segunda-feira, 31 de agosto de 2009

Distance education works

O jornal canadense Northernnewspublica um artigo em que apresenta algumas razões para estudar a distancia

Algo interessante que o texto revela é a ligação de Nelson Mandela com a educação a distância.




Distance education works

What do Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela, the new Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo, and former Premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein have in common? You may be surprised by the answer: they all got their college or university degrees using distance education.

Since the early 1990s, distance education and e-learning have taken off worldwide.

In North America alone, there are some four million students studying at a distance. Many are taking high school, college and university courses -some at the undergraduate level and a growing number at the graduate level. In Ontario, there are some 750 programs and over 7,300 courses available online from colleges, universities and other training providers in all parts of the province.

There are three big reasons distance education and e-learning became popular: flexibility, smart technology and cost. You can work, support a family and still get the qualifications that will make all the difference to your career prospects -that is flexibility.

Second, the technology for learning -web-based tools, simulations, effective video and audio-conferences, day-to-day contact with instructors and fellow students -has become much easier. Specialized system for conferencing, connecting and learning are increasing student engagement to the point at which e-learning is the preferred mode of learning for many students. Finally, it saves money. While the tuition costs may be the same as an on-campus program, money is saved in terms of not having to travel from your home to a college or university, not having to move to a different city, meals eaten out and accommodation.

The development of e-learning and the power of the Internet are opening new programs and new collaborations between colleges and universities. Take the Masters degree Chief Atleo took. It is from four universities who collaborate to offer a unique degree in Adult Learning and Global Change. The universities are Linköping University (Sweden), University of British Columbia (Canada), University of Western Cape (South Africa) and Monash University (Australia). This program requires no campus attendance and is delivered entirely online. It is available to anyone globally.

Graduate programs, such as Chief Atleo's Master's degree, are not the only options. Courses for a variety of trades, including electrical, plumbing and construction trades, can be taken online, as well as courses across the community college curriculum. High school courses, taught by qualified Ontario teachers, are also available. In fact, Grade 10 to PhD is available in many subjects for residents of Ontario.

Some will say that students miss a lot by not being in class. Yet the evidence is clear: students interact more, both with their professors and with their fellow students, when studying at a distance. They learn more, since they can review material repeatedly. They are also more satisfied with e-learning classes than with many conventional classes. Distance education improves quality.

The emergence of effective elearning is changing the way conventional programs are delivered. More extensive use of e-learning tools, both within class and between classes, are seen as colleges and universities begin to offer what are known as "blended" learning courses - courses with some classroom components and some e-learning components. Some 40% of all courses taught in colleges and universities are blended in this way and the number of such courses is rising rapidly.

Nursing is one area where distance education is growing rapidly. From Practical Nurse education through to PhDs in nursing, the profession has embraced elearning and is supporting the development of e-learning programs in many countries. It is possible for a registered nurse to up their qualification with a Bachelors degree and then move on to a Masters for Nurse Practitioners and then a PhD with a focus on nursing practice.

By partnering with the profession and healthcare providers and managing practicum experiences, nurses can continuously improve their professional skills and services to patients while continuing to work in their current position. Other healthcare professions are gradually following the lead of the nurse educators.

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Learning using hand-held devices -what is known as "mobile learning" -is also growing quickly with courses and programs coming to an iPhone or Smartphone near you. In fact, Apple's music website iTunes is home to the iTunes University, where you can find college and university courses (some from Ontario) available for download and review.

All that one needs to be an effective distance education student is access to the Internet, either at home, at work or in a dedicated centre for learning such as a Contact North | Contact Nord Access Centre in your community and a commitment to learning. Some courses require you to participate in video and audioconferencing, which Contact North | Contact Nord also supports. After that, time management and support from friends and family are the key ingredients to success.

If distance education is good enough for Nelson Mandela and Chief Atleo, it's good for you. Visit www.contactnorth.caor drop in at the Contact North | Contact Nord Access right here in Kirkland Lakeat 140GovernmentRoadE. Room G 207 or call Anne Commando- Dubé at 567 5505 to learn more about the distance education programs and courses available to you.

Postado em 31 de agosto de 2009 por Joao Jose Saraiva da Fonseca

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