Until hearing Tricia Donovan speak about the eCampusAlberta consortium, I had never really given much thought to a consortium based around online and distance learning. I have heard of and used materials from the Alberta Assessment Consortium (AAC) and the Central Alberta Regional Consortium (CARC) but I guess I never realized what a consortium was. To me it was a place to go to find go resources for the classroom. Beaudoin (2009) define consortiums as, “a partnership among a number of educational institutions or other similar entities that have joined together to collaboratively provide instruction and other services to students that they might not otherwise be adequately equipped or inclined to do independently” (113).
Donovan states that eCampusAlberta consortium is the fastest growing online consortia in North America and browsing their website it is interesting to see the services offered to students, in particular their eToolkit. Donovan states that her organization is “learner-centric” and viewing this toolkit it seems that they are meeting the mark. Students have access to many different services and the toolkit is very user-friendly (http://etoolkit.ecampusalberta.ca/).
A couple of questions came to mind when looking at eCampusAlberta and their services. Donovon talks about a 76% course completion rate. Comparing this to the completion rate in Alberta high schools, 74.1% of Alberta students completed high school on time in 2011 (About High School Completion, 2012), I wonder how do outside agencies, like eCampusAlberta encourage to students to complete their courses? What effect does the consortium have on their students completing courses? It is interesting to see that not only do they offer career counselling but they also offer personal counselling. They seem to be focused on the learner as a whole individual. The connection between the learner and an online support system is one that I can see being used more and more in the future with more learners turning to online learning. How do online resources provide and support their learners both educationally and emotionally? A website that provides a sort of “one-stop” experience for learners is something that I can see a lot of learners would use. It will be interesting to see how and if schools and divisions adopt this model to improve completion rates and student learning.
Beaudoin, M. F. (2009). Consortia – a viable model and medium for distance education in developing countries?. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e- Learning, 24(2), 113-126. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02680510902879437
Donovan, T. (2012, March 12). eCampusAlberta.ca Organization and Management: Issues, Supports and Resources. Retrieved from https://blackboard.ucalgary.ca/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_id=_2_1&url=%2fwebapps%2fblackboard%2fexecute%2flauncher%3ftype%3dCourse%26id%3d_147065_1%26url%3d
About High School Completion. (2012, June). Retrieved from http://ideas.education.alberta.ca/hsc/about/