AU Scores in New Brunswick
New Brunswick, the Province that I’ve most often reported as doing good things for post-secondary education students, continues to impress me. This time by establishing a partnership (http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/news/ted/2004e0275te.htm) with AU for Athabasca University’s Bachelor of Professional Arts.
Under this program, Athabasca University will recognize graduates from the New Brunswick Community College as possessing partial credit toward their Bachelor of Professional Arts (Human Services). These interprovincial agreements are good things for all AU students as each one provides more incentive for the Provinces to support AU directly, not to mention providing the university with a larger pool of alumni that they can look to for support in the future.
Also nice to see was the mention in the press release that “Athabasca University leads Canada in online and distance education.” Hopefully endorsements like these will expand through more of the Maritimes, where they seem to have a better realization that education is not only good for the students, but it helps the province as well – so the best way to help the province is to do what can be done to make sure everybody is as educated as they can be.
Distance Education Expanding in Manitoba
The Province of Manitoba is also expanding (http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/press/top/2004/03/2004-03-09-02.html) some distance education offerings, except this time they’re not from Athabasca but in fact are from Manitoba’s own Red River College.
Yet, unlike in Alberta, Manitoba has some serious plans for their distance education institution: “One of the college’s long-term goals is to have 80 per cent of distance education courses online by 2008-09. Students in regular programs will have the option to complete at least some of their course requirements online.”
Can you imagine the variety of courses we’ll have to choose from if the University of Alberta or Calgary decide that they too want to have 80 per cent of their courses online within 5 years? Athabasca University has to look at this development as a challenge, because if other universities or colleges begin expanding their distance education portfolio, it will mean severe competition for AU. The only way to stay ahead in that kind of environment is to have courses that are far superior in either quality or delivery methods.
The way that you as a student can help this is quite simple, when you finish your course, fill out that comment card at the back and send it in. Only by spotting the deficiencies can we ensure that AU continues to improve its offerings and that our degrees maintain their worth in what is going to be an increasingly competitive market.
Some Old-School Expansion in Saskatchewan
By old-school expansion, I mean expansion of post-secondary education in the way we most often see it, not by looking toward distance education programs, but rather by paying construction companies to erect new buildings that will never have the capacity required to hold all of those who want an education.
In Saskatchewan, they’re opening (http://www.gov.sk.ca/newsrel/releases/2004/03/12-102.html) the North West Post-Secondary Institution which will provide both post-secondary education and skill training for those in North West Saskatchewan. The newly expanded centre will be able to hold, wait for it, 350 students, at the low, low cost of 3.4 million dollars.
The College President and CEO Bryan Nylander said, “Providing training closer to home is one step in the process.” It’s just too bad that Mr. Nylander doesn’t seem to realize that if training closer to home is good, training at home is even better. By using distance education, that 3.4 million dollars used in the building alone could have been used to develop new courses and provide not only an opportunity for education closer to home, but an opportunity for a broader and more varied education as well. Too bad.
A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.