TORONTO, April 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario universities are joining forces to expand online learning for students in the province and beyond, and are using technology to meet the growing demand for courses and programs delivered outside the traditional classroom setting or courses that blend both traditional and electronic delivery.
The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) is creating a consortium called Ontario Universities Online (OUO) that will build upon the thousands of university courses and many degree programs already being delivered in the province through the Internet.
The consortium also will foster improved teaching and learning in courses that blend traditional teaching methods with those enabled by technology.
"Many students need the flexibility of being able to take at least some of their courses online, and Ontario universities are delighted to be working collaboratively to give our students what they need, when they need it," says Alastair Summerlee, COU Chair and President of the University of Guelph.
"We'll use the best technology available to find innovative ways to improve how universities teach and how students learn, and in that way we will get even better results."
COU President and CEO Bonnie M. Patterson says the OUO will improve access to high-quality courses and programs, streamline the transfer of credits between institutions, and support collaboration among universities in developing and delivering online and blended courses.
"This is just one of the many ways Ontario universities, which are competitive in certain areas, are working together in other ways to combine their resources effectively and efficiently in the best way possible for students," Patterson says.
"Ontario Universities Online provides the opportunity to build something big - to unite in providing programs using expertise and new technologies that they could not do as quickly or cost effectively alone."
Seven of Ontario's publicly assisted institutions have committed resources to provide the core leadership needed to finalize details of the plan. The University of Waterloo's Catherine Newell Kelly, Director of the Centre for Extended Learning, will chair the team driving the development.
The consortium will be in a position by this fall to invite other Ontario universities to join the initiative. The lead institutions are: University of Waterloo, Brock University, University of Guelph, McMaster University, Ryerson University, Wilfrid Laurier University and York University.
- Universities are preparing students for the future with rigorous academic programs, greater attention to innovation skills, increased online learning and work-integrated learning opportunities.
- Through the OUO, students will benefit from more flexibility and choice in the number of courses available in Ontario.
- Online learning will facilitate easier access to postsecondary education for Aboriginal students and those from remote communities.
- Online courses and programs allow students to learn and study according to their own schedules.
- The OUO will foster collaboration among universities, allowing them to deliver programs even more efficiently.
COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students, and the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.
SOURCE: Council of Ontario Universities
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