Brock University is one of seven Ontario universities to join forces in order to expand access, improve quality and share resources for online learning in the province.
The consortium, called Ontario Universities Online (OUO), is sponsored by the Council of Ontario Universities. The initiative is designed to respond to increased demand for online courses and improve student access to them, including introducing a new pathway to university education through open access to a range of courses.
In addition, the group will encourage collaboration in the development of online and technology-enabled learning, improve credit transfer for such courses, and make it easier for universities to share online education resources.
“We want to be a lead institution,” said Anna Lathrop, Vice-Provost Teaching and Learning, and Brock’s representative with OUO. “This will enable our faculty to have access to cutting-edge technology-enabled learning materials, and allow our students to have access to a broad array of online courses and programs.”
Currently, students wishing to take an online course at another university need a letter of permission to do so. Working together, OUO would streamline this process, Lathrop explained, eliminating the need for time-consuming paper work and enabling a student at another Ontario university to take an online course offered by Brock, and vice versa.
“Students want access to various forms of teaching and flexible course delivery,” Lathrop said. “Really this is about universities using their resources effectively and efficiently, and co-ordinating their efforts rather than functioning independently of one another.” Brock will join the University of Waterloo, Guelph, McMaster, Ryerson, Wilfrid Laurier and York in the development of a plan that will lead to the establishment of the consortium by this fall.
Once formed, all Ontario Universities will be invited to be a part of the consortium.
“I am delighted that Brock counts among the first to have a seat on the OUO Steering Committee,” Lathrop said.
“As our success grows, so will our institutional membership.”