Monday, November 22, 2010

Edcentre visits Saskatoon Public Online Centre

I recently had a chance to visit another online learning provider in Saskatoon, SK. The Saskatoon Public School Division's Online Learning Centre is located in Room 6 of the Evan Hardy Collegiate on Saskatoon's east side. They provide online learning opportunities to staff and students from K-12. Donna Veale leads the project and a staff of approximately 12 full and part-time teachers and developers.

 It was interesting to observe the various similarities and differences between the OLC and We are similar in the way we provide alternative learning opportunities for students; online delivery of courses and the ability to work at a pace chosen by the learner rather than the teacher. The use, and the limits, of technology are shared. Like, the OLC  tries to reduce the amount of paper used during the learning process, especially in the math courses. In these instances students fax their completed assignments to the instructor, and with upwards of 30 students per class, the amount of paper used can be substantial.

The differences between the two online learning providers were varied. Saskatoon Public's Online Learning Centre uses the Blackboard learning management system, whereas, uses an open-source web program called Moodle. They are essentially both learning management systems but have different capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages. Another difference to note is the enrollment of students; continually enrolls new students in courses throughout the year, however; the OLC has registration deadlines and population limits. These are the two predominant differences and the others vary in scope.

Professional development is key to stay relevant in an increasingly changing education environment and the opportunity to collaborate with fellow distance ed. teachers was a great learning experience. I have made some new contacts and look forward to incorporating new ideas and perspectives into my practice.

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