Educational Costs and the Online Solution


A fellow classmate in my PIDP3240 class, Pam Cheema, posted the link below to a wonderful college selecting tool that, as she described it “Is a simple interactive link set up by an MIT professor Michael Scott Cuthbert to see where students can apply based on the income, the interested state, and the SAT or ACT score. It seems the main issue [is] there are many students cannot afford higher education and as a result of that many may not achieve their occupational dreams or just simply take longer.”

It would be fantastic if there were a similar tool available in Canada to help folks sift their way through the vast number of schools & programs available today.  Having the ability to search, as is the case with this site, with the financial component in mind as well as the ways in which the programs are offered would be ideal.  I have been researching the idea of enrolling in an EMBA program and the amount of time it took me to properly assess all the available options was astounding!

Pam’s post got me thinking about how the costs of a post secondary education have been steadily increasing, to the point where education after high school is simply not an option for many people in our society.   As is I can’t help but feel like we are already at the point where people that can afford the schooling are essentially buying a job.   The burden of training once shared with employers has been pushed on to employees to the point where it can take 10 years to recoup the costs.  Online education could be the solution to this issue in the longer term.

Below is an online article I found that discusses just this and explains what the current research is telling us about it.  Early on in the article it talks about 5 recurrent themes that stood out after reviewing the research.  Of these theme’s, the one that stood out most to me was that “Inter-institutional, provincial, and/or pan-Canadian cooperation and collaboration are necessary to address issues of cost and of resource and service duplication, as well as achieve critical mass.”  In other words, cooperation amongstt institutions and different levels of government will be one of the keys to reducing the costs of creating affordable online programs.  I really do believe we will get to the point where everyone has affordable access to education, but it going to take some work and the dismantling and rebuilding of many of the educational institutions we know.

The Evolution of Distance Education – Part 2

I had an earlier post on the evolution of distance education and I found it so interesting that I decided to pick the select the topic for a Pecha Kecha powerpoint assignment in my PIDP 3240 class.  Below is both the original text I prepared for this assignment and the link Authorstream link to this project.  I hope you find the topic as interesting as I did!

When we think of distance education we tend to think of the plethora of online courses or courses with online components available today.  What most people don’t realize however is that distance education has been taking place in one form or another in various parts of the world for what is likely better than 300 years.  In this presentation I will outline, in chronological order, some of these documented occurrences and the ways in which they were delivered.  This will not be a comprehensive list but it should give you an indication of how this form of education has evolved.  There has been some discussion that the epistles in the New Testament testify to the existence of distance education or that some of this learning originally took place via messenger or messenger bird but I am going to focus today on better known educational focused offerings.  (Uni-oldenburgde, 2016)

It seems it all started in 1728 when a teacher Caleb Phillips, teaching the new method of Short Hand, advertised is the Boston Gazette that ‘Persons in the Country desirous to Learn this Art, may by having the several Lessons sent Weekly to them, be as perfectly instructed as those that live in Boston.’  The presumption here is that the weekly assignments to which he refers are an indication of two way traffic.  The subsequent expansion of the US postal system then began to perpetuate distance learning courses across the US. (Learndashcom, 2016)

One hundred years later we find evidence of distance learning in the Swedish City of Lund.  A weekly published in the old Swedish university there in 1833 advertised opportunities to study ‘Composition through the medium of the Post’ (Uni-oldenburgde, 2016).  This precipitated the offering of correspondence courses throughout Europe and by 1836 the University of London started examining work completed by folks taught by organizations ‘without examination powers’ which enabled them to ultimately acquire academic degrees without being students; a very important development for distance learning indeed. A notable example of these offerings took place in 1840 when a fellow by the name of Isaac Pitman started teaching short hand on postcards in England.  His students were invited to send passages from the bible transcribed in short hand to him for correction.  By 1843 the combined study of short hand and the Scriptures came to be managed by the Phonographic Correspondence Society and shortly thereafter the Sir Isaac Pitman Correspondence College was created.   Similar developments to these began to take place not only in Europe and the US but also as far away as Cape Town, South Africa.

Fast forward to the turn of the century and distance education grows.  Not just in numbers when in 1900 a home based program offered by a lady named Anne Ticknor managed to enroll 20,000 students but also in the methods of delivery.   By 1922 the University of Pennsylvania started delivery of the first college course broadcast on radio networks and by 1932 the University of Iowa started using television as a learning tool in their classrooms.  This was only the beginning for television though and it wasn’t until 1953 that the first televised courses were offered by the University of Houston and it would be 10 years later again before the FCC dedicates 20 television channels to be used solely for university and instructional use.

From this point forward distance education continues to become both more common and accepted and then two things happened in the later part of the 60’s and through the 1970’s; the advent of the personal computer and the early forming of what we now know as the internet or world wide web.  Few at the time could have foreseen the changes that would come as a result of these and it would be a number of years before these changes really started to take hold.  In 1970 the first college without a physical campus, Coastline Community College in California, opens its ‘doors’ and in 1985 the National Technological University becomes the first to offer online degree courses using satellite signals.  Then in 1991, the world wide web, also know at the time as the information super highway, is born.  It would later be renamed the internet, a term everyone is now more than familiar with.    It is impossible to overstate the impact the internet has had on education and the demand it has since driven for distance education.

In the five year period between 1997 and 2002, Web CT 1.0 LMS, an internet based learning management system, is released which inspires the creation of the next generation of this software Blackboard in 1999 and is shortly followed in 2002 by Moodle.  The latter two of these systems are still in common use today.  By 2003 16% of undergraduate students in the US were enrolled in at least one online course and by 2010 it is estimated that 6.1 million students have taken an online course at one time or another; a number that continues to dramatically increase.  To give you an indication of rate of this change, between 1998 and 2008 the number of students opting for distance education courses as part of their regular curriculum increased by 150%.  Today the number of courses offered by distance education is continuing this trend and the courses themselves are constantly becoming more innovative, immersive and rich; a story that is even more impressive once you understand its humble roots.


Haptik Technology


A fellow classmate (Marwa Kotb) posted an incredibly interesting link in our discussion forum about this relatively new Haptik technology.  The applications for this could be endless!  I can’t help but think we are slowly working our way toward creating a Holodeck (for you Star Trek fans out there!).  I began to look more into this technology and found another variation called Ultrahaptics that is looking at using ultrasound waves to make you feel like you are touching virtual objects.  This quote below will give you an indication of where this technology could be heading:

“If the resolution can be improved, applications could include interacting with moving objects in virtual reality games, or improving navigation for the visually impaired by projecting the sensation of Braille letters onto fingers in midair.”

This gets me thinking about the possible ways this technology could eventually be used in trades training, or at least the ‘hands on’ component of it.  The pace technology is moving at is truly astounding!



Mentorship Matters


As many people are aware, the skilled trades and technical sector has a real challenge ahead in attracting new talent and training them to replace an aging work force.  We have a massive influx of young, under trained workers now entering the trades with few older seasoned folks to get them up to speed and pass that knowledge along.  Poor transfer of knowledge has been identified as the main reason for the large cost over runs on many of the larger industrial projects in Canada and abroad and as a result there is a push to improve in this regard.  I am sure the situation is the same in other professions as well.

Below is a link to a new program Mentorship Matters that has been created by Skill Plan and the EJTC to help address this issue.  While we have been focusing in this course on better teaching methods and different approaches, I think it is important to recognize that professionals in general need to take some responsibility for learning as well.  Teaching, in this case Journeyman tradespeople, that they are in fact also teachers (i.e. mentors) and also teaching Apprentices (i.e. mentee’s) how to be mentored is an important step we need to take to address these issues.  Thoughts?

Best Rated Virtual Classroom


I started researching the best virtual classroom platforms and discovered that WizIQ has won this title for four consecutive years at the World Education Awards through the World Education Congress.  This looks to be an amazing platform!  Some of the pro’s include:

1. Full mobile learning across most all devices (Android and iOS)

2. Live instruction – classes can meet in real time and get face to face instruction

3. Tracks milestones and stats

4. Seamlessly integrates with Moodle

5. Create or use video and ability to write custom assessments, use white boards and more…

I encourage everyone to have a glance and give some feedback if they have used this or something similar.  It is awfully convenient having all these capabilities in one place and not having to jump from one app to another.  Thoughts?

The Evolution of Distance Learning


Below is an interesting link I discovered on the evolution of distance learning.  I was very surprised to find out that the University of Chicago created the first college level distance education program back in 1992!  Even more fascinating are the predictions for the future. “2035 – Individual minds converge and communicate through bio-engineered technologies that allow humans instant access to vast resources of information”

We will need to wait and see if biotech will get us to that point in the near future but this is an interesting link none the less!  Thoughts?