David Porter CEO of eCampusOntario
Speaks on The Evolution of Teaching and Learning
Someday soon you may find yourself thinking about your resume. Maybe you are thinking about a career change. Perhaps you’re looking to increase your marketability through some professional development courses or a masters program. Physically going back to school full- or part-time is not an option for everyone; the problem though is that the college and university education system in Ontario is vast. There are over 16,000 online courses and 800 programs to choose from. And that’s just online. Finding the right fit for you can be a challenge.
eCampusOntario has embarked on a bold mission to make sure that all online and technology-enabled learning opportunities at publicly-funded colleges and universities in Ontario are not only easy to discover, but that the path to access is clear and unobstructed.
eCampus Ontario started in 2015 by funding the development of online programs in key areas of high labour market demand. We also funded the development of openly licensed content to be used in classrooms. Modules, videos, presentations and resources were produced and are now openly shared and available to all Ontario educators and students.
In 2016 we sharpened our focus. We pursued activity in three theme areas in partnership with educators and learners:
• rethinking learning resources: what textbook do you use in the classroom? How do you get your hands on one? How much do you pay?
• rethinking learning experiences: what is your experience in the classroom or program you are in? Are you engaged? Learning or barely staying awake?
• rethinking learning recognition: how are your learning achievements recognized inside and outside the classroom? Does your potential employer care?
RETHINKING LEARNING RESOURCES: THE TEXTBOOK
We started by asking some critical questions: How much do students pay, per semester, in textbooks costs? What can we do to ease that burden?
The answer: go Open. eCampus Ontario’s open textbook library is a resource which has been made freely available to learners, educators, the public (anyone!), using an open license. So, if an educator at an Ontario institution decides to use an open textbook instead of a publisher textbook, the students in that class do not need to pay for their textbook. They just get it. On the first day.
You can search a catalogue of 190+ open textbooks in your subject area. You can download, print, share these resources. They are free.
In June, 2017, the government of Ontario recognized potential for significant student savings and dedicated $1 million dollars to support the development and use of open textbooks at our colleges and universities. In addition, we have partnered with Ryerson University and other member institutions and organizations to prototype an open publishing infrastructure for Ontario in fall 2017.
RETHINKING LEARNING EXPERIENCES: THE LAB
Much of our activity related to rethinking learning experiences was carried out directly with students in a design studio environment to identify fruitful areas for development and collaboration with faculty and institutions.
One of the key areas identified for additional development through our Student Experience Design (SXD) Lab will be virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). eCampusOntario has already invested in a set of VR licenses that are being offered for educators to use on campuses in 2017 through our Technology Sandbox initiative.
RETHINKING RECOGNITION OF LEARNING: ALL THAT STUFF ABOUT YOU THAT’S SPECIAL
Employers are always looking for talent. How do they spot it? What makes certain individuals stand out?
We know that a college or university education indicates deep learning in a particular area of study. That is important information to have on your CV. But what about the extra-curricular or co-curricular work you are doing which demonstrates other skills and capacities: you know how to operate a 3D printer; you did an internship at a local newspaper; you blog and maintain your own personal website.
How are all of these things captured, authenticated and shared with a potential employer?
eCampusOntario is testing a solution: Open Badging. Educators are encouraged to partner with employers to determine a set of competencies associated with each badge. Badges are then issued to students who have achieved the task to the standard set by the institution and the employer. Badges can be pushed to LinkedIn profiles to show them off.
eCampusOntario has been proactive in addressing the needs of students and making the most of the talents of educators. Learn more at www.eCampusOntario.ca.