Research and Practice of E-Learning in Canada 2008

Research and Practice of E-Learning in Canada 2008

Rory McGreal (Athabasca University, Canada) and Terry Anderson (Athabasca University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-342-5.ch024
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Any view of e-learning in Canada must be informed by the uniquely Canadian feature of provincial jurisdiction over education. Therefore any investigation of e-learning in Canada must focus more on specific provincial initiatives in technologically enhanced learning rather than a Canadian overview. A distinctive “Canadian” model does not exist. The provinciality of Canadian e-learning serves to highlight the inability of Canada to sustain national strategies and focus as in other countries due to the fractious nature of federal/provincial relations in education.
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E-Learning Research

High quality professional activity is always informed and inspired by quality research. The importance of research to practice is even more important when the field is under change and adapting to both disruptive and sustaining technological change. In this section we discuss major e-learning research initiatives, postgraduate training centres snd research puInterest at the national level in e-learning research is driven mainly through increasing concern over the development of Canada’s “education industry”. CANARIE, Canada’s advanced Internet development organisation, has built and maintains the world’s fastest Internet backbone, CANet4 that spans the country from east to west and includes isolated northern regions. This “supernet” links public and private research institutes, companies involved in research and development in information technology as well as higher education institutions. In order to stimulate use of this network, CANARIE funded both e-learning and ehealth initiatives from 1999 to 2004. The $29 million E-learning Program funded 29 cost shared projects and stimulated both development and testing of e-learning tools and content. One pan-Canadian programme was EduSource, which connected researchers in six provinces to build a prototype learning object repository (McGreal, Anderson, Babin, Downes, Friesen et al. 2006). The now defunct Tele-learning Network of Centres of Excellence (1995 – 2002) was a geographically distributed network of researchers and client communities from across Canada, who collectively researched the development, application, and evaluation of advanced learning technologies.

Most of the funding for academic research in Canada is provided through the National Research Funding Councils. The National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) funded a 5 year pan-Canadian research project known as Lornet, a partnership of six universities across Canada that developed interoperability tools for e-learning based on semantic web tools, IEEE LOM, SCORM, and other standards.

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