Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

On-Line Education: It’s Not Just for Grown-Ups Anymore

The Government of Newfoundland & Labrador has announced (http://www.gov.nf.ca/releases/2003/edu/1008n01.htm) that it now will provide on-line tutoring for students who are preparing for a supplementary mathematics exam. A tutor will be available to students from 7am to 9:30pm from Tuesday til Thursday until November 12th.

This initiative, which is taking place through the Department of Education’s Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation, is also responsible for making 25 high school courses available online for students in rural and remote areas of the province.

Of course, most interesting to Athabasca University Students is simply that Newfoundland & Labrador has a Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation, while in Alberta, Learning and Innovation are considered entirely separate ministries. Distance learning isn’t even on the political map, despite one of the four Universities in the province, and arguably one of the largest, being a distance-based institution.

It almost makes me wonder if AU shouldn’t consider playing hardball with the Alberta Government. After all, as a distance education institution, there is no physical necessity to remain in boondocks Alberta. It could just as easily be located in boondocks Manitoba or boondocks Newfoundland, and the majority of students would see little change to the actual services they receive. Unlike traditional universities, AU could threaten to literally pick up and move. Imagine the black spot that would be on the Alberta Government’s record if it hit the media that an entire university left the province because the opportunities were better elsewhere!

Not only would this call into question the idea of the Alberta Advantage, it would, unfortunately, devastate the entire town of Athabasca. Would the Provincial Government continue to take Athabasca University for granted, however, if it thought there was a serious possibility of this happening? Would it continue to provide grant increases of less than the rate of inflation, or maintain inequitable funding formulas where technology costs are not seen as infrastructure?

It might not even have to seriously contemplate moving, but simply make the opening overtures to other provinces to remind the Alberta government that they actually have something fairly special and quite unique in Athabasca University. Besides, no offence to anybody intended, but personally, I’d rather go somewhere other than Athabasca for my convocation.

What a Week

It’s a busy week. In Alberta, October 10th to October 19th is considered Science and Technology Week (http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200310/15299.html). I’m not sure how they consider 10 days to be a week, maybe it’s metric time, or maybe the scientists left it to the politicians to determine how long a week was. At any rate, you can check out the science and technology week website (http://www.scitechweek.gov.ab.ca/) and get a free 2004 calendar for your household if you want. There are also some interesting resources for parents, including lists of events and lectures that the public can attend, and which AU students in Alberta might be interested in checking out. Unfortunately, I already missed the one on cryptography.

Of course, this week is also Thanksgiving. So by the time you read this, you’ll already be into the leftovers and thinking about how you have to get to the store soon to pick up Halloween candy. I never know what’s worse, giving away all the candy or seeing that the stores are already starting to put up Christmas decorations. I think it would be nice if the stores gave us the first two weeks of November to shop without having consumer-guilt about the things we haven’t bought yet.

Of course, I also think it’d be nice if tuition was free and the Federal and Provincial Governments thought long-term. After all, if we dream, we might as well dream big.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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