Higher Education through Open and Distance Learning

By Keith Harry | Go to book overview

Chapter 8-3

University distance education in Canada

Douglas Shale

There are some ninety universities in Canada (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada 1997:10). A number of these are university colleges, designated as undergraduate degree-granting institutions with no explicit mandate for research or graduate studies. Others are semi-autonomous entities existing within a larger university system. This chapter considers only the comprehensive, publicly funded research universities, of which there are some fifty-five to sixty. We will also consider a number of other kinds of agencies, such as telecommunications-based networks because of their impact on the distance education programming offered through universities. Also discussed are the special providers of university distance education: Athabasca University, a distance education analogue of the traditional university model, the British Columbia Open University/Open College as a component of the Open Learning Agency, and the Téléuniversité, a semi-autonomous body with a statutory basis within the Université du Québec system. The general developments and issues raised in this chapter are necessarily selective and to some degree, idiosyncratic. Similarly, the particular universities referred to throughout the chapter should generally be regarded as illustrative only.

The term ‘dual-mode university’ is used throughout the chapter to describe universities offering both on-campus instruction and distance education. However, universities providing distance education as an add-on (the majority) are qualitatively different from ‘mixed-mode’ universities in which the two roles are integrated. In the usual form of mixed-mode integration, teaching faculty have responsibilities for teaching in both modes with students taking courses either on-campus or by distance delivery. However, as the technologies used for distance education become more pervasive in universities, a different kind of blending is occurring in which a single course can be offered through a mixture of distance education and face-to-face methods. The newly founded Technical University of British Columbia offers examples of this.

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