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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Why are Canadian universities so slow to adopt digital learning? | Academics - Maclean's

Jennifer Lewington, writer & editor says, Online courses are popular with students who juggle tough workloads. But only one in five institutions has a significant number of ‘blended’ options. 

Alison Carney facilitates a psychology lab at Queen's.
Photo: Andrej Ivanov

As a first-year student at Queen’s University in 2015, Alison Carney enrolled in introductory psychology, expecting the popular course would be delivered by a professor at the front of a 400-plus seat lecture hall—just like so many others on campus. She got that, and much more.

Along with a weekly lecture and labs, the course included online modules with readings, explanatory slides and quizzes designed by a professor to deepen understanding of the material. “It really sets students up well to learn,” says Carney of the so-called blended or hybrid learning format.

Web-enhanced teaching, as illustrated by the Queen’s psychology class, is growing in popularity as a tool to enrich the undergraduate learning experience and create new degree options for working professionals.

But some experts say higher education institutions need to quicken the pace of digital innovation. “There is momentum, but not fast enough for the needs of either the workforce or society in general,” warns Tony Bates, a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University and a widely recognized authority on technology-enhanced education...

For the past decade, he has practised “flipped classroom” strategies that put the onus on students to complete preparatory readings and refresher tests online before they come to his lecture. He also promotes peer-to-peer student learning through online discussions flowing from the material covered in class.

“The asynchronous environment offers the possibility to weave that [online discussion] in and come back to it when we reconvene as a whole class,” he says. Even with increased use of blended delivery, he says, “we are not getting rid of the lecture halls.”

Source: Maclean's