Council of Ontario Universities working to establish new online learning consortium

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The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) is working to establish a new online learning consortium, in order to “keep Ontario universities at the forefront in the use of technology to advance teaching and learning and improve students’ access to online courses and programs.” The new initiative, Ontario Universities Online (OUO), recently seconded Cathy Kelly, Director of the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Extended Learning, to lead the development process.
According to an announcement on the University of Waterloo’s website, a key goal of the new consortium is to “enable universities to collaborate, so they can deliver programs and supports more efficiently, or at lower costs, and provide programs and supports together that they could not do alone.” Specific details on the OUO are not yet available, but OCUFA will be monitoring its development closely and will provide a more thorough analysis when further details are available.
OCUFA believes that online learning can play an important complementary role to face-to-face forms of student engagement, and can be of particular benefit to students who live a great distance from university, or who have responsibilities that make in-class attendance difficult. We also favour a consortium model that allows universities and faculty members to retain control of their own courses, while preserving academic freedom and autonomy in academic planning. As with most things, intent matters. If online learning is pursued to enhance student success, then it will have a beneficial effect on educational quality. If, however, it is viewed as a cost-cutting exercise, it will tend to undermine the learning experience. Repeated experience has shown that quality online learning is actually more expensive to deliver than in-person course

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