positive implications in future technology planning. Critical Analysis of Current Policies & Initiatives BCs Technology Strategy (2012) report illustrates the governments attempts to accelerate technology commercialization and adoption, develop regional strengths to create new opportunities, develop talent for a knowledge-based economy and expand technology markets within BC. Bates (2011) credits BC for its innovation thus far, as Ontario has a lot to learn in regards to e-learning initiatives such as the strengths of the BCcampus. Funded by the BC governments Ministry of Advanced Education, the success of the BC Campus ultimately lies in its collaborative nature that connects the expertise, programs and resources of all BC postsecondary institutions. BCcampuss Online Program Development Fund offers centralized funding opportunities for post-secondary institutions to develop shared, open-source educational

REPORT ON E-LEARNING resources. These collaborative efforts have also led to a more comprehensive system of transfer credits via the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer (2013) which directly benefits students and offers them greater flexibility in transferring coursework from academic institutions within BC. BCs governmental strategies include Open School BC (2013) which provides K-12 educational resources for BCs distance education schools. However, I would argue that the BCcampus should be further expanded to include comprehensive resources for distance

education as well. Furthermore, PLNet, the Provincial Learning Network is sponsored by the BC Ministries of Education and Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, and works with other ministries and private sector partners to provide a secure, high-speed internet connection and reliable network infrastructure throughout BCs schools and post -secondary institutions. Another initiative includes the Electronic Health Library of BC (2013), a consortium whose aim is to purchase online health knowledge resources and supported by 3 provincial ministries. Additionally, the BC Ministry of Education supports the Rural Education Network (2013), an electronic community of educators, trustees, parents and community members to develop and share their expertise, and the Distributed Learning framework (2013) where the BC government and its partners support distance learning for rural and urban students in BC enabling for greater flexibility to learn outside of the classroom. Recent initiatives include Universitas 21 (n.d.), which is a leading global network of research intensive universities working together to foster innovation through research-inspired teaching and learning. Collectively, 24 members enroll over 1.3 million students and employ over 180,000 faculty and staff. UBC is part of this collective effort to innovate and excel in a collaborative manner with other academic institutions. However, this is a key area where the

REPORT ON E-LEARNING government could support this endeavor through grant funding. A centralized funding agency could assist leading researchers examine e-learning further through studies and innovative teaching and learning practices. Furthermore, the Canadian Virtual University (2009) are a local Canadian group of universities specializing in online and distance education, collaborating to

increase access to quality assured university education. All members are a part of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and adhere to AUCCs principles of institutional quality assurance in Canadian higher education. Students benefit from this collective effort, as they are able to enroll in a variety of courses from several universities and save administrative fees, obtain transfer credits, and even begin university while in high school. Participating universities benefit by creating new online programs by using courses already developed by other partner universities, and sharing marketing, student advising, administration services, program development and best practices. However, UBC is not a member university. As such, I would recommend that all 11 BC public universities participate in this initiative in order to further advance and promote the collaboration of universities across Canada. As well, since the purposes of the BCcampus and Canadian Virtual University may overlap, I recommend that it be linked together or amalgamated into one to prevent the unnecessary duplication of efforts. Another group called the Global Universities in Distance Education was developed in 2005 by Marconi University to develop and support international cooperation and open and distance learning worldwide. GUIDE promotes the implementation of innovative results, insights and best practices to address the current and future needs of regional and international stakeholders. They also highlight potential areas for strategic partnerships and transnational collaboration. Current members within BC include Royal Roads University and Thompson Rivers University. This again appears to be similar to Universitas 21 and perhaps a partnership

REPORT ON E-LEARNING could develop to minimize any overlap or crossover. In regards to international efforts in elearning, there is a great deal of potential for e-learning to contribute to the economic growth of the province of BC. A strategic e-learning policy is necessary to understand the extent of collaboration and cooperation across jurisdictions, countries and public/private sectors. The Canadian Council on Learning (2009) provided a report on the State of E-Learning in Canada. They highlighted the provincial governments role in BCcampus in that the online portal has helped facilitate over 15,000 enrolments in online courses offered since its inception. BCcampus uses information technology to connect the expertise, programs and resources of all

BC post-secondary institutions using a collaborative service model. Yet, the challenge for the BC government remains in reaching a consensus and understanding on the evidence on e-learning as a tool for learning, examining the gaps and future directions, expert consensus on e-learning from multiple perspectives and public policies from provincial, territorial and federal levels of government. However, Anderson (2009) criticizes that the Canadian Council on Learnings (2009) report basically reiterates recommendations from the action plan by the Advisory Committee on Online Learning (2001). It seems that to date, e-learning has failed to make the provincial and federal government agenda in Canada. Since 2001 and 2009, these action plans have yet to be implemented. Although the State of E-Learning (2009) report calls for vision, research, and effort needed by Canadian governments, educational institutions and businesses, all of these are essential to developing a strategic advantage in e-learning over other countries. Several other considerations from this report includes Canadas efforts in e -learning trailing behind other countries, low levels of collaboration across jurisdictions is resulting in unnecessary duplication of efforts and costs, lack of Canadian data related to e-learning,

REPORT ON E-LEARNING specifically empirical and longitudinal research on e-learning that details the effectiveness of

current Canadian e-learning initiatives (Canadian Council on Learning, 2009). Also, barriers still remain at the university level including infrastructure, funding, staffing issues, and faculty resistance due to added workload and intellectual property issues. Moreover, although lifelong learning is at the centre of policy discussions and technology is transforming education in most cases there has been minimal planning for a shared vision of elearning for the future. Research findings that have been gathered thus far reflect a variety of opinions and conclusions. Although some research supports the positive impact of technology on student learning, other research suggests there is little evidence to support the claim that using technology in learning justifies the resources it needs. As Abrami et al. (2006) recommends post-secondary education would benefit from a national plan to assess the impact of e-learning initiatives. The reiterated points by the Canadian Council on Learning (2009) reflect the Advisory Committee on Online Learnings action plan (2001) in that the following four areas still need to be addressed: 1. Generating momentum: stakeholder collaboration and sharing of resources 2. A shared vision of e-learning 3. Harnessing the potential of technology to facilitate the needs of learners 4. Filling the gaps in research

On the other hand, Downes (2009) cites the development of EduSource, a major panCanadian e-learning project, among other Canadian initiatives. Yet the State of e-learning in Canada (2009) report is accurate in some respects in that there is still no national vision and lack

REPORT ON E-LEARNING of sustained funding for e-learning in Canada. Furthermore, institutional support has been


minimal and the commercial sector has struggled. For example, Canadian support for important initiatives such as Open Courseware or Open Educational Resources has been limited (Downes, 2009). Agencies such as the Media Awareness Network have struggled to make educational resources freely available online (Downes, 2009). However, even with the lack of official governmental support, there continues to be some development of e-learning in provinces and territories across Canada, albeit lacking a unified approach. Recommendations of Alternatives Therefore, it is evident that BC government needs to become a more prominent key player in the planning and management of e-learning. There is a serious need to develop an elearning framework in which post-secondary institutions operate and to provide a unified vision and shared goals. Subsequent institutional planning must address these goals. Following this overarching guidance, the BC government has the opportunity to directly help implement elearning through conservative measures adjusting current institutional policies to more radical approaches involving restructuring, creating new institutions and utilizing effective funding strategies to successfully achieve provincial e-learning goals. Yet, this hinges on whether the BC government is ready to embark on the future planning and management of e-learning. They must first ensure that issues of connectivity, capability, content and culture are carefully considered in policy development aimed at supporting e-learning initiatives. According to Plant (2007), a number of BC post-secondary institutions have already begun to develop their own innovative learning centres. However, what is urgently needed is an overarching public imperative from the BC government to make commitments towards investing in determining and implementing best practices of teaching and learning. As well, aligned to the



Campus 2020 report, I recommend the BC government develop a centre of excellence in learning innovation. Moreover, building on the success of BCcampus, I recommend expanding this single portal system to include an online application component as it would help reduce the duplications of multiple application forms and facilitate registration and financial assistance for students. This common admissions system would create data storage of student information that would help academic institutions improve their program planning and better address student needs. Another area of concern is funding strategies to better support the current initiatives that are underway at many of BCs post -secondary institutions. Without sustained government support, there will be much slower progress and growth in terms of innovation in e-learning. Several funding suggestions include reallocating existing resources, providing short and longterm grants for e-learning initiatives, increasing government funding for post-secondary institutions, using e-learning to absorb the cost of new enrolments, fostering the development of cost-recoverable e-learning programs and allowing public institutions to create for-profit elearning companies. Although the BC Commercialization Voucher Program encourages companies to partner with post-secondary institutions to accelerate innovations, BC legislation should provide opportunities for post-secondary institutions to form as business companies to pursue independent operations outside of local educational programs similar to the provincial boards of education. Several of these school district business companies have already begun to explore offering e-learning programs internationally. For instance, the SD73 business company began a pilot program to offer online courses to international students through an agreement with the BC Ministry of Education (iNACOL, 2012).

REPORT ON E-LEARNING Lastly, there are several considerations prior to moving forward with further e-learning initiatives and conservative, radical and funding strategies. The BC government must examine whether there is a readiness for e-learning within the province and if not, they need to identify


what steps need to be taken to improve its readiness and develop appropriate policies to address these concerns. The framework for examining e-learning readiness is based on the four C model examining aspects of connectivity, capability, content and culture. Furthermore, the BC government should expect that in the short term they will need to invest more in the development of e-learning in order to pay for the technical and human resource infrastructure. However, in the long-term e-learning will provide opportunities to increase the cost-effectiveness of post-secondary education by improving the overall quality and access. Other areas of consideration include preventing the costly duplication of courses, programs and resources. In order to minimize this possibility for increased costs, the BC government needs to develop appropriate funding strategies. Finally, although e-learning may appear to be a revenue generator for post-secondary institutions, most institutions may not be well-equipped to operate as a profit-making company. Thus, the BC government should not disregard the ultimate aim of e-learning, which will continue to be offering flexible, affordable options for the public rather than maximizing profits. The integration for-profit e-learning with post-secondary institutions may be a challenge to the academic community as it may be met with negative attitudes to the implications associated with the commercialization of e-learning and concerns about the infringement of their intellectual property rights.



Thus, this report provided detailed information on the current landscape of e-learning in BCs publicly funded post-secondary education. It examined the educational context, provincial policies for e-learning, regulation of profit-based e-learning programs, offered a critical analysis of current policies and initiatives, as well as proposed several key recommendations for alternative options. Overall, it is evident that an investment in e-learning planning and management within post-secondary education is timely, if BC aims to lead the path towards technological innovations in the teaching and learning landscape of e-learning.

REPORT ON E-LEARNING References Abrami, P. C., Bernard, R., Wade, A., Schmid, R. F., Borokhovski, E., Tamin, R., Surkes, M.,


Lowerison, G., Zhang, D., Nicolaidou, I., Newman, S., Wozney, L., & Peretiatkowicz, A. (2006). A review of e-learning in Canada: A rough sketch of the evidence, gaps and promising directions. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 32(3). Retrieved from http://cjlt.csj.ualberta.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/27 Anderson, T. (2009). Canadas lost e-learning decade. Retrieved from http://terrya.edublogs.org/2009/05/25/canadas-lost-e-learning-decade/ Bates, A.W. (2001). National strategies for e-learning in post-secondary education and training. Paris: UNESCO/International Institute for Educational Planning. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001262/126230e.pdf Bates, A.W. (2011). What can Ontario learn from BC in e-learning? Retrieved from http://www.tonybates.ca/2011/02/28/what-can-ontario-learn-from-bc-in-e-learning/ Bates, A.W. & Sangr, A. (2011). Managing technology in higher education: Strategies for transforming teaching and learning. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. BCcampus. (2013). About us. Retrieved from http://www.bccampus.ca/about-us-2/ BCcampus. (2013). Opening education. Retrieved from http://open.bccampus.ca/open-textbooks/ BC Council on Admissions and Transfer. (2013). About us. Retrieved from http://bccat.ca/about/bccat/ BC Education Quality Assurance. (n.d.). British Columbia education system. Retrieved from http://www.bceqa.ca/students/bc-system BC Government. (2013). Distributed learning. Retrieved from http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/dist_learning/welcome.htm

REPORT ON E-LEARNING BC Government. (2013). Open school BC. Retrieved from http://www.pss.gov.bc.ca/osbc/ BC Government. (2013). Quality assurance framework in British Columbia: Green paper.


Retrieved from http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/education_quality_assurance/docs/qaf-greenpaper.pdf BC Government. (2013). Rural education network. Retrieved from http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/dist_learning/rural_education.htm Bullen, M. (2013). Unit 5- Key points. Retrieved from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec520/unit-5/unit-5key-points/ Bullen, M. & Janes, D. P. (2007) Making the transition to e-learning: Strategies & issues. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Canadian Council on Learning. (2009). State of e-learning in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/E-learning/E-Learning_Report_FINAL-E.PDF Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (2010). Postsecondary Education in British Columbia. Retrieved from http://www.cicic.ca/566/Description.canada Canadian Virtual University. (2009). Quality education online. Retrieved from http://www.cvuuvc.ca/partners.html Downes, S. (2009). Canadas lost e-learning decade. Retrieved from http://www.downes.ca/cgibin/page.cgi?post=49069 Electronic Health Library of BC. (2013). About us. Retrieved from http://www.ehlbc.ca/about-us Gilmore, D. (2013). Moving forward on free, open textbooks. Retrieved from http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2013/02/moving-forward-on-free-open-textbooks.html

REPORT ON E-LEARNING Gilmore, D. (2013). Strengthening quality in post-secondary education. Retrieved from http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2013/03/strengthening-quality-in-post-secondaryeducation.html Global Universities in Distance Education. (n.d.). Current members. Retrieved from http://www.guideassociation.org/current-members_en International Association for K-12 Online Learning. (2012). State of the nation: K-12 online learning in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.openschool.bc.ca/pdfs/iNACOL_CanadaStudy_2012.pdf


Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology. (2013). Top story. Retrieved from http://www.gov.bc.ca/aeit/ Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology. (2013). B.C. post-secondary education facts. Retrieved from http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/mediaroom/facts.htm Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism. (2013). 2013/14-2015/15 Service plan. Retrieved from http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2013/sp/pdf/ministry/aeit.pdf Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development. (2009). 2009/10-2011/12 Service plan. Retrieved from http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2009/sp/pdf/ministry/almd.pdf Ministry of Education. (2013). 2013/14-2015/16 Service plan. Retrieved from http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2013/sp/pdf/ministry/educ.pdf Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. (2012). British Columbias technology strategy: Building B.C.s economy. Retrieved from http://www.bcjobsplan.ca/wpcontent/uploads/TechnologyStrategy2012.pdf

REPORT ON E-LEARNING Plant, G. (2007). Campus 2020 Thinking ahead: The report. Retrieved from http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/campus2020/campus2020-thinkingahead-report.pdf Premiers Technology Council. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.gov.bc.ca/premier/technology_council/


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