Return to Table of Contents
When John Chambers from Cisco Systems was asked what he thought would be the next big item on the Internet after e-commerce, he replied, "Education. The next big application for the Internet is going to be education. Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail usage look like a rounding error."Winnipeg Free Press -Nov 18,1999 (1) In September, in an article in Maclean's Magazine titled "Back to School On-line" it was reported that "World wide, more then 17,000 courses are now available entirely on-line -- about 2,700 of them from Canadian schools -- and the figure is literally growing by the hour." Maclean's - Sept 6, 1999 (2).
The changes in delivery of education, like other areas of human endeavor, are often driven by technological change. The invention of the printing press is an early example of this. After that development, education could be delivered to a much wider and less affluent sector of the public. Inexpensive delivery of the mail, blackboards, copy machines, overhead projectors, computers, and data projectors also changed the delivery of information in lesser ways. Like the printing press, however, the Internet can be characterized as another sea change in education for several reasons.
The use of web technology to deliver information both locally and at a distance, while still in the developmental stage, is no longer in the experimental stage. The tools to develop an on-line presence are available. This report has been created to assess the preparedness of Red River College to enter into this new arena of education. The report is structured in the following way.
1. An overview of the present state of on-line education: Educational institutions that can not find their niche on the Internet may ultimately drop out of the educational gene pool when they lose the "survival-of-the-fittest" battle. On-line education using the Internet is not a fad; it is a paradigm shift. In this section of the report we look at the offerings of other educational institutions in the world. A special emphasis is place on Canadian sites.
2. Staffing Configurations of Web Departments at Other Institutions: Organizations suddenly find a new budget expense when they adopt web technology. Money for new staff and new technology must be found. Payback for the investment is often delayed for some time. This section looks at how other Colleges and Universities have developed their Web departments and how some are trying to solve money short falls by using the expertise of existing departments and training web users to maintain their own pages.
3. Potential Clients for RRC On-line Training: Although the pool of clients for on-line training seems wide and deep, reality can often darken this rosy picture. Rural connections, while present, may be enormously unreliable. Potential students may not own or have access to the hardware required for on-line education causing a digital gap between the "have" and "have-nots". This section looks at the possible sources of students for on-line education, both local and distant, and the problems that may occur reaching and retaining them.
4. Client Acceptance and Performance: Is the miracle of on-line education a myth, or does it really work? Do students actually like this method of training? Is it effective? How do success rates compare to regular correspondence methods and classroom training? This section looks at the actual results of on-line education and the negative and positive opinions of those who have used it.
5. On-line Development Resources at Red River College: The College, at present, has various web servers in operation. A Webmaster and various departments share the responsibility for their maintenance. Some of the development is still at the level of volunteerism. Early volunteers have started to drop away. This section analyses the present functionality of the web-developing cadre at the College. Future requirements and methodologies are also discussed.
6. Human Resource Issues: The coming of on-line instruction creates many issues for staff. Fears of being replace by computers, re-definitions of jobs, course development time considerations, contact time disputes, the loss of choice and variability of student learning strategies, and simply getting some of the faculty to consider using the new technologies are just some of the concerns staff may have. This section discusses a broad spectrum of human concerns and staffing issues.
7. Technology Issues: Both the software and hardware for on-line technologies changes rapidly. Because of the difference of delivery speed on-line techniques within the College are different then those that can be use in a distance Education situation. This section discusses the College's present ability to deliver on-line technology and its possible future needs.
8. Use of On-line Technologies for In-house and Hybrid Courses: On-line technologies are not just for distance education. There are many ways in-house courses can use them to enhance the College learning experience. E-mail communication, on-line testing, information dissemination and file dispersal as well as chat rooms and multimedia presentations can be used as part of the classroom environment. Some courses can be offered in a hybrid form where part of the course takes place in the College and part on-line. This section outlines the possibilities of using on-line technologies for courses offered with-in the College as well as courses offered in a hybrid form.
Note: For further reading please click here.
(1) Winnipeg Free Press, Nov. 18,1999 - xnet.rrc.mb.ca/tltr/report/items/chanbers.jpg
(2) MacLean's, Sept.6, 1999 - - xnet.rrc.mb.ca/tltr/report/items/macleans.htm
(3) Consortium - http://www.campusmanitoba.com/